The first thing I did after filing my “Doing Business As” paperwork with the county was to send a message to my friend Siso to ask him if he would design a logo for me. Siso and I had worked together at Impression 5 Science Center, so I had been able to see his design process up close and knew I liked working with him.
At the time I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. I just needed someone with the art skills to make it happen. But the thing about hiring a designer rather than just someone to “do this thing” is that you often end up getting something much better than what you ask for.
What I asked for was a simple silhouette of a star. But as we met and talked about how to make it distinctive and the feelings and associations we wanted the logo to evoke/avoid, I ended up showing him this little video that I was obsessed with at the time (kind of as an aside), and things suddenly took an entirely different direction.
As we chatted about why I loved this so much (I actually went to college seeking a degree in marine biology before I switched to general biology in order to double major in physics and still graduate in four years, the feather star is a modern species of crinoid – and as a native Kansan I have piles of tiny crinoid fossils I have dug out of limestone roadbeds, some of my favorite pieces of speculative fiction of all time have ocean settings) it became clear that we were no longer chatting about viral youtube videos, we were talking about the new logo.
I have a lot of opinions about working with friends when you are trying to start up a new business or creative enterprise, but the most important of them is this: Pay. Them. Whether it’s in cash or in cookies or in a case of Diet Coke, you’ve got to pay them what you can now, and if it’s not enough, keep your receipts and pay them the rest when you get that first real check. Artists may be Doing It For The Love, but they still need money.
But even as much as I love the finished product, my favorite thing about working with Siso is his real passion for People Doing It For Themselves. His day job is at an economic development organization where he helps new businesses get started up and mentors students in entrepreneurship. Plus, he already believed in me as a person, and I left every meeting with him feeling more confident and excited in my new endeavor.
To me, the finished product evokes the blind optimism of life and evolution, grace under the tremendous underwater pressure of the ocean, light in the dark. Science and mystery. Organic messiness and beauty. As a tiny colophon on the spine of a novella, I hope it will look more like a traditional starburst, and then when blown up large, suddenly there is all this additional detail.
I love it so much.
What does it say to you?