Midwest Furfest Logo Design
Midwest Furry Fandom LLC runs what is now the world’s largest “furry” convention each year in early December. The convention attracts a wonderful assortment of talented artists, costumers, dancers, musicians, animators and more who are fans of anthropomorphic animals or other fantasy creatures.
Like many conventions, MFF chooses a theme each year which attendees can voluntarily design their art, costumes and other activities around. The 2017 theme was Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
I was a regular attendee of MFF during my time in Chicago, and it easily became my favorite convention. They reached out to me in September of 2017 to create some art that would be seen by their 8,000+ attendees. Being chosen as the artist to design the 2017 shirt, logo, and two print designs was an honor.
Note: The same research notes below apply to all four art pieces commissioned by Midwest Furry Fandom. Skip to details on the logo if you’re already read them.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales was a classic and enjoyable theme to create art around. Although well-known, I still wanted to do some research before getting started.
Reviewing Grimm’s Fairy Tales
I refreshed my memory on Grimm’s Fairy tales and was surprised to learn just how many they had written.
It’s well known that the tales are more gruesome than we were told as children. As much as darker themes intrigue me, I tried to keep in mind that due to the December timing of the convention, many fans regard it as “the Christmas con,” so my art would have to lean more mysterious than evil or spooky.
I narrowed my search for the most popular and well-known tales; While there are a lot of tales featuring animal characters, not everyone would be familiar with Grimm’s lesser-known stories. I wanted the logo to be instantly recognizable and something that can be enjoyed at the convention and after it.
Among the top-known tales, these stood out to me as appropriate for MFF:
- Little Red Riding Hood (as was already shown on the MFF site)
- Sleepy Beauty
- Snow White (and the Seven Dwarfs)
- Hansel and Gretel
- Puss in Boots
- Pied Piper
Making Grimm recognizable for MFF attendees
Having done my research and picked out the best tales for MFF, I noted down symbols or iconic creatures and things from these stories that I could incorporate into my art.
The Big Bad Wolf was of course the most iconic and perfect for an anthropormophic-themed convention, but this was already used in the website and other promotional materials.
Puss in Boots, made popular again by the recent Dreamworks franchise, would work very well.
Other symbols that MFF attendees were likely to recognize from Disney and other’s interpretations of Grimm’s Tales:
- Snow White’s poisoned apple
- Cinderella’s glass slipper
- Rapunzel’s long hair
- Rumpelstiltskin’s spindle, or gold thread and straw
- Hansel and Gretel’s candy house
Client’s parameters for the logo design
The logo design would be printed on a few simple items such as drinking mugs, and as such would need to be in a basic black & white format that would work as solid black or solid white ink on any background color.
The mascot of Midwest Furfest is a raccoon, and using this animal was mandatory for the logo design.
The logo needed to fit the Grimm’s Fairy Tale 2017 convention theme.
I offered to show MFF two thumbnails per each requested piece, and let them choose which concept they preferred.
I created a simple running raccoon drawing for the first concept. While not having to do with the 2017 theme, a more general drawing would allow for greater versatility in printing on lots of different products.
For the second concept, I played on the famous “Pied Piper” Grimm tale and drew a raccoon in a sort of prancing pose playing a flute.
The art director enjoyed the first concept, but as the second one worked better with the 2017 we decided to go with that.
I took a look at how the MFF logo has been used on other products sold at the convention in previous years to ensure that my design would work for them similarly. I had also been following various artists and drawing influence from their work, particularly in using negative space in logo design.
As less color work and text detail were involved in this piece, I worked through independently to completion. I created a vector-style design for crisp lines and shapes that would print smoothly at any scale, and ensured the contrasting details were strong enough to make out the flute and arms.
The art director requested I add the MFF letters to the logo as well. I found a royalty-free font that was bold enough to be readable at any scale but also had a slight texture to it to lend to the parchment used in much of MFF’s other Grimm-themed branding. I curved the letters over the tail to balance both sides of the image.
The client was happy with the final logo design, which looked particularly well on their camping mug product.