Hello, my name is Seb Lester and I feel like I’m living in some strange parallel universe at the moment. I have an 11th century Norman castle in my back garden and 190,000 people watch me do calligraphy on social media sites. I have also just designed a logo for a NASA space mission. It is all pretty surreal.
Earlier this year I was contacted by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. They asked me to design a logo for the Surface Water & Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission. The logo will be used on the launch vehicle (I would have called it a space rocket before I got this job), mission patches, the SWOT website, for presentations, and merchandise.
I’ve been fortunate enough to work for some of the biggest companies in the world, but this is a serious highlight. I’m a huge fan of NASA. I find much of the work they do awe-inspiring. So it is a real honour to be involved in a project like this, especially given the nature of the mission in question. This mission focuses on a better understanding of the world’s oceans and its terrestrial surface waters and the benefits are very tangible. One of its purposes is to provide an early warning system for flooding across the world. The mission also aims to offer a better understanding of global warming.
In discussions with NASA JPL it became clear that the three key words in the mission were ‘Global’, ‘Water’ and ‘Flow’. So that was the starting point for my work. The best logos are often simple ideas expressed beautifully and timelessly, so that was my objective. Design of this nature is a balancing act of aesthetic and functional considerations. I wanted the logo to evoke the earth, rivers and oceans. The arrows represent the swirling flow of eddies in the oceans that are central to SWOT’s focus. I wanted the letterforms to look elegant, modern, aerodynamic and robust.
I’m really pleased with the logo and the client likes it too. I got to work for some really nice and very smart people. I was very lucky to get my dream design job, but I think this is a great example of the correlation between hard work and luck. It is also a perfect example of finding something you love in life, in my case the Latin alphabet, aiming very high, setting goals and pursuing them with all of your heart. It has been my experience that when you do that great things can happen.