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Forging a Myth: Interview with Dan Simon

Earlier this year we asked for some help in sprucing up the LoreSmyth logo. As we grow as a company we feel it’s important to look as professional as we aspire to be!

Let’s meet the man who helped us look our best – Dan Simon. The following is his story, in his own words, about his role in co-creating our finished logo and what he does as an artist.

I saw this tweet… 

I recognize the difficulty in self-branding. As a designer, it’s easier to sort of pluck out the important things in someone else’s brand because you can take a step back from it and view it more objectively. When you’re inside the brand, sometimes its much harder to really boil down what you’re about. I think having the ability to design your own logo creates a paradox of choice, so having someone to at least be a sounding board for your ideas is really helpful to guiding the process.

Part of it is I love logo design. I love design as a rule – and I don’t just mean graphic design.

Design for me is a pervasive thing in our lives, and good design solves inconveniences or big problems everywhere.

Good design solves problems, and if it’s designed well enough, you’ll never notice.

Between the existing logo, and the designs drawn up in that image, I could kind of see where [LoreSmyth founder Chris van der Linden] was trying to go with it, and I realized I could probably get him to a vector design a little faster. We chatted in DM’s about what he was trying to do, and it sounded like he had a lot on his plate… so I offered to take some of his comments, the illustrations he’d done and the current logo and throw together some options for him, just to push the process a little further forward. We ended up going back and forth a few times with some tweaks here and there, and landed where we did.

The actual details of what Chris wanted were to:

  •  Try and create a recognizable icon that could be pulled out of the main logo
  • Tidy up the overall design
  • Try and highlight the ‘Myth’ part of the LoreSmyth

We didn’t find a solution to the myth ask that didn’t feel contrived – it ended up taking away from the rest of the logo, trying to pull that out.

I think I’m happier we ended up just finding a few little tweaks to clean up the original logo. I thought the original had some solid design choices, and by just simplifying some factors, I think we just dialed the design up just enough to make it a really solid logo with longevity. It’s always a pleasure to work with like-minded, easy going designers, and exchanging ideas.

The ‘Process’

Sometimes I look at a brand and just instantly see where it’s supposed to be, and where it’s broken, and I can dive right into Illustrator and make it work. Sometimes I get a brief and I have a few ideas I have to muddle through and try out before inspiration really strikes. In between that, I could spend an hour or so just sketching every idea or shape that comes to mind in a sketchbook. I do tend to do a google search or two during the process – sometimes for thematic inspiration like ‘bauhaus’ or ‘vintage’, or simply looking at different design trends and see what seems to have longevity.

And sometimes I just watch stupid videos online for a few hours, get into a panic about two hours before I want to go to bed, and something just barfs out of me before I can sleep.

Do You Prefer Guidelines or Free Reign?

Guidelines – I need some boundaries, or I can end up spinning my wheels aimlessly for too long. “Design something cool” tells me nothing. “I’d like to project a feeling of nonchalance, using iconography from the speakeasy, and I really like X type of logos” could be enough. It all depends on the project.

Firemonster sketch – Dan Simon/march1studios.com

Dan’s History with RPGs

I started playing AD&D with some friends when I was 12. I purchased the ruleset book because I thought it looked cool, and had no idea what I was doing. We had a lot more fun making these giant maps, and making up crazy stories – I don’t even know if we were playing the game right. It was just fun. When I lost touch with those guys, I kind of forgot about RPG’s.

It wasn’t until 4th ed D&D came out that I was invited to play again, and I was just completely enamored. I joined another group playing 3.5, and couldn’t get enough. I’ve completely switched over to playing 5th edition, and helped my FLGS build their Adventure League gaming night – I just wanted a chance to play more D&D, but I ended up becoming a DM and loved running games. I haven’t had opportunity to try many other gaming systems, but I want to. I’d really like to give Shadowrun and Fate a chance.

With video games, I’m not much of a gamer. I enjoy them occasionally, but I don’t like that most games now involve some kind of online multiplayer experience. I prefer games just to have a story to tell, with a beginning, middle and end. I have a short attention span for the multiplayer games – I did play Day of Defeat for awhile, but it just gets repetitive, and when I play with other people, I prefer the face-to-face experience of tabletop games.

I used to play stuff like Zork and Myst when I was in college. I really liked Dishonored, and I enjoyed Skyrim to a point. Favorite game of all time was probably Shadow of the Colossus. Now I spend most of my free time away from screens when I can.

I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up – at least not until I hit high school (I went to an arts school for that). I struggled with depression early on, and had some anger issues. Drawing is a safe place for me. I can lose myself for hours, express myself, work out my thoughts, or just calm down. So being ostracized at school, or harassed occasionally, I’d read books about heroes and dragons and escape, and I’d connect with that at a different level by trying to create my own worlds, or draw the things I’d see in the books, or the comics.

Greatest Successes

I just won the poster design contest for the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in Toronto. I know that seems weird, and unrelated to what I do normally, but it’s this big, 10 day fair that’s been happening in Toronto for nearly a 100 years. They have lots of competitions for various animals, auctions, and education and food pavilions – the whole thing is a way to connect the country and the city. I love going to it. I’m so allergic to horses, but I love them, and cows, and pigs, and sheep. So I entered the poster contest this year, and won. I don’t know if that’s my ‘greatest’ accomplishment, but it’s the biggest one, recently. I don’t tend to look back over old accomplishments much. I’m always looking for the next project.

Any tips for aspiring artists and designers?

Practice. Everyday. All the time. Talent is a bit of a myth – nobody is just born a great artist or designer. If anything, Talent is a word that means someone who is passionate about their craft, practices constantly. Some people have a better eye for things than others.

Also – when you’re designing for a client, it’s not your artwork. It’s a lesson I had to learn – a lot of young designers and artists think that they’re the final say on what will see the light of day. But when you’re working on commission or making a logo for someone, your job isn’t to make a piece of artwork. It’s to use your talents and skills to help someone else make their vision a reality. Listen to what your clients want, and make it a conversation about ideas, not a lecture on design.

Thanks so much, Dan, for sitting down to talk with us! You can see more of his fantastic work at March1Studios.com

Chris van der Linden

Founder, Creative Director

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