Making the Logo

When I was asked about what my logo would be my immediate response was an Ouroboros. This is an ancient symbol of a snake devouring its own tail and represents the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Snakes hold personal significance to me. They are symbols of creativity, fertility and regeneration. They also represent healing, transformation and immortality. In Chinese tradition, snakes straddle the animal and human realm and can take either form in many myths and legends. The famous Lady White Snake is renowned for her beauty, sensuality, purity and loyalty. Chinese tradition also regards snakes as symbols of wisdom, longevity and spirituality.

The Rod of Asclepius, the emblem of the medical profession, is a staff encircled by a snake. The snake’s ability to shed its skin made it a natural symbol of rejuvenation and renewal. It also holds the potentiality of poison and potion (for healing).

I told my graphic designer, Gulnara, that I did not want a perfect circle for the Ouroboros. Perfect circles do not occur in nature and I wanted my logo to reflect that. Furthermore, I wanted the Ouroboros to be represented by a brush stroke. In accordance with my love of Chinese calligraphy, I wanted the manual touch of a brush–with its texture and irregularities–rather than a computer generated shape; plus the tactile nature of a brush stroke conveys movement and energy on the page. I also specified an open circle. I’ve never been comfortable with closed circles. An open circle is protective and embracing while allowing for possibilities and influences from the outside world. 

I have signed my paper charts or patients’ labs with my initials most of my professional life, so it was natural to use my initials in the logo. (In fact, in the past I have used VL as a pseudonym–spelled out as Viel–when I wanted anonymity). I asked Gulnara to place the ‘v’ as a forked tongue on the snake in orange and follow it with the other initials. We played around with the placement until it looked decent. Then we had to decide where to place the snake’s head–on the left or right side of the circle. Placing it on the right was my first preference but this then cut into the tail of the Ouroboros. Placing it on the left meant that the initials were now inside the circle. 

That was something I resisted at first–I didn’t want to be contained inside anything, particularly since I have squeezed myself into boxes my whole life. But this wasn’t a box, and I am known for hiding out in my own enclave for long periods between interacting with the rest of the world. And most importantly, this was an open circle. I also liked that the movement of the Ouroboros was now clockwise. Apparently, in Sanskrit, ‘clockwise’ arose from the term for ‘sunwise’, and this movement in Nature felt appropriate for my Ouroboros.