So you’ve finally made the best decision a business owner can make — you want a cartoon logo for your business. So what’s next?
There are a few things any business owner needs to think about when embarking on this profit-inducing, brand-enhancing quest. Some of them technical, some of them practical. Let’s not waste any more time on this self-promotional intro and get started…
Find an artist whose style fits the look you want for your new mascot or logo. We’re assuming here that you’ll be doing some heavy Googling (as long as that’s legal in your state of residence).
Some things to keep in mind as you peruse the websites of these cartoonists:
- How professional is the site’s look and layout?
- Do the samples keep within a certain style, or is the artwork “all over the place”? The other half of the old phrase “Jack of all trades” is “master of none”.
- Is the art on the site in line with something you’d like to have for your own logo?
Know What You Want
A good illustrator wants to know what your goals are for your business in general, as well as what you are trying to portray to your prospective clients so the perfect character can be developed.
Many times the unique niche you offer can open up the floodgates of creativity, giving your mascot or logo that edge that makes you stand out or catches a customer’s eye.
It’s often the little things that make something great. The more information you can provide, the more fodder the illustrator has to work up something unique, original and fun – and specific to your business.
While you (of course) want to get the most “bang for your buck”, more detailed is not always better. You’ll eventually want to have this new cartoon character on all of your promotional material—from your business cards all the way to your billboard on the moon—and artwork needs to scale elegantly between all these sizes.
The cool thing is, bold and dramatic works at all these levels. Don’t just go for something that looks cool on the banner area of your website. Look for something that will read well at all sizes.
A good illustrator will know how to do this for you, so don’t get caught up in too many details in the art that will get lost in the end. It ends up making the logo and cartoon character unreadable, and therefore ineffective.
And if possible, don’t give the artist a specified size to fit into the website you’re creating. Plan on tweaking your website to fit your cartoon character, not the other way around.
“This weird looking guy holding this thing” is not a good description. Tell the cartoonist what you have in mind, in as much detail as you can without being too rigid. This is a tricky step, because sometimes a business owner doesn’t know exactly what they want the cartoon mascot to look like.
This is OK. What you want to convey is what you have in mind overall for the project, not the specific details about what it should look like. I often ask clients “What kind of image are you trying to portray with this character?” or “What kind of personality and attitude does this character have?” Often those are good starting points, and don’t require the client to know what the character looks like.
If you do have specific details, definitely tell your artist. Many times you know your business far more than the artist ever could, and any helpful insights into why something needs to be included, or the importance of a certain object can help immensely in assisting the artist to discover that perfect cartoon logo.
Let The Cartoonist Earn Their Money
In partial conflict with the previous tip, let the artist be creative. That’s what you’re paying for, isn’t it? Sometimes a great idea can be born from the interaction between the artist and client as the business owners visions, ideas and goals are made clear to the illustrator.
Feed your artist some details and set them loose. Let your inner control-freak take a lunch break and go with the creative flow.
If you aren’t pleased with how things are going, be vocal. The artist will think you are happy with the progress if you don’t say anything.
And do this at the sketch stage, not when the final tweaks are being done to the artwork. The sketch and revision stage is a dialog of creativity and information. Explore that to the fullest extent that your agreement allows. Which brings us to…
Get It In Writing
Usually a simple email outlining what services you’ll receive, such as: format of the final artwork, how many revisions, how many initial concepts, timeframe — and of course cost — will suffice.
Know what you are going to get from the artist up front, so there are no questions as to how the process will go. Expect to pay a deposit as well.
And do not expect any free up-front work to “see if you like their ideas”. The cartoonist’s portfolio should show you what kind of work they do and what they are capable of.
Thirteen hours is not enough time for you and the artist to get to know your project, your business and each other.
Communication, review and reflection on the concept sketches, discussion and tweaking all not only take time, but are crucial elements int he creation of the perfect cartoon character illustration.
In every case, what looks “easy” or “simple” is usually planned and slaved over to make it look that way. These creation don’t usually just flow out of the brush as-is, but rather are refined and analyzed until they are perfect.
Sometimes the “aha!” moment doesn’t come until a few (or many) revisions have been worked through, many of these seen only by the artist themself. The metaphorical creative juices are more like syrup at times, so give you and your artist plenty of time to get the flow going.
Yes, this is a business project, but remember it’s a cartoon character, and the point is to make it fun. You want that fun to shine through from your logo to your customers. If the process is fun, the final art will be fun.
It will be infused with the dynamic energy created between you and the artist, so help foster an environment to make that happen. Your artist should be taking the lead on this, but be sure to dance with them.
As it has been mentioned many times in the above tips, the real key to this (and to just about anything) is open, relaxed communication between all parties.
Wrapping It All Up
So there you have it. You should be well-equipped to head out there and find the perfect illustrator or cartoonist for you cartoon character design, cartoon mascot or cartoon logo. Of course, you could always save yourself a whole bunch of time since you’re already on the website of the guy that’s perfect for your project!