posted on:January 21, 2009

Interview With Logo Designer Luka Pensa

Among other new things on this site, CSSG is starting to publish interviews with talented people. First in the series is an interview with my fellow Croatian (you might say a neighbor), a brilliant logo designer Luka Pensa. Luka is an experienced designer who runs a small logo design studio.
Check it out, his portfolio is really impressive!

free icons created by Luka Pensa

Also, as a special treat Luka has been generous enough to give away free icon set made exclusively for CSSG readers! Yay! Read the interview, at the bottom of the page you’ll find Luka’s icon set.

Hi Luka, nice to have you here at Css Globe. For a start, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi Alen, thank you for inviting me. I’m nearly 29, designer addicted to vector graphics, married to wife Gabriela and father of a 15-month old daughter Rahela.

Most of my waking hours are spent trying to balance design work, client communication and my family, of course. So, I can say that I’ve got pretty much busy days. In my free time (when I’m lucky to get some) I enjoy learning new stuff, reading a good book or enjoying nature and sea, as I live near the beach… talking about that, can’t wait for summer!

When did you first get involved in design and what are your influences?

Well, this is a hard one to answer. As, I didn’t keep a record on when I got into designing, but I could say that I’m addicted to drawing and illustrating things since I am aware of myself. I drew on walls when I was a young boy, on school tables, in my notebooks when I was supposed to do my homework, I did some graffiti when I thought that was cool… so, I guess that’s the way I got into design.

I have no formal design education or background, I am self taught. And when I say that, I mean that — in design, I had no one who provided me with tips or tricks or taught me something important… however, people that helped me are wonderful clients who wanted to work with me since I was a teenager and loved what I did. They gave me opportunity to shape myself up, get portfolio built and get my skills to a higher level. I’m still far from perfection, though, one learns as long as he lives.

My influences? Well, I don’t have some particular big-shot designer that I adore, but rather a list of rather unknown, non-famed, but very talented designers of a new age who are doing wonderful things from their home studios all around the world! They are definitely influencing my work, as I’m also sure my work influences other designers, at least judging by feedback I get from my site.

Luka Pensa's logo samples

What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?

As I mentioned earlier, I am addicted to vector graphics. I like logo/brand identity design. I also love designing icons. On contrary, I am not so fond of bitmap manipulation/design, using effects, designing websites, etc. However, I do enjoy designing elements for websites, icons for example.

For that reason I’ve prepared a small gift for readers of this interview — set of simplistic icons in various vector formats that can be recolored and adjusted to any website or other use readers find for them. I hope they’ll like them, it’s just a small set of 12 icons, but I’m planning on doing many more icons in the future!

To answer your question why I like doing mentioned is impossible, I just know I love that and that’s what I’m best in (I guess).

You have a huge and impressive logo portfolio on It must have taken ages to design all that. How long does it take for you to design a logo?

Thank you. Well, it took a while, I never count how long it takes for one logo to get completed, as I don’t charge on a hourly basis, but per project 🙂

Logo design is a process that many have underestimated and undervalued with their approach to ‘logo design’. What they do is an industry and art cannot be done that way. Giving a number of concepts with number of revisions within 48 hours… that’s just plain stupid. For that reason I’m ‘wasting time’ educating future clients what is the difference between my approach and those thousands of do-it-quick logo shops that you can find on Google.

I’m a designer, I’ve been focused on logo design for almost 6 years now and talking from my experience — there are projects for which I get brilliant idea instantly, like some kind of enlightenment and client adores that logo, while sometimes it takes days of thinking, sketching, visualizing, researching… However, I’m proud that over 95% of my clients ‘fell in love’ with the first concept I’ve shown them.

Of course, in most cases it wasn’t the first concept I came up with, but I avoid showing off number of concepts at once, as client is paying me as a designer to see what’s the best for his business/product identity. My task is to deliver quality, recognizable and unique logo that conveys the message, not to confuse client and say ‘hey, here are your 10 concepts, now pick one’ — imagine if you came to a (not computer) hardware shop and said you need a nail and shopkeeper told you ‘here we have 100 different nail types, choose the one you like and get back to me’. Trust me, even if you picked 10 types, you’d come home with the ones you don’t need.

