19 June 2017

Don't Patreon-ize Me (totes not begging)

Thank you for your Patreon-age.
Patreon made a big change to their platform, and it's getting a less-than favorable reaction. Their menu for both their desktop site and mobile app looks chunkier and geometrically harsher. Most notably, though, is their logo, which one Twitter user felt made it unrecognizable when compared to the original. 



I can understand his point of view, especially considering the logo looks less like a "P" and more like a lower-case "r". If I didn't know any better, I would have thought it was a new logo for ReasonTV. Then again, even before the rebranding, the Patreon logo tended to have trouble standing out, blending right in with the Google+ tile or even Blogger's icon. They're both reddish-orange squares with white lines in them. There would be times when I would click on a social link for what I thought was Patreon and found it to be a Blogger page. 

Besides, let's face it, more people have heard of Patreon than Reason (and I say that as a fan of ReasonTV). 

As for the new logo, it's certainly striking. White backgrounds tend to be a bit of a no-no in logos unless the line-work is strong (read: dark) so it can be used as a watermark or stamped onto simple stationary. Despite that, I like how the logo looks a little like crate paper with its muted, seemingly-translucent color scheme, especially that muted red-orange dot. It may not quite pop from the white the way a deeper red would (i.e., Japan's flag), but it's not lost in the great pale sea, either. The washed-out navy blue of the P's back also helps ground the whole design and helps center your eyes. Also, the more I look at it, the less I see that lower-case "r" and the more I see a stylized "P". That's the odd thing about rebranding; you can get used to almost anything. 
Many graphic designers will tell you about brand images that simply shouldn't work; Google, eBay, Yahoo, Apple's old rainbow logo, and MTV to name a few, yet with a handful of exceptions, they persist and endure. They don't necessarily rewrite any typography or design rules, but they earn their place and show that sometimes breaking the rules is how you stand out and get an edge (the iconoclast). DeviantART decided to forego having its initials in its icon and instead went a more abstract route, like if Matisse made traffic signs. It caused a stir, but down the road, it's as if it never happened, and I certainly haven't heard of anyone missing the "DA" hemisphere of old. ---Actually, I just now had the logo explained to me as the "mid-section" of a "d" sidling up to an "A" and now I feel a bit silly. 

Then again, let's face it, Seattle's Best Coffee still looks like it's advertising a blood drive, and SyFy is as stupid a name now as it was when it was announced, I don't care how good The Expanse is supposed to be. 

The point is that for all the testing and research and time invested into creating a new identity for a corporate entity, no one can afford a sharp turn or backpedal to begin with, and there is truly no good way of discerning how well a new logo will go over with audiences. People generally don't like change, and while some criticisms are more valid than others, events reveal that people can get used to an idea they were once opposed to. In the end, most of us likely weren't involved in the decision and it's not going to affect how we spend our money, so we'll either get on with our lives and carry on or we'll decide this new direction, however superficial, isn't worth our business.

Speaking of money and business....

I've debated setting up a creator's Patreon for myself. I once talked at great length about why I don't take commissions, and while I'm not motivated by money in my artwork (no artist is, it's just enthusiasm can't pay bills), I am grateful that people out there enjoy and appreciate what I do. As such, it's only fair that I offer people as many means of "supporting the cause" as possible, whether that's the share buttons on my journal pages or my DevaintART gallery or my Thingiverse profile, to more, er, direct means such as the Ko-Fi links both here and on my Twitter, the "tip designer" button on Thingiverse, my Paypal links I scatter in a few different places, and my Amazon wishlist (located in the sidebar). I've gotten a few tips here and there, and I even get asked about commissions (I'm not above making exceptions, especially to "support a cause" as it were). I've also gotten comments and other feedback such as dis/likes, up/down votes, hearts, stars, clovers and blue moons, pots of gold and rainbows, and me red ba--sorry. I'm grateful for it all and never want anyone to be shy about what they have to say about what I say and do (provided the freedom goes both ways, that's only fair). 
Going back to Patreon, what I do doesn't quite lend itself to much of a consistent output, and I don't feel like comparing the time and effort spent writing a journal entry or movie review with a painting or a comic. Thirty movie reviews in a month versus 10 digital paintings in the same month is not a quantification I feel like justifying to an audience, and I don't think you should have to entertain that concept either. As much as I like the "set and forget" nature of Patreon, even a small reward tier would simply feel like too much of an onus for me to place on someone. Maybe if I ever get to working on a regular webcomic I can commit to or I start doing livestreaming of my painting (which may happen as soon as Inktober of this year), then I'll consider it. 

Until then, thank you for visiting my page. 
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