Designing a Logo for Old Crow Magazine

Hi! I’m a visual artist and designer, and worked with Tom on the design of Old Crow Magazine. We started by designing a logo, and from there developed a visual identity for the magazine, as well as the website you’re looking at right now. I thought it would be fun to post some of the sketches and drafts that came out of that process.

Old Crow Sketches 1

I always start a project by sketching on paper, which allows a spontaneity that you can’t always get on a computer. I went through a couple of pages of earlier ideas (some of them partially developed below) before coming up with the feather concept. After I had worked out the basic shape and colours, I moved to Adobe Illustrator to start sketching out the logo digitally.

Old Crow Drafts 1

The feather shape is meant to suggest the “crow” theme, as well as a writing quill. The logo can also be read as a Gros Morne landscape: a lone windswept tree, red Tablelands and rolling hills, all reflected in rhythmic water. I wanted a symbol that would suggest finding a whole new world in unexpected places, the lightness of travel and exploration, and quiet reflection. I also tried to use bright, bold colours and rhythmic shapes, trying to represent the park graphically in way that I hadn’t seen done before.

Even after coming up with the feather concept, there were quite a lot of details to figure out – slight variations to the curves and colours can have very different connotations. I tried drawing the feather shape curving upwards, with fewer segments, and even split down the middle. The logo also had to work in black and white, and on a dark background.

Old Crow Drafts 2

The look and placement of the words “Old Crow” was another consideration. I chose a typeface that echoed the curves in the logo, then modified it a little, trying to strike a sophisticated tone while remaining playful and off-kilter in a subtle way.

From here, I graphically adapted the qualities suggested by the feather landscape to build a larger visual identity for the magazine. We wanted the magazine to have qualities like lightness (putting the focus on the content, not the interface, and making it easy to engage), exploration (using bold, contemporary type and colour), transparency (subtle gradients that add verve and visual unity), and magic (something a little unexpected that draws you in, like Gros Morne’s otherworldly, unforgettable landscapes). Here’s one page from the visual identity guide for Old Crow:


Our goal was to create a bright, responsive website to tell stories of Gros Morne in an engaging way, showcasing photos, video and writing about the park. I’m really happy with what we came up with, and it’s been really fun to watch Old Crow Magazine evolve and grow since we launched the site in July.

Old Crow Sketches 2

Here’s the final logo design. Thanks for reading! You can see more of what I do on my website.

Old Crow Logo Final

Matthew Hollett

Matthew Hollett is a visual artist and web designer in St. John's.