Seed 100 update: introducing Colin Adams, designer of the Robotux logo

Ada Lovelace portrait

Ada Lovelace portrait

Analytical Engineer donors to the Seed 100 campaign receive one of two pieces of art. One of them is an Ada Lovelace portrait by illustrator Colin Adams. We love Colin’s beautiful portrait (shown right), which is based on the 1838 portrait of Ada Lovelace by A.E. Chaton (found in the trash!), and we’re thrilled to introduce Colin and his work to you.

People in open source may have met Colin’s work before: Colin is the designer of the Robotux logo used by LinuxChix, which Valerie commissioned in 2007 and subsequently released under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike.

Valerie asked Colin a few questions about the Robotux logo and its subsequent remixing.

You came up with the idea for and drew the LinuxChix “Robotux” logo, which was the first LinuxChix logo that wasn’t some variation of a woman, a computer, or the Tux penguin logo. What really made it different is that it showed a woman in control of technology – and looked super stylish at the same time. Tell us about the process of designing that logo.

Robotux logo for LinuxChix, showing a woman operating a robot penguin exoskeleton

Robotux logo by Colin Adams, CC BY-SA

To design that logo, I thought about and sketched up all of the things that the LinuxChix were, symbolic and metaphoric along with the basic elements of women and Linux. Most logos and illustrations start with the really boring and simple solution, and evolve as you realize how to do it in a more creative way. If you were doing a logo for something like a golf store, I would guess that 90% of them have some combination of a tee, a golf ball, or a club. A dimpled golf ball for the “O” or something. That’s where the brain starts, but good design is thinking past that. Maybe just a broken tee, or just the ripples of the pond where your ball just went, or even the amorphous shape of the green. For LinuxChix, I ended up thinking that it wasn’t just women who have something to do with a penguin logo, but rather women who took control of Linux by programming. That thought, along with the programmers as self-starters and mold-breakers led to the idea of a woman who built and programed a robot in her basement. putting her in its head (instead of nearby with a remote) showed that she was its actual brain and master.

“Robotux” was remixed into the Unicorn/Robotux logo for Haecksen by Lisa Wood of Pixellab. Had your art been remixed before? What did you think about having someone else riff on your design?

A unicorn driving a giant robotic penguin exoskeleton

Unicorn Robotux, by Lisa Wood and Colin Adams, CC BY-SA

Seeing the remix by Lisa Wood was great, I’m not sure if any of my images had been remixed before. It’s good to see two things mashed up, and for it to work, the original logo has to be well known enough to recognize that it is a re-mix.

Coming up soon: more about Colin’s work, his interest in steampunk, and of course, the Ada Lovelace portrait itself.