warning! this is a long post about the history of painted fish studio’s identity…
i really don’t know where my fish “thing” came from, but it made itself known in my late teens. when i was a sophomore in college, i started making handmade greeting cards and was selling them in a few stores, thanks to a friend’s mom that liked them and had a few retail spots. i decided to call myself “painted fish art & design” after a friend told me she wanted to open a b&b and call it painted pillows or painted eggs… i can’t remember which, but i liked that use of the word “painted” as adjective, especially paired with fish. i added “art & design” to the name, thinking that i could use it not only for my greeting card biz, but maybe also use it once i finished with my graphic design degree as an umbrella for design work, too. i think i still have the different fish sketches i made for the logo somewhere, but here is what i ended up using:
i decided to hand write the name, since the chosen fish was very sketchy. i was also very new to design, and believe it or not, i was just learning how to use a computer and graphic design programs (this was 1994, people!) and i hadn’t taken a typography course yet. so hand written it was, and i had a stamp made that i used to leave my mark on the back of my greeting cards.
when i was a junior in college i took a required business course, and i used my little greeting card business as my main project, and it became a legit business. i registered the name and everything.
but then a little thing called the internet appeared, and in my last year of design school i learned how to program HTML and i took a job at a dot-com as a web designer. also around that time: i met a nice boy, i bought my house, i subscribed to martha stewart living, and i stopped creating for a few years.
then the boy and i broke up, i lost my job when the dot-com bubble burst, and i became a self-employed web/information designer. gradually i began creating again, and in the summer of 2003 i made a ton of books and i revived painted fish, but this time i dropped the “art & design” and went with “studio”. i created a new logo, using emigre’s font dalliance, and i designed a website. here’s what my site looked like in 2004:
not much came out of all that work, though. my books were boxed up (i was too shy to walk into stores and peddle my wares), and they sat for a few more years while i worked on my career. i took classes occasionally (painting, collage, bookmaking, pottery…) and i hosted pARTies, but that was the extent of my creative life.
then in the summer of 2007 my grandfather passed away, and i needed to focus on something besides that event and the eventual end of my relationship with the boy (we were on round 2). a friend suggested i put my work on etsy, and after a few weeks of yes i should/i don’t have time/are you crazy?/yes i should, i decided to open the shop and i started this blog. the font dalliance was still my choice for the logo, only this time the layout was simple and a lighter grey:
when i realized i needed an avatar to represent painted fish studio elsewhere on the internet, i struggled a bit to figure out what it would be, because typography alone would be unreadable/unrecognizable as a small avatar. then i remembered a page from an altered book i work on occasionally. i had cut out an orange fish from decorative paper and pasted it onto a page:
i took a photo of it, scaled it down, brightened it up a little, and that’s the fish you’re all very familiar with if you visit my etsy, facebook, and/or twitter pages:
now it’s time for something new! i’m a little tired of the painted fish studio name, and sometimes think it’s silly and stupid. but there’s good brand recognition with it, and to abandon it at this stage would likely set me back. and i don’t have a better name in mind, and i don’t feel comfortable just using my name. so painted fish studio is sticking around. i also want a new avatar, something that is truly my design, and less collage-y.
. . . . . . .
when i sat down in june 2010 and carved a couple fish stamps in erasers, i had no idea that one of the fish would end up being a favorite, and eventually become my symbol. (graphic design lesson: the image in a logo is called a symbol or icon. when you add typography to the symbol, then you have a logo. if you have only typography, like i did when i used the font dalliance, then technically what you have is called a logotype or wordmark.)
i started using the fish stamp with orange ink on my packaging, and it grew on me. then heather’s dad created a big wood version for me, and it sank in: this fish is it.
at the end of last year, i started doing design mockups with the fish front and center, and i revisited another old font favorite: meta. meta brings back fond memories of my first design job in the late ’90′s, when i was bright-eyed and ready for the world.
and that brings us to the new design:
i’m really happy with it. the look is a little more modern and clean, which reflects my aesthetic in my work. and i love having an orange fish! i’ve had new stamps made, i think i’ve updated all my online presences, and i’ll be phasing in new printed materials (invoices, moo cards, etc.) as the old ones run out.
and that’s the evolution of the identity of painted fish studio. if you made it to the end, bravo! happy weekend!