A new post and less than a month to wait for it, you must have been good to merit this! Anyway, in the previous post I mentioned that I was about to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony and expressed the sentiment that it was likely to be 'a bit pants' in places. Soon to be Sir Danny Boyle, I was wrong, frankly I loved every minute of it (at least until Paul McCartney turned up at the end to take the shine off things). Sadly the closing ceremony couldn't match it and reverted to the default, 'we've got pop stars and we're going to use them' setting as seen in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations (is there anything that Annie Lennox won't turn up to?). The star of both shows for me was undoubtedly the other Beatle at the feast. Lennon's 'Come Together' was eerily performed by the Arctic Monkeys at the opening ceremony and Lennon's own version of 'Imagine' was interpreted by a signing choir at the closing ceremony. Both accompanied by some of the most impressive visuals of their respective events. And the two weeks sport in between the two shows was pretty good too!
So, team GB done good, world records were broken, a single school in Plymouth produced four Olympians, two of them medallists, the sun shone (mostly) and Bradley Wiggins was officially crowned as the new Modfather. What, you are asking yourself could he possibly find to complain about ...
I'll tell you, partly it's the graphics. We had several years to get used to the aberration that is the official London 2012 logo and it's accompanying gaffer taped, utterly useless typeface. Not being privy to the brief given to the designers (although I can imagine the words 'dynamism,' 'vibrancy' and 'inclusivity' being in there somewhere) we can only assume that it's demands were somehow met. And, in a way, it doesn't really matter what it looks like, the designers had a virtually blank slate on which to create a brand. Presumably the only elements that needed to be included were the words 'London 2012' and the Olympic Rings. We all know that the Olympic Rings should be different colours (to represent each of the five continents if memory serves, but essentially they're a trademark owned by the IOC) but there is enough precedent in the design elements of previous Olympic logos to justify incorporating a monochrome version in London's logo (and it would presumably have to have been OK'd by the IOC anyway). So, overall verdict, ghastly logo, truly horrible typeface, vile colourways but it gets the job even done whilst looking shit.
Now, compare and contrast Stella McCartney's official Team GB kit designs, which I'm sure we all admit looks the biz? Except, what's with the monochrome? That's the Union Flag, the banner of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and as such all of its elements, without exception, hold meaning. It is a piece of heraldry, not a logo, trademark or 'brand'. If you change one element, you change the whole and it loses meaning. Its significance does not lie solely in the shapes created by overlaying crosses and saltires. Simply because our Island nation(s) is blessed with a geometrically interesting flag does not imply that ignoring the coloured bits that don't fit your particular design idea is somehow OK. This is annoying enough when it occurs on the chintzy Chinese made patchwork 'Union Jack' scatter cushions that seem to be everywhere this year, when it happens at a global sporting event it's more than that. It means somebody somewhere didn't think it mattered enough to care.
However if Stella's feeling a bit got at, she's not the only guilty party. Step forward the English FA who commissioned their coat of arms, since used as a badge by the England football team, from the College of Arms in 1949. That's right boys, it's pukka heraldry, every element has meaning, including the colours, remember? So what the bloody hell does this mean then?
If you've been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog and would like to moan at somebody about them I'll be at Tavistock's Bank Square Artist's Market on Saturday 1st September.
Work in progress and other stuff that happens.