A new year and a new logo. I can’t help myself, I’m afraid. Farting around with the look and feel of X&HT is one of my pleasures. The place is like a shed, and every so often I get the need to shift things around and clear out the cupboards. Inevitably, I’ll find a dead mouse somewhere in a dark corner, but that is the nature of spring cleaning.

I thought it might be nice to wander through the different logos I’ve designed for X&HT over the years, and something about why I made the choices that ended up on the site.

A few notes on my way with design before we start: big, bold, tending towards abstraction. Simple, primary colours. Black, white and red all over (with the odd exception, as you’ll see).

The first banner, then, in 2008 was an attempt at negative space using an oversized version of the phrase X&HT.

Not, as you might think, a vector file. This was set in ExtraExtra from the brilliant Lovecraft font collection, which is well worth your attention.

Nice idea, but I could never get the ampersand to bed up against the X in the way I wanted, and it was a little too abstract for what I was after. It lasted less than a week, while I worked on a new logo.

The X&HT logo I came up with was set in Metalista, and then tweaked and nudged until everything fell into place. I’m still happy with this one, even after I retired it in 2009.

With that settled, I could put together a banner. I wanted to come up with something dynamic, which I sorted by incorporating the logo with a quote, that I would change every once in a while. Just when I came across something that I found amusing. The first one set the look which would help X&HT get started. The quote body font is Electro Gothic, again from the Lovecraft collection. You’ll see those a lot here.

More in the same vein, with odd tweaks to font and positioning. Notice I’ve tried to break the end of the logo into negative space. Looking at it now, it’s a shame I didn’t enlarge the logo a little more to really break up the black box feel.

In 2009 I started to think that there needed to be more about me in the branding, so I tweaked things around within the black box and popped in a logline about myself.

Which is where it started to go wrong. It was somehow crowded and text-heavy, but still had an acre of black space. Unhappy, I tried reversing everything out.

Yech. Even worse. Now it was just random bits of text floating around for no reason, and the logo was shoved in a corner. There was no way of stretching it out within the confines of the banner space. It was time for a rethink.

BAM. Colour, and the point where I retired the quote and logo. See the different ampersand? That’s a weird property of the Lovecraft Headline font I was using, which changes form depending on font size in Gimp, the free programme I use for graphic work. The smaller form was used as body text in the late iterations of the logo banner. I ended up liking it so much that it was promoted.

A nice, sunshiney yellow, a new logline, and I decided to take myself off the banner. I am such an ego-free zone. This was initially tried with a red background, which made the site look too tabloidy. Not nice. This version would last until I got itchy fingers again in 2010.

Hello, old friend. This was my most successful attempt at playing with negative space. Is the logo white text on a black ground, or a black cutout on a white ground? Anyway. Always liked this one. Notice the first appearance of the Rated R tagline, and the disappearance of the ampersand. It better matched the site’s URL and gave the text a bit more solidity and rhythm.The logo was set in Whoopass, from the brilliant comic font site Blambot. Loads of free fonts to be had there.

On a related subject, the Rated R logo now on site has been reverse engineered rather than built from scratch. I’m not saying where I got it, and you’d be unlikely to guess. But it’s always worth keeping your eyes open for elements that might be of use. Call it a remix rather than a steal.

So, to the new version of the X&HT banner. I’ve lost the box, wanting the top of the blog to breathe a little more. The font is Cubano, from a great new pay-what-you-want foundry, Lost Type. Tons of great Americana-style display fonts for your perusal and downloading pleasure. There’s a tiny bit of Guassian blur on there to drop the logo back a little, but otherwise it’s the most straightforward banner I’ve ever made for the site. Although I think it kinda looks like an afterimage of staring too long at the 2010 banner.

There have also been a couple of Halloween banners, which are fun, quick and easy to do. The first is another Blambot font, You Murderer, the second a free font called Skullphabet. Because, you know, skulls.

That’s us up to date for now, but who can tell when I’ll get bored or want to try out a great new font again? What do you think of the new logo, Readership?


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Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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