i guess i'm just aiming for a simple yet smart looking logo
This describes nearly every logo ever made.
My point was that if you just throw in elements without rhyme or reason, you are not "designing" anything, you are just mixing spaghetti and hoping for a meal.
Good design is making sure that each element of a piece communicates and solves a communication problem. Not only that, but the gestalt of the piece does this as well. If you want to make pretty pictures, go into fine art, graphic design is more akin to architecture.
1. Define your clients communication need. (Research)
2. Sketch your ass off for a week, without editing, on paper, with every idea you can conceive to supply the above communication need. (Thumbnails)
3. Comb over your sketches and pull out your best, most effective (NOT only what you think looks cool) solutions and draw iterations and variations on theme. (Rough draft)
4. Of the roughs, pick the two most effective pieces, turn on your computer, and draw black and white versions. Test these on envelopes, business cards, shirts, etc, etc. Look for ways that your b&w fails and look for solutions. (Comprehensive)
5. Once you have a couple of workable, flexible comps, work up a spot-color and 4-color process version for presentation to the client along with a design brief to explain your SOLUTION (not your "art").
6. Have a sammich.
Good luck to you.