Branding for a World-Builder


Y'all. This is a good one. I have been dreaming of this logo for a while now, and this week it finally came true! I had the great honor of creating an illustration for my best friend and (self-proclaimed) twin. Amongst other things, Mrs. Allison J. Kennedy is an author with three--almost four--completed novels under her belt. She's also a photographer, a poet, an artist, a singer, a guitarist, and an all around jack-of-all-creative-trades. Although, if she's really my twin, that probably doesn't apply to dancing.

When she first approached me about rebranding her author identity, she had an abstract vision for me: something "naturey," maybe with an owl or a moon or trees. She also mentioned that she had thought about an open book with trees coming out of it. That last idea, I loved, and it wasn't long before I got to sketching.

We both liked the idea of a kind of origami, folded paper look, which I tried to incorporate into the very messy, extremely rough (sorry!) sketch that you see above. Allison loved the sketch in spite of its roughness, and gave me the go-ahead to start the digital version.

Initially, I created a simplified illustration with green trees using Adobe Illustrator. But I couldn't stop thinking, "What if the trees were actually made out of the paper in the book?" So I came up with two versions to begin. One with trees colored like trees, and one with all the elements white.

Not bad. But what if the "world" growing out of the book looked like it had literally been built out of the book itself? Another rough draft, and...

Not perfect, but better! And best of all, Allison loved the concept too, though it still had a ways to go. For the final version, I added a little color variation to the pages of the open book. As for the lines of text on the trees, it was my thought that they couldn't be just any old words. They should be something special, and what could be more special than words from the author herself? Allison was happy to provide excerpts from each book of her trilogy to use as material.  

To format the text, I used clipping masks and the envelope distort tool in Illustrator to mimic the look of actual open pages in a book. In the end we agreed we needed to remove the paragraph breaks and indents to better fill out the trees, but don't worry--if you ever read an Allison Kennedy novel, it will definitely have paragraphs!

Finishing touches included a slight drop shadow for depth (i personally felt this lent more to the whole "paper cut-out" look), as well as a gradient and some diffusing on the backing sphere. For the final illustration, we were left with this:

All that remained was to add her name. The font choice was unanimous (we went with Carrig Refined Roman). However, Allison couldn't quite decide which arrangement she wanted, so (lucky her!) she got two! Here are the final products:

Again, this was a blast and an honor. I had so much fun with it and I personally love the way it turned out! Allison is truly awesome and such a great person to know and work with. If you'd like a glimpse into the worlds she builds, check out her website,, where you can find synopses of her books, her blog, and links to purchase each of her published works. You can also follow her on facebook here. You won't regret it!

Thank you again for trusting me with your logo, Allison!