Unless you've been under a rock, you've seen Todd Radom's work. It's either on a hat or jersey you own, you've seen one of his designs on television, in print or online media, or possibly on a product at the grocery store. And yet, you're asking, "Todd who?"
Todd Radom has designed logos ranging from the Washington Nationals to the latest incarnation of the LA of Anaheim Angels. He's created the logo for Fenway's 90th Anniversary, the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, as well as Super Bowl XXXVIII, the 100th Anniversary World Series logo from 2003, the logo for the 50th Anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier, and the World Baseball Classic.
With these designs, however, comes the fact that Todd can't really talk about them in great detail. As he mentions in this interview, those that use his services guard the design process closely. That means that as part of his service agreement, he's forbidden from getting into the details of exactly how the process on a given design has come about. Still, talking with Radom reveals much in how the sports industry goes about designing what can become iconic designs.
Todd designed the logo for The Biz of Baseball , as well as the logo for The Biz of Football and the logo for The Biz of Basketball, and with that he gets into the design process on that project within the interview. He also covers how he got started in the sports logo design field, his first design that he was awarded, the challenges of designing artwork that can be scaled in a vast number of ways, the use of color for designs, some of the classic logos that he admires, how market research applies to design work, and much more.
Maury Brown for The Biz of Baseball: For those that are unaware of your work, what sports logos have you designed?
Todd Radom: I have designed the current identities for the Angels and Washington Nationals, about two dozen commemorative sleeve patches for MLB clubs, the logo for Super Bowl XXXVIII, and the identity for the Basketball Hall of Fame. (Editors note: To see all of Todd's logo designs, go to Todd Radom.com)
BizBall: How did you first get involved in sports related art, and specifically, logo design ?
Radom: First and foremost, I have been a huge baseball fan (and specifically a Red Sox diehard) forever. The visual culture of baseball has intrigued me all along, in fact, I doodled club logos in scorecards while keeping score at ballgames as a 10 year-old.
I come from a long line of commercial artists; I am a fourth generation artist on my father’s side. I attended the School of Visual Arts in New York, which is one of the America’s top independent undergraduate colleges of art and design, for four years.
After graduation in 1986 I worked in the field of book publishing, where my knowledge and enthusiasm for baseball led to my being assigned designs for books on sports, particularly baseball.
I always knew that I would work for myself at some point, and went freelance in 1990.
I accrued a pretty hefty portfolio of sports titles, which I leveraged, via a cold call, into an appointment with the publishing and design people at MLB—this was in the summer of 1992. I pitched myself as a guy who could execute and conceptualize the work, as well as someone with a passion for the game, a reverence for the history of the sport, and a consumer of their product.
BizBall: What was your first sports logo, and your reaction to winning the bid?
Radom: The Knoxville Smokies, AA Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, in 1992. This was a dream come true to say the least. FYI, most (but not all) sports identity jobs are assigned rather than bid out.
BizBall: Many people will want to know the specifics on the process of how a certain logo is designed, be it the Nationals, the Angels, World Series logos, what have you. Can you explain why clients don’t allow for that discussion?
Radom: Ultimately I think that logos and ID packages are commodities, managed, implemented and wholly owned by the league that assigned it. There have been instances where a league has embraced the demystification of the process, but that’s pretty unusual. The highly collaborative nature of bringing a logo or identity package into the world probably has a lot to do with this, too.
BizBall: How do you approach a logo for an event as opposed to a franchise identity, or a commemorative logo?
Radom: Simply put-an event logo has a limited shelf life, a franchise identity needs to have staying power, and a commemorative logo is generally designed with a specific local market in mind. There’s certainly more to it, but this sums it up pretty well.
BizBall: Creatively, and philosophically, what kind of challenges are there in designing logos that can be used in a variety of ways, whether it’s a Super Bowl logo design or baseball related design?
Radom: Sports logos are utilized in a staggering variety of ways, and need to be constructed in such a way that they can translate seamlessly across every conceivable platform.
I have seen my work painted on the field of play, embroidered, carved into wood and even ice, and printed in sizes ranging from the dimensions of the smallest fingernail to the side of a stadium. In monotone and full color, on the web, and on television, you name it.
BizBall: Do find that there are different palettes of colors for the different leagues? Is there traditional color selections that baseball gravitates to?
Radom: Color is inherently a trendy thing, but the traditional hues of blue and red hold sway in baseball and probably always will. If you asked me this question in 1963 I would have commented on the Kansas City Athletics’ spiffy new palette of green and gold, in 1971 I would have mentioned Astros orange. The Marlins gave us teal in 1993.
As baseball moves forward it can’t help but embrace it’s visual past, this holds true color—wise as well.
BizBall: What historical sports logo designs do you admire?
Radom: I gravitate toward the traditional logos and uniforms of clubs such as the St. Louis Cardinals, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Montreal Canadiens and the like. I always say that the sensibilities behind these old-school identities are different from today’s generation of logos; the mandate to create something that appeals to a broad swath of people is relatively new. And I love Bill Veeck’s 1952 St. Louis Brownie.
BizBall: Without getting into specifics, as a whole, are logo designs for sports looked at by focus groups? Is market research applied to designs?
Radom: Good question—focus groups are often utilized, but not always. Market research is always employed, either passively or aggressively . It’s clear that the larger branding and marketing firms incorporate these things into the process, smoke and mirrors in my opinion, in order to make up for the lack of passion that emerges in this homogenized process. Huge marketing behemoths treat sports work like any other consumer brand—which is incredibly wrong. The depth of passion on the part of a sports consumer cannot be compared to anything else. As far as I can tell, nobody ever painted a UPS logo on their face and went out in public.
BizBall: Baseball has a long and rich history. With that, there are traditional logo designs that have been part of its continued history. Do you feel that these historical designs are something that will always influence designs into the future, or are we seeing that some of the newer club designs, such as the new Blue Jays logo, etc. will set a trend for the future?
Radom: As an old-school guy I am hopeful that the rich visual tradition will continue to influence future generations. Again, trends come and go, and evolution is inevitable.
BizBall: Lastly, you designed the logo for The Biz of Baseball. Since I’m not MLB, we can talk about this design in detail. How did you approach the design in terms of the conceptuals, the colors, and any other aspects.
Radom: A great project! Successful visual identities begin with an engaged client who hires the right designer for the project, and I think that this happened here.
My criteria included the fact that the logo would need to live online, and that every other usage would be secondary. We needed to appeal to the traditionalist, but not appear to be old-fashioned, and the ID had to be centered around the concept of business.
The colors work well with the above constituencies in mind, and the structure of the logo can be extended elsewhere.
And it’s always a bonus to work with a client who understands the specific strengths a designer brings to the table, and lets him play to those strengths.
- Interview conducted by Maury Brown on 10/25/06
To read other interviews on The Biz of Baseball with the likes of Jayson Stark, Ken Rosenthal, Stan Kasten, Marvin Miller, Bowie Kuhn, Bob Costas, and others, select the Interviews navigation element to the left on any page.
This interview is copyrighted. For republication information, please contact The Biz of Baseball.