Putting the Golden Ratio to Work – Logo Design for Sprout Children’s Business Expo

Sprout Children’s Business Expo is an opportunity for children to learn some basic business and entrepreneurial skills. A workshop was set up where participating kids could learn from some local business mentors, and a day for the expo, where children would table their products or services, was decided on.

When it came time to design the logo for this client, it presented some interesting but fun challenges. For one, it’s a children’s business event, which means the logo must ride the fine line between being kid-friendly yet still being professional.

We needed to avoid the pitfalls of pushing too hard into either one of those design styles. Choose the wrong font and you’ve automatically gone too childish (avoid Jokerman font at all costs!) but going to business-like will make it too staunchy for kids, or really for anyone.

The client requested the use of a fiddlehead fern image in some way. First, our designer took a pleasing picture of a fiddlehead fern and used a technique popularized by Pablo Picasso to abstract an image. Picasso famously abstracted a bull from a robust drawing to a simple outline in a series of 11 lithographs.

In essence, Picasso created a first lithograph of a very realistic drawing of a bull. He then makes the anatomy more vivid, then “carves” the anatomy into its basic “hunks.” In the later lithographs he continued simplifying and stylizing until the final lithograph was reduced to a simple outline, yet was still unmistakably bull-like.

Our designer, Mandy, approached the fern fiddle in a similar way, and she also used the Fibonacci sequence to create the curvature of the swirl.

The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical series of numbers where every number after the first two is the sum of the two preceding numbers. It’s also called the golden ratio and it appears in mathematics in unexpected ways as well as in nature in the arrangement of sunflower seeds in the flower center, artichoke flowers, pine cone bract arrangements, and the like.

The “golden ratio” is helpful in terms of creating curvatures that are mathematically pleasing and also helps in dissecting a shape into shade-able portions if you want to colorize a logo. Using the ratio is not necessary when creating curves, but it helps give them form and in breaking a creative process down to a scientific process where the curvatures are a quantity known to be pleasing.

Within a few steps, the original design is abstracted into a series of circles. This made it easier to tell where to add shading to keep the design pleasing. And added an extra layer of visual interest.

Circular logos are one particular area where mathematics, science and art all come together with a beautiful interplay! Working with a designer who understands the nuances of design and how it can be scientifically applied can mean you’ll get a logo that’s far better than what you might have dreamed up on your own. A good logo beings together instant awareness and be memorable. It should be reproducible and scalable, meaning it should look good on a billboard as well as on a business card. And it should look good in black and white, on a transparent background, or with color added.

With the logo for Sprout Children’s Business Expo, we believe we got all that! Here’s what the final design turned out to be. What do you think? Stay tuned for a future article about the font selection process.


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