Designing a logo for myself was more challenging than I’d expected. In looking for inspiration, I kept wishing I were a hardcore specialist — that way, I could highlight a single, specific skill I excel at, or embody my “essence” through a symbol like an object or animal. I could easily think of logos I’d design for my parents, whose professions feel a lot more visually definable than mine: neurosurgery (a brain) and architecture (a house). I don’t have one shining skill, one dream job, and I’m actually pretty okay with that. It does, however, make it harder to distill myself down to a single memorable concept.
For that reason, I decided to focus more on my name. My name is, after all, a big part of my identity, and it is indicative of my habit of keeping different facets of myself separate. For context: my birth name was Betina Paglioli. When I came to the US for college, I decided to go by Tina because I don’t like the way English speakers pronounce my name (not many people in Brazil call me by my full name anyway; friends and family might call me Bê or Beti or Bets, all of which also sound strange in English). Then, when I got married in 2017, I took my husband’s last name (I really wanted to be Betina Solo Paglioli, since I never had a middle name anyway, but New York State only let me hyphenate the last names, and that seemed too annoying to deal with). I really like the sonority of Tina Solo, but I do have a serious issue in identifying with the T.S. initials after going my whole life identifying with B.P. (and B.S. would both be a little funny/vulgar and confusing for people who only know me as Tina). This is all a bit of a clusterfuck, but one I’ve embraced — and so I figured my logo should embrace it too.
In playing with the letters and shapes, I started being drawn by the idea of a “hidden B”. At first I just thought of it as a background to the logo — maybe a blobby B, that almost looks like a painter’s palette. But then I sketched a T and S together in a way that looked like a B, while still being legible as their respective letters when separate. On my second page of drafts, I kept exploring that shape, and eventually landed on this primary draft.
Another repeating feature in my drafts was the idea of mixing sharpness and smoothness. The letterforms of “TINA” (since for a logo, I liked it better capitalized) are very straight and pointy, whereas “Solo” (especially with a cursive l) is all curves. I was very drawn to that too, so I devoted a lot of time to exploring that as a second draft. On the left side is the “Solo” I drew on Illustrator, from scratch — I’d never tried lettering before, so I was pretty happy with the attempt, but I felt like something was off, especially when trying to pair it with another font for “TINA”. On the right, I made the full logo using two actual fonts made by professionals — I think it’s balanced better, but I preferred the form of my S, and in the end, it just seemed a little generic to me.
In the end, I stuck with the “hidden B” design: I feel like it’s clean and simple, but also a little intriguing in the oddness of the T and S. I’d hope that people who aren’t familiar with the history of my name would still be interested in the visual even if they don’t understand a deeper meaning — and maybe that would make it memorable and unique, as a logo should be.