This morning I was browsing through my Twitter feed when I saw this tweet from Mystery Joy Attack:
As I have been designing a type based logo recently (for a secret project soon to be revealed) I followed the link to an article about a new book revealing work from the sketchbooks of renowned typographers.
For some reason the linked name Milton Glaser stood out to me. Perhaps it was a niggling idea that I’d seen his name before. I clicked it and started reading about this man, an 82 year old New Yorker who happened to have designed the ‘I heart NY’ logo which he never made any money from. You’ll have seen that already of course so here’s Glaser’s original sketch:
I read on, found his website and discovered some short films which I proceeded to watch and I found them most inspiring. It wasn’t so much his art that struck me but rather what he was saying about art and creativity and drawing. I’ve embedded a couple from Vimeo below. Watch them. If you have a creative spark in your body, you’ll enjoy them.
“Curiously people think that the difficultly of drawing is making things look accurate. Accuracy is the least significant part of drawing. BUT you have to learn how to draw accurately before you can do anything else, then you can begin to think about drawing expressively. That’s another game entirely.”
“I always quote a guy called Lewis Hyde who wrote about primitive cultures where there’s an exchange of gifts that cannot be kept but have to be passed on. And the passing on of gifts is a device to prevent people from killing one another, because they all become part of a single experience. And [Hyde’s] leap of imagination occurs when he says this is what artists do. Artists provide that gift to the culture, so that people have something in common. And I think that all of us who identify with the role of artists in history want our work to serve that purpose. Certainly as much as we want to work to sell product. (Although not everybody feels the same way.)”
In this second film, I spotted this quote in Glaser’s studio which I quite liked too.
I tweeted a few quotes as I watched the films and left a few tabs open so I could archive it all later when I had returned from a client briefing. A few hours later I came home and saved the above to my Pinterest, in the Inspiration section.
After dinner, I’m perusing my Twitter again and there’s more talk of the new DC Comics (Detective Comics Comics) logo which has been baffling people for about a week or so now.
Whilst I may be a cartoonist I only rarely buy a DC comic, and the whole matter has no emotional relevance to me. It’s curious to me as an example of branding comics as I do that myself with my own and, as mentioned, I’ve been designing a logo recently. However this re-brand is by a large corporation (DC Entertainment/Warner Bros.) that makes a lot more money off pretty much everything to do with DC and it’s characters other than the comics themselves. The above logo is clearly designed to be flashy, work in motion for films and digital devices and to be adaptable to any character, which it does well. What is doesn’t do well is read clearly as the letters D and C, look like what I assume is supposed to be a comic page turning (I thought it was a sticker or ring-pull for a while) or have any legibility in silhouette.
And I’m being generous with that second example.
But whatever, right? What do I care? So I’m reading the comments on this article on The Beat to see what others think of this new design because I don’t care so much and I read that the previous previous design was by Milton Glaser. The classic DC bullet logo! Cosmic coincidence or what!?! So instead of reading articles about the new redesign I have peek around for articles on the old redesign. And here is what I learned.
- Milton Glaser’s DC logo was commissioned in 1976 and lasted almost 30 years until it was replaced by the “DC spin” design in 2005 which of course lasted 7 years.
- Comic fans on the internet love complaining (but I knew that already).
- Graphic designers on the internet eerily had the same things to say about the last update as they do about the new one. For example:
“It is obvious that DC’s new logo was created specifically for cinema. It reflects the industry’s new priority, of motion pictures over static. Still, the new logo is troublesome…” – Joe Sparano
And then there’s this great comment from an advertising perspective:
And while I’m sure we’ll all get used to the new logo and never think about it again, my very recent admiration for Glaser makes me wonder what if DC had stuck with his design and brought it into the 21st Century. While some of you may think that’s naivety and nostalgia talking, may I remind you of this:
As far as I know the Marvel logo has stayed relatively the same since 1961. Kyle Cooper intelligently uses this static, valuable logo in motion, and a pre-cinematic, flip book motion too. The whole 10 seconds imbues history, esteem and mythos.
As one commenter on this article about the 2005 redesign says, “If I had a Milton Glaser logo I wouldn’t change it for love nor money.” I agree but what do I know? Maybe in 30 years this illegible wet sticker will be hailed as a design classic. Not that I care of course.
Tags: Milton Glaser