An Interview with Logo Designer Kyle Courtright
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and why you became a graphic designer.
Art was fascinating to me from a young age. I could sit down and draw for 5 or 6 hours at a time. My mom was an art teacher and my dad was a business man. I’ve always felt like they gave me a piece of each of them as I run Courtright Design.
I love speaking with clients, doing the accounting and optimizing the website to increase conversions. Almost every facet of the business is…fun. Graphic design is my passion, but I enjoy the business side of things too. I never want to retire.
2. Please describe your work to someone who is not familiar with it. What distinguishes your style from that of your contemporaries?
I work to create an aligned visual solution with the brand represented. I feel like there is an iconic, minimalist approach to design (particularly logo design) that I tend toward. I strive for vivid, bold design concepts in their most simplistic, innovative form.
3. Who does your work appeal to and why?
There’s a decent range of the type of businesses who inquire. I work with clients spanning from small startups and mom and pop shops, to large organizations like National Parkinson’s Foundation, Faith Comes by Hearing and New Mexico Homeland Security. Demographics can range quite a bit. I’ve had the chance to work with clients spanning the globe from the US, France, Denmark, Malaysia, Mexico, Canada, etc. As for the “why”: Minimalist design is universal. No-one wants a busy logo or a website that looks cluttered. Keeping things innovative and simplistic is the focus for each new project. This type of design has the potential to draw people in from all walks of life.
4. Your Logo Design Book is an impressive, comprehensive piece of work. How long did you research to write this book, and what was your inspiration?
Most people don’t know this, but it took me a year and a half to get The Ultimate Guide to Logo Design to where it is today. Initially, I sent the guide to Jacob Cass (who I didn’t know at the time). He read the guide and thought that I should turn it into an eBook. Jacob talks about the eBook saying:
“I would have to say it is the most complete, timeless resource I have read on logo design to date.”
~ Jacob Cass ~
The Ultimate Guide
to Logo Design
20,000 words of logo design wisdom.
5. How long did it take you to complete your book, and what was your process?
During the year and a half of getting the logo guide ready to go, I honed the book down from 30,000 words to 20,000. Paring things down to actionable, non-cliche tips and insights was important to me.
6. What are the top 3 things you learned from the process of publishing your book?
1. Just start. Momentum comes with production.
2. A new found respect for the word “perseverance”.
3. Quality over quantity.
7. Is this your first book you are selling? Do you have other products to share?
This is the first one!
Yes, I founded Logo Wave International. Logo Wave is a revolutionary logo design awards site that rewards designers in “waves”.
25 designers submit their logos into a wave for only $12. $300 is awarded to each wave winner based on the judges final scores. The top five wave winners get their logos featured on the website and receive winning digital badges to share on social media or adorn on their website. Respected designers like Jacob Cass and Ian Paget (the Logo Geek) part of the judges panel.
The mission of Logo Wave is to offer passionate designers from all walks of life a user-friendly logo awards solution at a revolutionary price in order to deepen portfolio value, resulting in positive career impact.
8. In less than 10 words, what is graphic design?
Visual elements communicating ideas in an artistic way.
9. Please describe your creative process for us.
Here is an overview of my logo design process:
▪ Cleaned up sketches
10. How long does it take to complete an average logo project from start to finish?
It really depends. If the creative juices are flowing, then timelines can differ from when you hit an innovation roadblock. Overall, my turnaround time is about a week to have the finalized logo ready to go.
11. Who or what is your greatest influence/inspiration, and who do you admire?
Damian Kidd, Paul Saksin, Nadir Balcikli, Stevan Rodic have been the biggest influences on my logo design work. I also respect and admire Sean Farrell for the amazing design work he continues to roll out. When I need some extra logo inspiration I check out Dribbble, the Logo Inspiration Generator Tool and Sean’s latest work. In my opinion, these guys are among the best logo designers in the world.
12. What conditions do you need in order to work to your full capacity?
At the beginning of this year, I decided to invest into my office space to create an inspiring environment. This is the perfect spot for me to plug away. Every once in a while, I’ll go to a local coffee shop and set-up camp for the day.
13. What in your career are you most proud of so far? Do you have any regrets?
Let’s start with the regrets:
▪ Not building up the email list earlier
▪ Not building up my Twitter profile earlier
▪ Not being more of a voice in the graphic design space from the onset
▪ Not going to more design conferences
It’s been encouraging to hear the positive feedback about the eBook. From the time of this post, people representing 34 countries have now purchased the logo guide. There were times when I felt like it would never be finished, so to know that people across the globe are enjoying the eBook has been rewarding. I’m also excited about Logo Wave. Turning an idea into a business has been an absolute blast. I love having the chance to award and recognize my fellow designers’ hard work.
14. How would you like to be remembered? For lack of a better word, write your epitaph.
Loved God, family and friends with everything in him. Worked hard. Listened well. Was kind, compassionate and quick to forgive.
15. Do you have a graphic design bucket list? If so, please share.
I’m a big sports guy, so doing design work for Nike, Adidas, the NBA or the NFL would make my year.
16. Do you have any creative side projects we would be surprised to learn about?
I recently finished a project where I bought a 4’ by 4’ pegboard, some string and spray paint. I know, nothing good can come from this. After 8 hours of stringing together a retro version of the my company logo, I didn’t want to see another piece of string ever again.
17. What steps did you take to start your own studio? And please list some sacrifices you had to make.
I was newly married, had just moved across the country and had no job. The Courtright Design website was up and the logo was in place by early 2011, but customers were nowhere to be found.
Working low paying nine-to-fivers was an obvious necessity while trying to build up the business on the side. Life consisted of McDonald’s dollar menu dates with my wife and even grabbing free WiFi from our apartment complex.
After work, I would come home, eat dinner, spend time with my wife and then begin working on the business from about 10pm-1am. (Lack of) sleep was too quickly followed by a loud beeping at 6:30am. Then, just rinse and repeat. Over the next two years, the demand on the business grew exponentially.
Come January of 2013, my wife and I sat down at a local burger joint and made the decision to quit my salaried position and pursue the dream to freelance. In my mind, nothing can beat working from home. Being able to have lunch with my wife and sons every day is the best possible scenario.
18. If you could go back in time what would you tell your younger self?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Keep persevering. It’s inevitable that you’re going to fail—it’s learning from your failures that brings more opportunity.
19. What is your favorite part of graphic design, and what is the worst?
I love working with startups. Those goal-oriented entrepreneurs trying to get out of that 9-5 job to pursue what they are truly passionate about. I enjoy taking their new business and having the responsibility of delivering an aligned visual identity.
The toughest part is trying to have a consistent, creative state of mind. There are some days where the ol’ brain and creativity aren’t friends. Project due dates never wait for creativity to catch up!
20. What 3 pieces of advice would you have for graphic designers?
1. Stay humble. Creativity and innovation can quickly be strangled by pride.
2. Don’t stop learning. Keep honing your skills. You’ll notice a progressively higher quality to your design portfolio which translates well to landing more projects.
3. Set lofty goals. Dream for what may now seem impossible.
The Ultimate Guide
to Logo Design
20,000 words of logo design wisdom.
Thanks to Mr. Courtright
I want to thank you Kyle, for taking the time to provide comprehensive answers to my questions. I wish you the best on the success of your Logo Design eBook. I’ve been in the business over 20 years, and you’ve taught me a thing or two… hats of to you my friend.
Keep kicking ass, Kyle!
Suggestions are Welcome
If you have suggestions for me to interview other professional graphic designers, please leave your suggestions in the comments below. Thank you in advance!
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