Luka Pensa's icon samples

What is your typical design process when designing a logo for a new client?

Well, I think that answer to previous question gave a lot of information about that process already. But, let’s repeat it, briefly:

  • educate new client what logo really is (if one doesn’t know that already);
  • get client’s feedback/information on what the logo is for, targeted audience, company/product profile, ideas, likes and dislikes (the usual stuff);
  • research, sketch, design;
  • show off to the client;
  • rinse, repeat as necessary;
  • that’s it.

Basically, there are two types of clients: those who know why they need the logo and those who don’t. In most cases, I invest a lot of time trying to educate my clients, as I said, but, unfortunately, sometimes I fail to do so, as they think logo is something that’s not really important and they’d rather get it quick and cheap, even designed by their nephew who is 10 than to wait for a good one to be created. As, creativity cannot be pushed and sometimes it takes up to a month to get ‘the one’ done.

Where do you find your inspiration and how do you deal with creative blocks?

Well, inspiration comes from different sources. Basically, everything is inspirational, in a way. Everything I see, everything I experience — that influences my inspiration. Sometimes, a simple butterfly can be inspiration, sometimes a memory of something I saw, sometimes it’s simply that some other logo rings the bell and I create something completely different, but inspiration is coming from that other logo.. most logo designers wouldn’t admit that publicly, but it’s normal that a beautiful artwork piece can inspire you to create something that’s completely different, yet if you didn’t see that, you wouldn’t get to your design.

When I have a creative block, which happens from time to time (especially when weather is moody), I try to force myself to move away from computer. Otherwise, I just frustrate myself and cause creative block to stay here for a much longer… Moving away, doing something else, be it playing with the kid, listening to some music, relaxing, taking a walk or going for a drive, anything that’s change of environment or pattern I got into makes brain to function the other way and that removes creative block quickly.

I don’t like work under pressure, that’s why I dislike clients who want something within 48 hours. Because of Logoworxxx and similar ‘design companies’, people think designing a logo is something like buying chicken nuggets in McDonald’s — quick, simple and cheap. But, it’s not.

What design tools do you use and can to explain your choice?

The tool I simply adore is… no, it’s not Adobe Illustrator as most would guess. It’s Xara Xtreme Pro. Previously known as Xara X, CorelXara, depends how far to the past you go… I started using it when it was CorelXara (I think 1996 or so) and I simply adore that application. Some will say I’m saying a blasphemy, but trust me — Xara’s application is quicker and better than Adobe Illustrator, in 99% of the features most logo/icon designers like me need.

Unfortunately, it’s not available on MacOS platform and I think that’s why ‘real designers’ will say it’s no good. But, I’m PC addict and even though I tried switching to Mac, I couldn’t do it.

So, that’s my most important software tool. My hardware tools are my Toshiba Qosmio (I’m addicted to laptops) with Logitech diNovo Edge Bluetooth keyboard and a good ol’ Microsoft IntelliMouse Optical. I tried using other mice, as well as other tools, like tablets, but I can’t use it. Also, I don’t scan and hand-trace my sketches on paper, in fact, in most of the cases I directly go to screen design. Weird practice as most would say, but it works best for me.

Luka Pensa's logo sample

What are your favorite online design resources?

My favorite design resources are actually logo/identity showcase books. Simply because I can take them with me wherever I want and browse through wonderful collections of logos, without need to be in front of computer.

However, I do have some favorite online design resources and there are quite few of them. I’ll mention just few that come to my mind: Logopond, CSS Globe, CSS Mania, 38one blog,… even — it gives me a good laugh sometimes, not design works, as I rarely laugh to someone’s attempts (that person is at least trying), but what makes me laugh is when someone expects to get an identity for less than a pair of worn shoes. I’d rather ask someone to do it pro-bono than offer such low amounts, exploiting decent people in poor countries trying to live their life. I hate exploiters of any kind!

What are your plans for the near future and how do you see yourself in 10 years form now?

Well, I’ve gone a bit eccentric with my plans. I’ve been through lots of things in my life and I can tell that my life perspective has changed a lot in recent years, especially since our baby was born.

