99 (fabulous) Designs

Recently I shared with everyone my desire and quest for a new logo for my blog. Well, I have arrived at a winner. Before the big reveal, first let me walk you through the process of getting my dream logo.

I used the site 99 Designs.  It’s social media for graphic design!  Here is how it works:

  • On the site, you start a contest, letting the graphic designers know what you are looking for in a logo.  You place a monetary value on the contest.
  • Graphic designers from all over the world submit designs on your page for review.  You rate the designs and give them feedback to make changes.  You also eliminate designs as the contest goes on.
  • At the end of the contest duration, you choose a winner, and that designer gets the monetary price you allocated to the contest at the start.

Here is what my contest page looked like toward the end of my contest:

See all of the choices I had?  One designer stood out to me from the getgo- WHY?  Because he found a creative way to incorporate imagery that signified “Art” without being typical and cheesy by using the “A” in art, as the palette!

Here are the winning designs! I got three different types of designs, to be used for different things.

This logo I want to become the header on my blog, as well as use for things like letter head for correspondence.



The more condensed version above I will be using for things like business cards for teaching and presenting at conferences.





Then, we ended up with one more piece to this design puzzle. The girl! When I asked for opinions, many people did not give the poor girl rave reviews. Some thought it was fun, other thought maybe a little to fun… I personally love the girl, especially for this blog, because she represents me, my own avatar (only taller) :) Plus, she represents that every great company, business or project has a person behind it, someone who’s passion ignites the work being done.  That person is me, and I wanted something to represent that.  I decided not to associate her with any text, therefore I can use this logo as it fits. For example, she would not appear on letterhead to submit my research to a publication :)

I got each of the above logos I was able to get in each of the colors, teal and coral, so I can mix and match. Gotta love the choices.


A little healthy competition is always a recipe for success.  I think the site idea is brilliant and I was very pleased with some of the designs that were created for me!  As an artist myself, the whole concept is very intriguing.  I do not think I could have made the logo myself. I wanted to see what other creative minds had in store.  My logo ended up being exactly what I had pictured, however I could not have pictured it until I saw it.. You know how that is!

Why A Logo?

As a professional both as an educator, blogger, conference presenter, Iowa Art Educators board member, graduate educator and leader of my art department, I am constantly growing as career opportunities come my way. I have big goals and big dreams.  I wanted a logo that would carry me through the next steps in my career, whatever they may be. One that could represent professional development for art teachers, represent me as an educator and blogger and also represent innovation and vibrancy in this profession.

Imagine when I go to NAEA Conference and am able to hand out business cards that might look like this:



Remember, branding yourself is so very important. I am not simply branding this blog, but all of my professional endeavors. Just like on the show “What Not to Wear”.. Although whats on the inside matters most, you can’t always get to it if the outside is unapproachable.

Look for slight changes as I transition to using this logo. It will take time, however, I am very excited about what the future holds. Upcoming this week look for some really amazing resources for portfolios and assessments in the art room! I can’t wait to share more with you!

Why do you think branding is important?

What do you think of the new logos?

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Please excuse me of bring this up; you have a great blog which I follow with love and that is why I feel the need to write to you what I think. As an art instructor and graphic designer I don’t understand how you can work with 99 design web, you call it fair competition but those people are trying to make their living from graphics. Imagine a school that instead of hiring an art teacher would invite creative art students to volunteer to teach their students thru out the years.Each year the top students would volunteer,they get experience and the kids get young and creative teacher.
    Since I haven’t seen that particular site I am just guessing that this website charge the designers to bid for the job, so all the designers put a bid, spent hours on you project but only one person got your fees while the company made a lot of money. I have joined 2 freelance websites that offer great design job,the designer pays to bid, there are hundred of designers from all over the world trying for the same job. Meanwhile, there are dozens of great designers in every local area, coming out of school every day and trying to make a living. Those websites turn the graphic industry to a cheap market.

  • Thank you for following my blog! As a designer yourself, I appreciate your willingness to express you opinion and insight about the graphic design work I recently had done. I also think your comment brings up some really important points.

    To reply to some of your thoughts:

    I have never thought it to be of my interest to spend any amount of time feeling particularly sorry for someone who willingly chooses to participate in something. These designers choose to participate in 99 Designs, no one is forcing them. They obviously see a benefit to the site, whether it be promotion of their work, or gaining money by winning designs. I would say the competition is very fair. The best person to meet the clients needs wins.

