Colors: The Story of the PGH Logo

Behind the Scenes, Colors, Design & Designers

I was asked what the Playfully Grownup logo is and where it comes from. I’ll give you two answers: a short and a long one.

Short answer:

I created it on the basis of a piece of historical embroidery from Finland. It’s meant to evoke a window or a house and to appear in multiples with a rainbow-like effect rippling through the squares. The different colors refer to inclusiveness and human diversity, both physically, mentally and culturally.

Long answer:

I created the logo on the basis of a piece of historical embroidery from Finland. When I was brainstorming the logo, I looked at everything I could think of. For a while, I was working on a pattern I got from photographing a print fabric, cropping a section and re-coloring it in various ways. In the end I wasn’t very taken with it, so out it went. Not to mention the potential copyright issues – this fabric was still in production a year or two ago, and even if my usage might be considered de minimis *and* transformational, it was a can of worms I didn’t want to open.

I was also inspired to look at my old textile history files. I got into textile history originally through the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA) and live action role-play (LARPing), but I also chose topics related to textile history in my formal studies. One of my minors at the university was Finnish and comparative ethnology. In addition to barn type distributions, oven types vis-a-vis food traditions, wooing customs, informant interview techniques and whatnot, I read on Finnish folk costumes and traditional Finnish hand sewing techniques and materials. (Come to think of it, so much of my textile history reading was outside school. I really should have been smarter and found a way to get credit for it!)

There was a pattern book I was particularly interested in and used a lot. I *think* it’s Theodor Schvindt’s book Ompelu- ja nauhakoristeita (publ. Helsinki SKS, 1992). Unfortunately, my notes and the copies I made from the book got separated, so I can’t be sure anymore. In any case, I copied a few of the patterns into .bmp files. (Quaint, eh? 🙂 ) Here’s one of the images I painstakingly created:

Kuvio2 w Arrow

Some Finnish folk embroidery patterns. The red arrow points to the section I used as the basis for my business logo.

The image has several snippets of embroidery patterns. I believe most came from apron hems or hand towel endblocks or similar flat textiles. I mostly copied just enough to see how the pattern elements repeat; the full patterns / textiles were quite magnificent. In this image, the pattern on upper left caught my eye, especially the center of the rightmost motif. (I’ve blown it up and circled the motif center in the image.) I grabbed that section only…

SquarePNG…and started playing around with it. Here’s a collage of just some of the intermediate stages in the development process:

Logo Development Collage

1. Turning the original design 45 degrees and multiplying a small section. 2. Copying the original design as a tile. 3. Making a panel with two rows of the original design and experimenting with different colors.

Turning the original design 45 degrees and multiplying a small section didn’t pan out – see (1) in the image above. Copying the original design as a tile (2) looked more promising. Nothing really grabbed me, however, until I made a panel with two rows of the original design (3). That created a whole new focal point, the “window”, and I decided to use that as the basic building block for my logo. Then it was just a matter of experimenting with different colors and repeats. At one point I even played around with adding a “roof”, but that idea didn’t live long.

For my business card, I made a few rows of blocks for the top and bottom:

Business Cards 1st BatchI initially had the same design on this website, but I found it visually too heavy. Only one row of blocks looks much better.

The logo block is also less effective singly than as a panel. I think it still works just fine because two colors are more interesting than one. Below is the banner for my Etsy store’s front page:

PGH Etsy Banner 100x760

I picked the blue block as the default stand-alone doohickey, since greyish blue is my favorite color. I’ve also started to use the stand-alone block for reserving my Etsy items when I get a request:

Reserved Listing Purple

The logo is really meant to appear in multiples, however, with a rainbow effect rippling through the squares:

Thin Banner 1102x350I chose the rainbow-like effect because I like having color around. For me, colors are an aspect of happiness, and increasing my happiness was one reason for starting this business. I was also thinking of inclusiveness. It’s staggering how diverse both physically, mentally and culturally humans are. While I’m not interested in everything we humans do, I find such variety amazing. Finally, it’s also a subtle nod towards the gay pride rainbow flag. (I am not gay, but I am an ally. As a geek who has received her fair share of prejudice and dismissal for my “weird” interests, I will not intentionally inflict the same kind of pain on others.)

I also quite like how the different colors change from one block to another roughly through the color spectrum with the possibility of endless repeat. No individual block is monotone, just like people are rarely reducible into one stereotype.

The “window” logo fit my business idea (home textiles) particularly well, I thought. However, I was a little concerned over potential Microsoft Windows logo infringement accusations. (If you look at my initial color experiments in the development image, the resemblance is stronger.) It was definitely a consideration in creating the final form of the logo and why in the end I chose two-colored logo blocks for single appearances and the rainbow-like effect for multiples.

Many of the choices I’ve made are highly personal preferences. I’m under no delusion that my creation holds universal appeal. The logo works hand-in-hand with my business idea and visual taste, however, and that is quite enough for the moment. Also, it’s the first time I’ve designed a logo. It was a fascinating process, and almost as satisfying as creating something tangible. 🙂

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