Designing a Logo for Macquarie University’s Literature Podcast
One of my favourite things is when my artistic and academic worlds collide, and I get to delight in my passions for drawing, books, photography and academia all at once! This year I was excited to be asked to design a logo and photographic material for ‘From the Lighthouse’, a new literature podcast from the Department of English at Macquarie University in Sydney (where I also teach). Of course, I jumped at the chance, and so between classes I soon found myself with my sketchbook and a hot chocolate in one of the University cafes to discuss ideas with podcast host Dr Stephanie Russo, and podcast technician and website wizard Dr Jimmy Van.
The name ‘From the Lighthouse’ marries a reference to the lighthouse in Macquarie University’s original logo as well as a pun on a classic piece of literature (Virginia Woolf’s novel To the Lighthouse), so some combination of books and a lighthouse clearly needed to make their way into the logo, and soon enough, a lighthouse made from a leaning tower of books appeared under the scratchings of my pencil, casting its beams of literary insight out into the surrounding darkness. As a nod to the podcast format, the tower’s crown was a vintage microphone, and since this would be a podcast about all things literature, I thought a pen and ink style would be a nice link with classic Victorian book illustrations. So one rainy day, armed with my pens, ink pot, and multiple cups of tea and chocolate cake, I set to work.
The illustration was worked up with layers and layers of lines and cross-hatchings to create a vintage illustrated feel. When drawing the book titles, I borrowed from the classics, to keep with the look and feel of the old volumes: a large tome of Shakespeare, some Dickens and Austen, and I couldn’t resist sneaking in a couple of my favourites, including The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. If you look closely, as a surreptitious signature of the artist, you’ll see my initials hidden in the spine of Folio IV.
Once the hand-drawn illustration was complete, I transferred the artwork to digital format to add in a pop of colour and text for the podcast title. The use of black and white with one contrasting colour not only allows the logo to stand out more across the various apps, sizes and formats that it would appear in, but also links the image with vintage posters and paperbacks. This combination of classic and retro books, literature and writing was something I also tried to capture in my photography. For this, I took all sorts of things from my collections of books, objects and treasures, including some gorgeous old Penguin editions inherited from my Grandparents’ library, and one of my most special – an early edition of Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater – and photographed them laid out upon my Grandmother’s gorgeous old oak table. Here are the finished pieces of both:
And here they are in action on the podcast website!…
Check out the ‘From the Lighthouse’ podcast at:
(You can also listen to me with my academic hat on in some of the episodes discussing things like Harry Potter and Fantasy Literature, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer!)