    I do not think competition is necessarily a bad thing. If the educational system had more healthy competition between schools and teachers, I firmly believe that our Educational system would not be as broken as it is- stuck on mediocre performances and “getting by.” (I am not saying everyone…. but as a whole) What if you did have to compete to keep your art teacher job? Would you step up your game? You bet. Would you become a better teacher? I bet you would. Would the students learn in exciting and new ways? I bet they would. Take that further and think about if you were actually rewarded in a variety of ways for getting ahead in this competition… It’s a cycle that would change education as we know it.

    The world is getting smaller and smaller with the Internet. One could choose to think this company cheapens the profession, or they could see it as broadening the profession to limitless opportunities for graphic designers to gain clients from all around the world. I do believe in supporting local businesses… In this case 99 Designs was the best choice for me.

    By the way, my designer’s name is Scott Gladd. He has his own graphic design business as well as participating on 99 Designs. He is a really cool guy.
    Here is his site:
    Feel free to contact him:
    e :: scottjgladd {at} yahoo.com
    p :: 614 795.0472
    I will be sure to contact him the next time I am in need of graphics services! He was a wonderful person to work with. (Does anyone still feel sorry for Scott because he chooses participated in 99 Designs?) I would never have found him if I had not entered.

    Although I am not a graphic designer, like yourself, I cannot fully understand the profession, however my logic here tells me I made the right choice and I am fully satisfied with that choice.

    Again, Thanks for your willingness to get your thoughts out there and for stopping by. I appreciate it!

  • I often feel like the best person for the job doesn’t always GET the job. Especially in education. I have been on the other side of this. I felt I was the best person for the job, proved myself and worked at my best yet was laid off due to seniority (of a person who signed their contract an hour before me.) We all know the story has a happy ending for this year at least but I firmly believe that the position I was in was unfair. When the right person for the job doesn’t get the job, now that is unfair. I have also been to many interviews where districts already have to hire from within or hire because someone has a relative but must legally hold interviews. That’s not fair to waste our time.

    To respond to talented students volunteering for teaching jobs. . . I don’t understand why they would intern/volunteer for a job that would never materialize. If this school NEVER hires they would have a hard time getting good people to take the internship. I was in a similar situation interning for a film company in New York and when I saw there was no money in it, I decided that it was insane to keep interning without a hope of a job materializing. I think people make their own decisions. In the world of education, we would be better off if we could keep teachers and hire teachers who really love their job and kids. The people who shouldn’t have to worry about their job wouldn’t and others would step up or start worrying!

    If you (Jessica) use this designer for all of your work this website was more like a way for these artists to network with potential costumers. I bet there are some people who would like other logos better. Can they check out their work and then contact those designers? That might be cool and a way for designers to network with a paying audience.

    • Erica,

      Yes, of course! If the contest is “Open” then you can see all of the submissions of yours and other contests. That is how I found Scott in the first place. I saw his work on another contest, and I invited him to enter mine because I liked his portfolio (Each designer on this site has a portfolio where you can view their current and past designs, and contact them and invite them to your contest).

      You are correct – Life is not fair and the best thing does not happen to the best person, however, if you are putting forth your best, the laws of attraction will say at some point the good will come back to you! If you do not try, you will never know. Plus, all of the hard things in life are the things you learn from and become stronger.

      Look at you now!

  • That is cool I might look at some of the designers.

    You are so nice! And yes the laws of attraction DO work. . . sorry for my rant. . . I have to temper myself when I think about unions and education!!! Glad you found the right person for the job!

  • Suz

    Hum I think this is really cool for my side business (applique kids clothes) . I sell on etsy and at fairs and a few consignment shops and I’ve had to stick with pre-made logos I bought on etsy or my not so impressive attempts at graphic design. Even though I’m an art teacher I’m not so slick with the graphics programs and my attempts at logos, banners and business cards look really amateurish. I think the website sounds like a great way for small graphic designers to get work from people they usually would not come in contact with! I will have to check out the website but would have no idea how much to offer as the payment. Would it be rude to ask how much you paid for yours? You could give me a ballpark price range if that is more comfortable.

    • Hi Suz- I sent you an email with some details! :) Designs start at $295 and go up from there. You can choose your level. Hope it helps!

  • When you post a 99designs contest you (the person looking for a design) pay a fee to 99designs. For a recent (small) project, I paid a designer $110, and 99designs $40 (basically for the web space)… The designers don’t have to pay :)