Who Needs an Art Director When You Have a Veterinarian?

Initially, I thought this might be “just another logo job,” but it morphed into something very different.

The process of designing a logo for this veterinary hospital was much the same as developing characters for a children’s picture book.

Dr. Amy Tongue, owner of the Oswego Veterinary Hospital, asked me to design a new clinic logo using a humorous dog and cat as the focus. Working with Amy was a lot like working with a children’s publishing art director or editor.

In the course of developing characters for her logo, we needed to address questions such as: What are their personalities? What is their relationship? What style works best?

This blog shows the progression under Amy’s art direction from quick sketches to more polished final illustration. The parallels between working on the new brand identity for the vet clinic, and developing characters for a children’s picture book are obvious.

The original concept was a dog jumping over a cat. Instead of thinking in terms of graphic design, I fell back on what I know best – character development and storytelling for a children’s book.

What’s the story between the dog and cat? What does the image say about their personalities and the relationship they have to each other?

To get things rolling, I just started doodling.


send amy first page of sketches



I used a dog jumping over the cat as the central element, and a springboard to work on a variety of styles.


send amy various sketches of jumping

Tried some made to look  as if a child had drawn them. 


send amy kid's drawings

I like this technique. It sort of resembles a wood block print.

send amy wood cut

I drew some simple critters that could fill out the logo if needed.

send amy critters

I started a series of drawings based on a cat and dog relationship like that of of two buddies. This turned out to be a mistake. I had a lot to learn about cat and dog dynamics – or rather cat-owner and dog-owner dynamics.


send 1 2 3 4 5 6


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send 13 14 15 16


send 17 18

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send 22 23 24 25 26


Amy reviewed the preliminary sketches. She liked the image of the dog jumping over the cat, but had this to say:

Regarding the action of dog jumping over cat – I think it might be a turn-off to cat people. We have found that many cat owners are very sensitive to the dog versus cat leaning of vet hospitals.  

However, I do not think dog-owners give a second thought to whether we care more about cats than dogs or vice versa (of course we love them all).  So how about we make the cat the more active/charismatic/dominant.

Interesting . . . so some cat-owners feel dissed  –  that vets like dogs better than cats.

Taking this feedback into consideration, I played around with a more passive dog and a more active cat.

send standing dog


send jumping cat


The process continues. Amy chooses samples she likes, and makes small changes.

Since this is a logo, the line quality needs to be heavier and have more visual weight, so the image works well on stationary, websites, and printed collateral material.


Standing dog 2 with jumping cat


I experiment with a more graphic, hard-edged style . . .


send sept 18



. . . but end up with something in-between.


blog final Oswego 2




A bit of color that will change with the ads and promotional material – and there you have it. Simple, graphic, and – most importantly, fun!

Amy’s pleased. As for me, in the process I not only found a solution for the brand identity of the Oswego Veterinary Hospital, but also discovered some new characters I plan to develop for my next story as an children’s book author/illustrator.

Win/win, for sure.


final blog logo


4 Responses to “Who Needs an Art Director When You Have a Veterinarian?”

  1. Karl,

    Gotta love the process — and of course the swell results!

  2. Wendelin says:

    II love seeing your process. It’s like you’re thinking out loud, but with pictures. Incredible!

  3. Karl, it’s great to see your work again and to see your process. We may be calling on you to freshen up some of our images for SuperGravy and the OSV line. Hope you are well!

  4. Amy Tongue says:

    Thanks again for all your hard work Karl! It was a fun process to create the logo and get it incorporated into the day to day workings and material for the hospital.


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