Building a business card/designing a logo for free...

We’re trying to design a business card using a CD-ROM for that purpose. How can we design a logo for that business for free?

What we want it an H with angel wings and a halo on top. Now, there are sites where I can age my photo for free, where I can make a South Park character of myself for free, where I can find my celebrity lookalike for free, but nothing where I can actually design/draw a logo for free?

Why not hire a professional?

If you want free, there’s the Paint application that comes with Windows.

You could try 99 designs, a website where you establish a prize and graphic designers compete for it. Your logo could be pretty easy to do, maybe put up $50 and that will be faster and easier than doing it yourself from scratch or by using clip art.

You can either hand-draw one and get it scanned by a friend/relative with a scanner, or use MS Paint to make a bitmapped file. Paint is fine for dirt-cheap work, but it helps a ton to understand raster images.

You could try throwing this to a local college’s graphic-arts class. In school, I’d have done something like this gratis just to do it.

Just some thoughts:

  1. Whatever you do, insist on a logo in vector format (EPS for example) not raster (JPG, GIF, etc.) Eventually, you’ll want to scale it up without pixels showing.
  2. Never use a logo without a trademark search if you’d be upset by losing the right to use it. This is especially true for logo design software or clip art, where it’s likely that someone else will use a similar combination.
  3. Talk to print shops about your logo, especially in regards to the number of colors. Any logo should be easily converted to a black and white version (or other one- or two-color version) to save on printing costs.

These are lessons that have been learned the hard way time and again by myself and other businesses I work with.

VistaPrint has a free logo design option. There are a lot of logo design programs that may not be free, but sure aren’t expensive. I have one that I’ve used for brainstorming that cost $30.

Overall, you’re better off talking to local colleges or art schools. There are kids out there who can get class credit for your logo and make it a valuable addition to their portfolio. The root of my current logo came from a marketing class where teams of students compete to produce logos for real companies.


You wanna do WHAT?!
Your logo is the spear head of your marketing plan.

It should ‘tell your story’ at a glance.

It’s the single most important item you will own after your product.

There is a reason some companies spend thousands of dollars on a logo.

At the very least, do some major homework before you just barf up something that will do you more harm than good.

Search for websites that discuss logo design…a bunch of them. Look at the logos for your competition and see what they are doing…and try to figure out WHY they are doing what they are doing.

There’s **A TON **of considerations to weigh and balance before you make business cards.

Take your time.

If your logo looks amateur, then YOU look amateur.

**Myself **pretty much covered what I have to say. Every day I see logos that were obviously designed by amateurs (or very inexperienced professionals). I’m sure these people spent a long time on the design, and they think their work is of professional quality. But it still looks like shit. I have 45 years of experience in the graphic arts, and believe me, if your logo was designed by an amateur, it will hurt your business.

If you are looking for a proper tool to design a logo, get Inkscape. It should let you turn your ideas into something you can see on a screen (using vectors, exportable as EPS/SVG/etc).

As for the actual design for a logo - for a commercial development, I agree with Myself. But the decision to spend money depends on your ability to recoup those costs, so YMMV.


I also agree with Myself. A logo is a the first thing a potential customer sees. You need it to represent you well, and you want it to look professional. Maybe you can do that on your own. Maybe you have some skill in graphic design.

Just don’t make the mistake of tacking wings and a halo onto the H. You need to somehow make them flow from, or one with the H so it doesn’t look pasted together.

Check out some of these great designs for inspiration:

still more

As an example of what NOT to do…

A local foot clinic had the most unforgettable logo I have ever seen, but not in a good way. The “Sunshine Foot Clinic” logo consisted of a window with a shining sun outside. Hanging in this window was the caduceus symbol, and sitting on the sill was a foot. It was horrendous! Just this disembodied foot sitting in a window. Not only was the concept bad, but the design of it was amateur. It looked as if the owner had gotten his 12-year-old to both design and draw it.

Since then, they have gotten a new, professional looking logo. I don’t remember what it looks like. I only remember the first awful one.

Case in point - the first impression better be a good one. Logos are for life, so it may be worth the investment if you can’t pull it off yourself.

I agree you should hire someone but since this is GQ, start here for free wings.

