A client of my own design

When it came time to create the identity for my company, I got the chance to play both roles in the process: designer and client. As client, I felt that the brand was something that needed to embody creativity and professionalism, be strong and bold, unique but manageable, simple yet memorable.

As designer, I started with the name. I like the idea of putting my name on my work, but "Dan Metz Design" was so default, and done by so many people, I thought it wouldn't stand out very much. Plus, if the venture grows in any way (i.e.: more than just me), it wouldn't describe the company very well. I've always liked the "Metz" name, especially the way the all-caps version links together (the tops of 'ETZ' can be drawn as a continuous line), so I started with that.

Next I wanted to add a single word that described what the company does, the obvious first choice was "design," making the name "Metz Design." For some reason, the client in me didn't quite like it, and I realized: even though I am a designer, it's not all that I am, or all I'm trying to accomplish with this venture. Even though I am trained in design and have worked in the field for 20 years, I've had a lifelong passion for a myriad of creative endeavors: drawing, painting, sculpture, writing, glass casting and blowing, architecture, cooking, (the list goes on...) I'd like to incorporate more of the 'other stuff' I do into my formal business name. So, I added "Arts."

"Metz Arts." Perfect. My inner client loved it for its simplicity and straightforwardness, plus its flexibility.

Now Dan the designer got to work, generating lots of ideas for the way this name could become a mark. I've never gotten a tattoo, not because I'm against them, only because I've never been able to settle on a single image I want on my body forever. Similarly, I didn't want a symbol or graphic for Metz Arts, just the text. So I played with typography, trying out different fonts to see how well they could support the concept, moved the words' arrangement around, used various color treatments and generated quite a few variations to consider. Then I walked away and tried not to think about it. I find doing that keeps me fresh.

Then one morning it hit me: there's the same number of letters in both words, so I stacked them. When I converted them to all caps, I immediately saw that each letter below was similar in form to the one above, and the T's were even in the same spot! It was an "aha moment." When I flipped the word "ARTS" upside down, I could see it formed a shadow or reflection of "METZ," especially when I made it lighter. I knew I had it right then.

This treatment covered all my original client goals: a solid name, all caps for visual strength, no curves and equal character heights for simplicity and a sense of professionalism. The ethereal nature of creativity is there in the vertically flipped "ARTS," lightened to create a reflection of the name. In the end, the overall mark becomes a visual “puzzle” to solve, (hopefully) making it unique and memorable.