When I designed my first logos at university I was really quite bad at it. I don't like being bad at anything so I saw it as a challenge to get better. Over the years I have developed a passion for logos. Whether mine or someone else's, I love a well-designed logo. It seems to me to be one of the oldest human art forms - making symbols.
I am a traditionalist. I have seen good uses of the Web 2.0 look and some designers are really good at it but I still believe in the old-school techniques: solid shapes, limited line-weights, reproducable in a single color (no fades, shadows, etc.). A good logo also needs to be reproducable under the most limited circumstances. The litmus test for me is if the logo holds up when faxed.
My weakest point in logo design is typography. I recognize this to be a shortcoming, but I really love the icons. I will normally enlist the help of my good friends Boris and Anna, to help me with the type.
Many things and people have influenced my designs. Two of the all-time greats - Saul Bass and Paul Rand - were my first and strongest influences. There really are not many designers of their caliber around today. History will probably place Bill Gardner, Jack Anderson and Ivan Chermeyeff in that class, however. Other influences include poster designs of the early 20th century, especially WWI and WWII propaganda and Golden Age of Travel posters.
I also really love old things. There is an antique paper shop here in Richmond and I really enjoy digging through the hundreds of boxes of old photos and handbills. Archaeology, language and history are also strong influences for me.
I don't think I have arrived as a logo designer yet. I am pleased with my work but never satisfied. With every project I try to do better than the last.
It is really difficult to say what makes a great logo. There is no formula and I like many different styles (though my own style is narrow). There are objective elements such as how well the mark fits the client and their core values, and every logo should address these issues first. Then there is the Wow! factor. When I see a logo that makes me say "Damn, I wish I had designed that" I know I am looking at a really good logo.