The evolution of a logo

May 11, 2023

Hello fiends

Ugh, branding, am I right? It’s a term that makes my teeth itch. It makes my skin crawl. As my mate Dan Moth might say, it makes my back open and close. I really hate that we live in a world that requires things like branding, but it’s unavoidable. It’s necessary for products and, sadly, it’s becoming ever more necessary for creative people.

First and foremost, for me as an author, my brand needs to be my work and my personality. That’s true for all writers, and it remains true whether you want it to be or not. I would hope that my voice is well-established enough by now so the kind of thing I write speaks mostly for itself. As a person, when it comes to online and public appearances, I’m as genuine as I can be. What you get is the real me, no artifice, no gimmicks. You don’t get all of me – there’s stuff I keep private and will always protect – but what you do get of me is genuine. I’m irreverent, passionate, I refuse to stand by and witness injustice if I can ever do anything about it, and I will speak my mind and stand up for things over “protecting my career” every time. That’s just who I am.

Hopefully, my openness and honesty is evident and people can like me for who I am. Or not. I love this meme:

It makes me laugh every time. I’m laughing now. I’m happy with who I am, so fuck anyone who has a problem with that. I don’t need ’em. It’s a liberating realisation to reach. Be kind, be honest, and fuck the haters.

Anyway, I’m getting way off-topic here. The point is, as an author I need a brand, and 99% of that brand is me and my work. It’s largely all I need and hopefully it will continue to grow my readership. But when it comes to having a web presence, and when it comes to public appearances, having a recognisable vibe is also important.

So that brings me back to the logo you saw at the top of this post. I talked before about why I’m called the 13th Dragon and why that dragon head logo appears on my independently published stuff. The logo above is separate to that. It’s an identifier of me the author.

You’ll see the logo on my website, on my newsletters, and so on. It’s comprises a few key elements that encapsulate my vibe and I thought I’d break down that design for you.

Firstly, it’s circular as that makes it a useful shape that fits pretty much anywhere. The scruffy circle represents an ink stamp. Within the circle is an octagon. That represents a few things. For me, 8 is a powerful number. There’s the bagua, or eight directions, principle of martial arts training – that’s an entire article in itself, but it includes physical and esoteric directions. There’s the idea of the eight directions of chaos. There are eight primary cardinal directions of travel on the compass, and all writing (and reading) is a journey.

Within the octagon is an eye, because I’m fascinated by what we see, both externally and internally. Perception of all kinds is a thing I find endlessly enthralling. The pupil of the eye is the lighthouse design you might first have seen as the section break image in my books The Gulp and The Fall. Those stories are set in the harbour town of Gulpepper, which has a lighthouse that’s fairly central to its identity. And the idea of a lighthouse, a beacon in the darkness, both a guide and a warning, is powerful iconography to me.

And lastly, the Latin – inventa in tenebris – means ‘found in the dark’ or ‘discovered in darkness’. That’s a reference to my writing and you can take it however it works for you. Do you discover things in the darkness? Are you found in the darkness? I feel that an exploration of the darkness both inside and outside ourselves reveals more about us than perhaps anything else. It’s easy to put on an act in the light – you’re more likely to reveal your true self in the dark.

So there you have it. Those are the things I used to build my logo. I hope you like it.

If you ever buy a signed book directly from me via my website or at a convention or signing, you’ll get a sticker with the logo on it, and it’s also on my book plates if you’re overseas and want to buy a signed book plate to stick in copies you’ve bought locally. I’m also waiting on a rubber stamp with a slightly simplified version of the logo, and then all signed books bought from me personally will have a stamp in them too. You can get the logo on a mug in my merch store. If you want the logo on a t-shirt, that’s available too, but exclusively to my patrons over at Patreon. But of course, you don’t need the logo really – it’s mainly there to identify me.

My books plates and stickers:

All right, enough about that. So what else is new? For the handful of masochists who are still reading, there’s a couple of things you might be interested to know. A brilliant academic by the name of Lucas Mattila recently wrote a whole paper on my gonzo novella, The Roo, called Violent Vibes: ‘Stimmung’ in Alan Baxter’s The Roo. Stimmung is a term often translated as “mood”, but it’s better explained in the article itself.

I have the honour of being the director of this year’s Speculative Fiction Festival at WritingNSW in Sydney, and they’ve just released the full list of guests and programming. I had a great time putting it together and if you’re anywhere near Sydney in June, or can get there, it’ll be well worth your time. All the details about that are here.

I’ve been serialising a new novella called The Leaves Forget on Patreon and you can still read it there (and at Substack if you’re a paid subscriber, but remember, my newsletter and almost everything else at Substack will always be free).

What I’ve Been Enjoying

I haven’t been watching much in the way of TV or movies lately, but I did just watch the first episode of a Japanese thriller series on Netflix called Alice in Borderland. That was a wild ride and I’ll definitely be watching more.

As for reading, I recently loved the new novel from Ashley Kalagian-Blunt called Dark Mode. And I’m currently reading Daphne by Josh Malerman. I’ve long been a big fan of Malerman’s work and this one is shaping up to be my favourite so far. You’ll also probably remember that I’m working my way through John Connolly’s Charlie Parker thrillers and I just read book 9, The Whisperers. That has instantly become my favourite of the series so far.

Right, I think that’s all from me for now, I’ve blathered on long enough. If you’re around the new social platform, Bluesky, you can find me there now at The place has a wild, chaotic vibe like early Twitter at the moment, so I have high hopes for it. Especially as Twitter is crumbling ever more into a shitpile of bigots and fascists.

Boom shanka, my good fiends. Be kind, be well, keep in touch.


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