Lending a Hand

Shaheed Khan of Khan Kreativ has been a friend and neighbour of Kathy Barnard’s for many years, and is infamous among the Save Your Skin community for being the designer of the Save Your Skin sun logo. Shaheed has been thinking about the evolution of the logo lately, and wrote a short essay for us about its origin from a graphic designers point of view.

Logo design is fun, yet hard to perfect. As logos need to represent the brand effectively and communicate their mission at the same time, logos demand time for their planning and conceptualization.

As a graphic designer, it feels great to find my clients so convinced about the power of a logo and what benefits it can earn them; therefore, I would say it is not just enough getting a simple logo designed for the sake of just having it. With these aims in mind, designing a great logo is no easy task.

Kathy approached me and briefed me on the Foundation and its objectives, requesting my help on a logo design. I knew immediately that this was going to be a challenge, as the creation of any logo is. After researching what was needed for the project, I knew I did not want to create just any charity logo. I wanted to create something that was exceptional and memorable, that would reflect what the Foundation is about. Something to tell the story effectively and convey its message with a lasting legacy. I knew I had to think outside the box.

Inspirations or conceptuals can strike immediately or agonizingly linger with frustration, but in this case it came quickly. That evening as I went to bed, I happened to look at the wall and was suddenly inspired by a framed picture of my young daughters hand print . With this inspiration I applied the concept of utilizing Kathy’s hand print, then creating the shape of the “SUN”, which seemed to be the logical step forward. I was confident in this idea, yet I still had to sell it to Kathy. After presenting my idea to Kathy, she immediately fell in in love with the concept, so out came the paint and I wasted no time in getting a print of her hand to begin what is now the Save your Skin Foundation logo.

From concept to reality, the logo has evolved into a strong visual identity, representing the SYSF brand effectively. As you can imagine, a great logo is not the end but the beginning of building a great brand identity!

We spoke to Shaheed recently to have a less technical discussion about the inspiration for and evolution of the eye-catching and colourful logo that has become synonymous with the Save Your Skin brand.

When we asked Shaheed if the Save Your Skin sun counted among his favourite projects, he told me that “Kathy’s one always comes up, because there’s such a brilliant story to go with it.” As far as logos go, Shaheed is right; the Save Your Skin sun is not only aesthetically pleasing, it’s also rife with symbolism for the work the foundation does and Kathy’s own life. The inspiration for the logo is deeply personal to Shaheed as well.

While inspiration for a project can take weeks or even months to come, Shaheed stumbled upon his idea for the sun logo pretty quickly. However, before inspiration struck, he had anticipated that it would be challenging to create “something that had to symbolize a charity, and also had to symbolize the sun.” After a day of research and pondering possible designs, Shaheed was heading up to bed when he noticed a framed picture on the stairs; the handprint of his four year old daughter, Chloe. Looking at the hand, he saw skin (figuratively), and the sun’s rays in the fingers. “When I saw it,” Shaheed told us, “I knew instantly what I had to do”. The next day, Shaheed was mocking up the first draft of the Save Your Skin logo.

The colours Shaheed chose, vibrant yellow and red, were not only intended to represent the sun, but also the symbolic values of yellow as fun and happiness, and red as danger and passion. While he had all of these things in mind, Shaheed characterizes his choosing of the specific shades he used as “a complete fluke.” It turned out to be a very lucky fluke. The colours he chose have not only become synonymous with the foundation, coincidentally, they are the colours of Kathy’s favourite flower in her home away from home in Palm Springs, the desert orange.

While this lucky colour selection heightened the appeal of the logo to Kathy, it was perfect for her already. Kathy loved everything about the logo, from it’s appearance to it’s symbolic representation of the foundation. She especially loves that the inspiration came from Shaheed’s daughter, Chloe, whom Kathy has always had a close relationship with. This connection goes both ways; Kathy gave Chloe one of the first Save Your Skin t-shirts with the hand logo, and Shaheed told us that Chloe still sleeps in it. His inspiration coming from Chloe is also Shaheed’s sentimental link to this project. He told us, “the emotion for me comes from the connection with people and Chloe”; for Shaheed, the hands of the logo are all about connection. He summarizes his interpretation of the hand logo by saying, “what’s connected to this hand is a whole bunch of personal endeavours and tragic things, and friends, and family.” This is definitely a true aspect of Save Your Skin, an organization that began as a very small number of people trying to assist others dealing with their own tragedies. Shag later mentioned that “those fingers represent friends and family that are all connected to that hand”, which is also true, given the endless friends and family that have supported the foundation, and those struggling with melanoma that the foundation has helped. This is only one interpretation, and Shaheed realizes that there are many other possibilities. “I think that’s what makes this logo very unique. It’s not just a pretty logo, there’s more to it than a colourful feel, or a symbol of the sun,” he muses, “there’s a lot hidden in there.”

Another perk of the Save Your Skin logo’s depth is that it has matched the evolution of the foundation. When Shaheed created the logo, Save Your Skin was such a fledgling company – no one anticipated what the foundation would go on to achieve. Now, the hands are more than a sun; they are Kathy’s literal hand (cool, right?) connecting with, helping, and protecting people, which is very indicative of the work Save Your Skin does. The physical shape of the logo has also proven to be malleable to Save Your Skin’s different projects, and for these Shaheed has created other logos based on the sun. These endeavours include the “Diamond in the Sky” logo, and the logo for the Sun at Work initiative. When someone the foundation has connected with passes, Kathy names a star after them to keep their memory alive, thus the “Diamond in the Sky”, which is used on the certificates that Kathy gives to the families of these people who have passed. The Sun at Work initiative is a national project Save Your Skin is participating in, along with several other skin cancer organizations, to create sun safety programs in outdoor workplaces. The logos for both of these projects include the original hand print of Kathy’s.

When Shaheed was asked why he anticipated that the Save Your Skin project would be a challenge, he said “the challenge for me was to have the right thing.” He did create the right thing; he created something that will last forever, and be Kathy’s legacy, just as he intended. He is now also a part of that legacy, as one of the fingers on the hand.


Written by Taylor