I’ve got some plans and I’ve got a 3-minute survey that I’m running, that’ll help me understand what people think about some of my ideas, as I’m about to redevelop my website. Anyone can participate and I’ll random pick two persons who will get an iPod Shuffle as a sign of gratitude for their opinion and time.

Talking about 10 years from now — that’s a hard one, as I’m trying to liv3e day by day… ok, with some plans for the ‘near’ future, but less than 6 years ago, when I became a freelancer, I saw myself in completely different way than it turned out in the end. So, why make such plans, while the beauty of life actually lies in the fact of uncertainity?

Do you have any advice for the rookie logo designer?

Two things. First: if you love it, be persistent, don’t give up on your dreams! Market is hard, but if you’re good, you’ll succeed, just don’t take it too personal when client does not like your masterpiece. In most cases, he’s wrong.

Second: life is a lesson. You’ll learn something, every day. Be open minded and don’t get stuck in the mind-clutter. Make changes, often. If you get into some kind of ‘loop’, you’ll hardly get out of it. Don’t chase money, chase creativity — enough money will come along if you do what you’re best in.

At the end, I would like to thank everyone who had a patience to read such a long interview. If you would like to get in touch with me for any reason, be it design task or advice, feel free to contact me anytime!

Download exclusive icon set made by Luka Pensa

free icons created by Luka Pensa

Exclusive vector icons that Luka created especially for Css Globe cons are available in AI, EPS, PDF, XAR file formats.

Download exclusive free icons

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Comments (18 Comments)

  1. Chris Wallace
    January 21, 2009

    I've always tried to keep my logo designs simple. It's worked out pretty well so far I suppose :)
  2. E.J. Semeijn
    January 21, 2009

    Any limitations on usage of icons?
  3. cssglobe
    January 21, 2009

    Icons are free for use on both personal and commercial projects.
  4. kiko
    January 21, 2009

    Luka has really impressive portfolio...
  5. Josip
    January 22, 2009

    I'm guessing he will look at the comments at least once so just one plea: update the portfolio more frequently, please :) I believe there is quite a few people just checking every now and then to see some new logos, just to be disappointed time and time again :)
  6. Luka (interviewed logo designer)
    January 22, 2009

    Hi all. Thanks for your comments. To answer Josip's plea: site is pending a major update and I promise to update portfolio more frequently. I've got like 50+ logos waiting in queue (or so, didn't even count them) to be added to portfolio... My apologies for everyone, especially my loyal audience who visits site now and then to see more works, I promise delays won't happen in the future :)
  7. Dainis Graveris
    January 23, 2009

    Very impressive portfolio - everyone would be proud of. Wow, Luka - it's huge, and very good indicator - people love the first logo concept You show! Thanks for interview! :)
  8. Kevin
    January 23, 2009

    Very nice portfolio and all the best to you Luka. You have a very interesting approach to graphic design.
  9. projectautomatika
    January 23, 2009

    Very inspiring interview and the great design in your portfolio!
  10. Atak Teknoloji
    January 24, 2009

    very nice collection. thanks
  11. Jeff Fisher LogoMotives
    January 25, 2009

    Great interview! I always enjoy seeing Luka's work.
  12. JustCreativeDesign
    February 24, 2009

    Interesting to note about your software choice however I really did enjoy this interview, keep up the good work Luka. Also, please check out for some inspiration & logo design discussion, you may even learn a thing or two! :)
  13. solexy
    April 14, 2009

    thx, good info
  14. go guff
    May 1, 2009

    Thanks Luka for informatics interview from your precious time. I heard your name from friends but never see your work. After reading your interview and checking your work, I think I make a mistake not to follow your designs and information. Know I start searching for your more resources over the internet and regularly visiting the blog for more information and inspirational designs.
  15. xaer8
    May 4, 2009

    I've always wanted to be a great designer like Luke. Even better perhaps. Anyway, thanks for this inspirational interview. Really thoughtful.
  16. Maxim
    May 20, 2009

    Thank you for the job! Be sure to come
  17. Sasan
    June 8, 2009

    WoW!!! Just WoW ...
  18. Leon Dudovich
    June 12, 2009

    Nice icons, also very interesting and cool blog. I want to ask you like a designer ask designer, what you think about my icons here ?

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