Over the past few weeks, I have come across and have had the pleasure of getting to know some very exciting, creative personalities. One of them happens to be the founder of Logomotive and a good friend, Mike Erickson. A lot of you relate to him via his "duck" persona and a lot of you remember him as the creator of some brilliant logos. He is a respected member of many online creative communities and his work is truly exceptional. When I suggested doing an interview with Mike, he gladly obliged to shed some light on his life, his career choice and what motivates him. Well, read on to get a closer glimpse of the master illustrator who has created some fantastic logos.
Thank you for doing this interview Mike and for sharing the man behind the duck with our readers. Let me get right to it.
1. Who is Mike Erickson? Can you shed some light on your personal façade? What does the duck symbolize?
I am a father of four, with 3 of the four being triplets. Being a father is my most important role and being a great dad is my main goal. I am a professional designer that specializes in logos and branding and illustrative work. My strongest aspect in my work is probably my memorable marks and type treatments to compliment the mark. I am also a typographer with half a dozen typefaces on the market. I have been designing professionally since 1998 and enjoy the creativity this business alllows.
The DUCK! ha ha long story but in short, the duck was actually a mascot I designed for a client. The client wanted a more shady duck. I really liked the duck so I threw it on my site as a side note and the duck was the thing everyone mentioned when making inquiries. They liked my duck. I have just kept my duck there and many know me by the duck. I’m currently rebranding my identity but feel somehow I need to have my duck’s presence somewhere for my returning clients.
2. When did you design your first logo and what motivated you to design logos for a living?
My first logo was actually done for a contest for a local newspaper. The entries were local high schoolers. I was thrilled to make the finals and have my picture in the Scaramento Bee. My first professional logo was done by hand and scanned in because I was unfamiliar with computer software. I designed this logo for a friend who led me on to another friend and started designing Tshirt designs. I decided after a year from doing this to start Logo Motive Designs (more as a hobby at first). I remember getting my first official Logo Motive Designs check, I was so excited!
3. What is your favorite logo out of your own creations? How did that develop?
That’s a very tough question because honestly I don’t have a "favorite" because each design is different and aimed at a different audience. I have a lot of favorites for different reasons. BUT if I had to choose 1 or 2, I would say my Deep Six Brewery to be my favorite in the "Illustrative" category, I had fun with the entire project. My Redfox,.. a happy mistake is my favorite simple logo because it uses the same shapes and angles yet creates a strong memorable mark.
4. Describe the process of your creation .. from concept to finished design. What are the factors that influence you in your creations?
First, I read the brief and try to visualize the clients needs and cater to their wants if I can. I do a lot of brainstorming, sometime taking my clients logos to bed with me and not sleeping for hours. When my creative juices start kicking (sometimes in the oddest hours) I grab a pencil and paper and begin sketching ideas out. I have a quote I would like to share that might help newer designers out there. "The Pencil is mightier than the mouse."
5. Where do you draw your creative inspirations from? Do you ever come up against a designer’s block? What gets you through it?
If you look around inspiration is everywhere. I try to avoid going online or looking at galleries, I find inspiration from the real world and real world material. Designer’s block good question, humm me nay? of course I do. I stare at a blank piece of paper for hours sometimes. I have days I cannot even draw a good stick figure. When this happens I need to take a break and go watch TV or something. You cannot force creativity, it just happens. However sometimes I have deadlines and have to really push myself.
6. How do you best deal with problem clients?
Send them a refund?No just kidding. I guess when I have a difficult client, I go more into stronger solution mode than being wildly creative. I ask them what do we need to do to be on the same page? I do my best to offer my professional advice and tell them what they "need" but sometimes you just have to listen to what they want.
7. If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
Good question. Let me see,.. I’ve been an EMT(Volunteer FireFighter),Licensed Contractor,Conductor for the UP Railroad…etc. one of those but most likely a conductor for the RR. I wanted to be a pro Baseball Player but not quite good enough.
8. Are there any golden rules to logo design? Not everyone can design logos, but how important do you think inherent, natural talent is as opposed to sheer hard work and persistence?
I would say one of the most important golden rule is to be organized and document your work. I think natural talent makes it easier for some but I think passion and the desire to learn can make one successful. I think a creative person with natural talent and a good eye is untouchable, however don’t forget the marketing skills (something I need to strengthen) we all need in this day.
9. What milestones do you want to achieve in your current line of work? Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would like to get some more typefaces out on the market. I have about 15 in the works but they are not easy to do. Hopefully in 10 years I will be more financially stable and continue doing what I love to do. I have pondered the idea of a book or offering some kind of design consulting.
10. What is the single most important thing, you have learnt from being in this business for all these years? What wisdom would you like to share with designers just starting out?
The single most important piece of wisdon I can share is do your own thing, and be organized and document everything while doing this. Don’t copy others style or work but create your own style.
Sneh, thanks for giving me this opportunity. Best of luck to you and every designer out there.
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