In the May 2011 issue of HOW, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Creative Services team took us behind the scenes of the logo design for the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. Here, designer Greg Beall, explains the process behind creating the logo.
Each year our Creative Services team looks forward to working on one of our official event logos. We each have plenty of projects we work on throughout the year, but producing an event logo is one of the few things we feel a great deal of personal ownership toward.
Our event logos are printed on about everything that is produced by IMS. Everything from merchandise to wine bottles to fancy watches. There is much joy when seeing something you created on the back of a fan’s T-shirt and knowing the process you went through to design it. For me, designing the Official 2011 Indianapolis 500 event logo was a challenge, to say the least.
We always begin designing the event logos a year in advance, but 2011 being a super special year, this process got started a bit earlier than normal. I started physically working on this logo in August of 2009 and was thinking about it well before that. My first thoughts were to come up with something that would distinguish the past from the future. I was looking at the 2011 logo as something that could provide a cornerstone in our timeline of logos. I wanted to design a logo that would not be what someone would expect from a 100th anniversary logo from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway—a logo that would stand out from the rest as a transition into the new.
The first few versions of the logo did not look anything like what was finally approved as the Official Event Logo. To be honest, my original vision for the direction of the logo is entirely different from the final product that you see today.
Input and feedback from the entire team is an important part of the design process, and a meeting was called to share my initial work and concepts towards the logo. However, the Creative team came to the conclusion that our fans would prefer to see us go in the direction of something even more unique and unexpected for the 100th Anniversary logo.
Working with that direction, I was still working on a few different versions. You might be surprised to find out that a second, and even third version of the logo did not get final approval from the team. As the lead designer for the project, this can be frustrating, but for a logo as important as the 2011 Indy 500 logo, having the best possible design was my goal at the end of the day and I just had to keep working with feedback I received from the entire team. It was a rollercoaster ride of a process at times!
At one point I even tried starting over from the beginning, despite being a full seven months along since I was first assigned the project. This time, I decided to run with a totally new direction.
With this new direction I started researching and pulling visuals of past material that IMS had produced, going back to old program covers, credentials, tickets and anything else I could find from which to pull inspiration. Right off the bat we were off to a good start in this new direction. I was cookin’ and making it happen as coming up with something that was more traditional and expected is way easier than coming up with something new and different. After my initial sketch on paper, to taking this to the computer, everything was going well.
Of course, I had small adjustments to make over time. I find the best thing to do is work hard on something and then don’t even look at it for a day, come back to it, and see what jumps out at me as being out of place. That is one reason why some of this design stuff seems to take so much time to get right. There was also advice and suggestions from non-designers. Suggestions are always much appreciated, and part of my job is to filter through the comments and suggestions and apply this non-artistic guidance toward making a stronger mark in the end. Everyone is going to have a different opinion, especially when it comes to projects as important as the Indy 500 logo, but part of the design process is to take this input and guidance and turn it into the best-possible final product.
I think the mark we came up with represents the history of the Indianapolis 500 well. I can honestly say that the logo would not have turned out as it did without the help of everyone involved. The feedback so far that I have heard, has been positive and that I really all that matters to me. Hope you like it too!
MORE RESOURCES FOR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS