Two weeks ago we ran a post asking you what your favorite piece of signage in town was. We gave you a scant few choices and after whining about places we left out, about a third of you ended up voting for Denton’s newish breakfast spot, Loco Cafe (read our review here). You can view the results of our poll below:
We can surmise a couple of things from this vote. The primary thing being that Denton must now favor understatement. Sure, quite a few of you voted for Atomic Candy’s exciting rocket ship sign, but the majority of you favored Loco's simple sign, and our statistics say that those of you who did vote for the rocket ship were either children or people with adult onset ADHD. We could probably make the argument that Denton was once a town of bombast, however, we seem to have become quite a bit quieter since The Undoing of David Wright split up a few years ago. This brings us to the beautiful simplicity of Nicole Probst’s Loco Cafe sign. We had the chance to ask Probst a few questions about her design of the Loco Cafe logo and her views on design in general. Read on below...
Interview with Nicole Probst
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, how long have you lived in Denton, what do you do, etc...
I moved to Denton in 1994 to pursue a Dance Major at UNT, but did not graduate. I have worked for GreenHouse Restaurant since 1999 and am currently General Manager. My other favorite job in Denton was my second job at Rose Costumes for 2 years. It was there I met my husband and had the benefit of Judy Smith’s [the owner of Rose Costumes] confidence in my design abilities as well as Ken Currin’s support, which allowed me to go back to school. I traded my second job for classes at UNT as a Communication Design Major and graduated in 2010 receiving a BFA in Communication Design with a focus in Art Direction/Copywriting and a minor in Dance. I’ve been married to Nathan Probst for 5 years and we are expecting our first child in October.
What influenced you during the creation of the Loco Cafe logo?
The owner of GreenHouse Restaurant and Loco Cafe, Ken Currin, is always a big influence. When we work on projects like this he becomes the client I’m designing for so having him stand behind the design is the number one goal. It’s like the relationship between Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce and Heinz. Classic diner and shop signs of the 50’s and a Bass Beer Tap handle influenced the shape of the sign itself. We were talking about round signs one day and I walked by the Bass Beer tap handle and there was a perfect example of the style of round sign we were looking for. The typeface for Loco and 603 is American Typewriter and was integrated to pay homage to Ken’s roots as a UNT Journalism major and lover of literature and reading.
How does the Loco Cafe logo represent the actual cafe, itself?
“Loco” represents our location on the corner of LOcust and COgress. The round shape is influenced by our friendly, neighborhood atmosphere and a dot on a map. 603 is our address and if there ever happens to be more than one Loco Cafe the 603 will change to the street number of that location.
Working on the Loco Cafe logotype was a new experience for me because we were in the process of creating the concept of Loco Cafe as we were working on the logotype. Usually the brand/concept of the business is established and there are a lot of available resources to inspire the logotype itself. A designer writes a creative brief for the design based on established information about the company and in this case the creative brief for the design was part of the influence we used to establish the brand of the company.
Have you designed any other things that we might see daily in Denton?
Inside Loco Cafe I designed all the menus, even the big one on the wall, as well as labels on tea and coffee urns. I also designed the map graphic you see on the Loco windows, t-shirts and mug. I redesigned the logoype for GreenHouse Restaurant in addition to creating a simplified logo, as well as the menu. I also designed websites for both Loco and GreenHouse.
How would you describe your personal design aesthetic?
In my degree you take both Graphic Design and Advertising Art Direction classes. Before your senior year you choose a focus and the obvious choice for me was Art Direction and Copywriting because Graphic Design was not my strong point. Therefore, I like clean and simple logos with a smart use of type, that way I’m not trying to draw anything. I’m not much of an artist.
What makes a good logo or visual brand in your opinion?
For small businesses, I feel that a logotype, a visual representation of your business that includes the name of the business, is the way to go. This gives the business a chance to get both a visual cue of their concept as well as getting their name out there. I think presenting the name of the business and then providing a complicated graphic logo alongside it is not as successful. Then when it comes time to print a business card, invoice or other collateral you’re left with a design that is only successful in a large format and in multiple colors. Simple and smart logos can translate to any size and make an impact in even one to two colors.
I prefer a smart logo that with one glance tells you what that business is all about or a logo with clean type that is organized and therefore easy to read. Though the Loco Cafe logotype doesn’t scream “biscuits” at you, the feel of the logotype provides a sense of location and friendly atmosphere.
What’s your favorite font?
My favorites are versatile and have enough variations to complete a project with one typeface. I use Akzidenz Grotesk, Horley Old Style and PMN Cecelia a lot.
What’s your least favorite font?
Comic Sans, Curlz and Papyrus
What other signs (or design-related things) that we may have seen have you designed?
After winning Iron Bartender Denton in 2007, GreenHouse Restaurant hosted the next year and I created the logo, poster and t-shirt for that event. I have also designed wedding logos for couples to use in invitations, programs and other reception paraphernalia. Before I went to school for Communication Design I designed my first logo for Big Baby Boutique when they moved to their 288 location. My work can also be seen in Minnesota on the storefront of Forget Me Not Flower Farm.
What’s your favorite piece of signage in town? Why?
I think many of the local businesses on the square have successful signage that represent Denton well, like Atomic Candy, Mad Records, Denton Square Donuts and The Ghost Note. I’m happy to say that GreenHouse Restaurant and Loco Cafe bring that trend just a couple blocks North. I believe The Ghost Note has the best logotype because it’s simplicity lets you know immediately the business relates to drums.
Below you can view a few more examples of work Nicole has completed that you might have seen around town.