You don’t need a professional. People in the business tell you that, cause they WANT you to buy their service. A logo should be simple. This is very important in the computer world, because you want to be able to blow it up HUGE and to shrink it to 16X16 which is a favicon. This is called an SVG

As one poster noted Inkscape is a good FREE program.

You can use another free program called XNVIEW, if you want to use a photo. Take the photo import it in there and use EFFECTS to see what you want. Then put use that to save it and import it into Inkscape.

Look at all the professional logos which are successful and nothing more than half circles or a simple style. There are tons of business successful with nothing more than a stylized capital letter.

I can guarantee you 100% I can take your professional business card and with my computer and free programs copy it go to my internet cafe and print up business cards that are 100% indistinguishable from professional ones. In fact I’ve done it, time and time again.

If you have absolutely no artistic taste, perhaps then you should get a pro :slight_smile:

This is really bad advice. Even a “simple” logo requires someone with good artistic judgment. There are all sorts of variables involved that an amateur (or inexperienced professional) would overlook.

This is not true. We say people need professionals because 9 times out of 10 it’s true. Some of the simplest logos are the ones that are the hardest to get right. If you can design a professional looking logo, you are not average.

And I have to add: it’s usually the type that people get wrong. Everything from choosing a font to sizing, leading, tracking, kerning, alignment and other factors make a tremendous difference to the total design.

Especially kerning. Nothing is evidence of amateurish design more than bad kerning. If you don’t even know what kerning is, you are not a professional designer, and have no business pretending that you are.

I agree with Myself (what a surprise!) and disagree with Markxxx. No one here is trying to sell you a service. I’m not an artist, I’m not trying to get you to hire me, and I’m seconding the advice to get a professional designer with logo experience.

I’ve worked with graphic artists more than 30 years and have a great deal of respect for people who can make a simple, effective logo design. Markxxx and many other people may think that designing a logo is easy because, as is the case with most professionals, the really good ones make it look easy. But it’s not.

Hire a good artist and treat him/her with respect. In post #2 you’ve described a basic concept for the design. It might be the perfect concept, or it could be that a good artist could suggest something even better.

Also, as is the case with lawyering, even if you *could *do it yourself, you probably shouldn’t. That’s because you aren’t as good a judge of your own designs as you are of someone else’s. Even if the H with wings is the right concept, and even if you’re a halfway decent artist, you will naturally be partial to your own design. And people around you may not be qualified to critique the design, or they may not feel free to be perfectly honest with you about it.

So, like many others here, I strongly recommend hiring a professional artist. And I urge you to start with a clean sheet and get his/her input on the whole concept. Don’t just say, “Give me an H with wings.”

Finally, if you decide to go ahead and do it yourself, I strongly urge you to 1) make several very different designs, and 2) post links to them here for us to critique. I can assure you that we will be constructively critical.

And frankly, don’t be surprised if we look at your designs and say, “Hire a pro.”

I have to agree with this. As someone who is a professional visual artist (as a photographer) and (in my not so humble opinion) has a good eye for design, a simple, effective, and well-balanced logo is much harder than it would seem. My own stylistic preferences are towards simple, strong designs (think Paul Rand’s work). It’s one thing to be able to look at a simple logo and say “that’s effective and well-designed” and quite another thing to come up with it. Were I making a logo for my business, I would hire a professional who has knowledge of the finer points, even though I have a pretty decent knowledge of the basics of design, typography, and graphic arts history. There’s a lot of really shitty design out there and I like to think I could tell who is cutting corners by designing it themselves or hiring people with below-average talent.

Here’s a site with good information, but I’ll advise you to do as they say, not as they do: The Logo Factory. Their notes about the important elements of a logo are very good, but their own logo sucks, IMHO. To be fair, they actually admit it and critique it fairly well. I’d give them a D, not a B, as they do, which supports my claim that you can’t fairly judge your own work.

ETA: Here’s one of the problems with starting out with a bad logo. This is a company that is in the business of designing logos, for Og’s sake, and they admit their own logo is not top-notch. Yet they keep it, probably because they feel that it is too strongly associated with them to completely abandon!

See herefor some look-alike so-called Web 2.0 logos that you should probably not emulate.

And here are some examples of bad logos, many probably designed by the company owner, or by some other non-pro designer, to save money.

And here are some logos that went really wrong.