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Here's the inside scoop on Intelligent.ly classes

Posted by Alex Pearlman  June 2, 2012 02:27 PM

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intelligent.ly2.jpgThis is the second part of a series on Intelligent.ly. Read the first part here.

By Marissa Lowman

I arrived at my first Intelligent.ly class on logo design about 10 minutes early. When I got out of the elevator, there were several people there to greet me, and one led me past an array of desks to an open space where classes are held.

Intelligent.ly is housed in the 500 Harrison Avenue building, a start-up haven in the South End, with funky art hanging on the walls and desks crammed into every corner. Other companies that occupy the space include BzzAgent, ProctorCam, Smarterer, and Help Scout.

While I waited for other students to arrive, I was encouraged to munch on some snacks I hadn’t seen in awhile: Capri Sun and Fruit By The Foot, as well as the more mundane, but no less appreciated soda and popcorn.

Everyone, from the interns to the teacher, was friendly, and I felt welcomed and much less intimidated since, although I appreciate good design, I’ve never created a logo myself.

Since most Intelligent.ly classes are kept small to allow students to interact with the teacher, I ended up meeting most of the students by the end of the night. My classmates varied widely in both profession and experience. There were college students, start-up founders and employees, professional designers, and some who were just interested in the topic. One woman wanted to design a logo for a personal blog she was starting, while another woman was a former attorney turned entrepreneur who wanted to learn about logo design for her business.

Aaron Belyea, owner and art director at Alphabet Arm, began the class by recounting a brief history of how he founded his company. The classroom was set up lecture style, with rows of long tables and a screen at the front to display PowerPoint presentations. Although Belyea began the class with a series of slides, it ended up being largely discussion-based.

Belyea talked about what a logo is, and we looked at some examples. Belyea said that “a logo is almost like a handshake,” which really helped me visualize its importance. We did a couple exercises about logos and watched a hilarious video of a 5-year-old’s reactions to a rapid succession of iconic logos. Apparently the McDonald’s “M” looks like French fries.

We then learned tips such as making sure to have a logo that looks good both online and in print, as well as when to outsource logo design (pretty much always). I would have liked to have tried designing my own logo, but perhaps that belongs better in a follow-up class (an hour and a half is not much time to do hands-on learning.)

The biggest takeaway from the Intelligent.ly class was how to go about finding a good design firm. We learned everything from what design firms typically charge for their services to how long the process generally takes.

Alessandro Bellino, founder of The Coffee Trike, a Boston start-up that will serve espresso via a tricycle, was in attendance as well and asked for advice on his logo. Belyea led an open discussion of the merits and drawbacks of the current logo and how it could be improved.

After the class, a wine and beer networking session commenced, which allowed students to meet and interact with one another, and unwind and talk to people with a common interest, although I think it might have been more productive to have this part before the class so that people could get to know each other first.

I left the class with new friends, a new appreciation for design, and the knowledge that I probably won’t be designing my own logo anytime soon – but at least I’ll know who to call.

Classes generally cost $30. To view upcoming classes/register, visit Intelligent.ly’s website.

About Marissa -- Marissa is the founder of EdTechup, an organization that brings together education technology entrepreneurs and educators. Her writing has appeared in Time Out Boston and BostInnovation, among other publications.

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