Dear London 2012 Olympics,
Let's talk about your logo. In the bidding process for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Kino Design created a lovely image of a ribbon of the Olympic colors weaving through "London 2012" in the shape of your iconic River Thames. It was simple and eye-catching. It clearly stated the city and the year. It had an Olympic feel. It reflected a unique aspect of the host city. It was everything an Olympic logo should be. Your logo for the actual Games, by Wolff Olins, not so much.
I understand that your goal was to reach young people. You probably should have asked some young people (or, you know, people) what they thought of the design. Young people aren't just bright colors and hard-to-read, though it may seem like that sometimes. Young people appreciate good design as much as the next person. Maybe more so. Ugly does not equal young. The BBC ran a poll in which more than 80% of those surveyed awarded the design the lowest possible rating. Maybe that should have been a hint.
There are many directions you could have taken with this logo business.
Early in the modern Olympic era, the logos were similar, and though they started out fairly plain, they soon transformed into more poster-like advertisements for the Games. Although not all of them succeed on all counts, most of them are simple, eye-catching, have an Olympic feel, and reflect the host city.
Posters eventually gave way to more logo-like representations of a particular Olympic Games, but for many years, each Games had both a logo and a poster (or several). Often, the posters and logos complemented each other, like your own 1948 Games.
Early logos were official-looking affairs, all monotone and seal-like. This is certainly the type of thing to be avoided if you're looking to appeal to a younger crowd, and yet the Olympic Games represent more than 100 years of international competition in the modern era. There's nothing wrong with honoring a little bit of history (like you did so well in your opening ceremony).
Another option would have been to make it painfully obvious that you're the host country. Make the Union Jack the focal point, so nobody can forget the London 2012 happened in the UK. This was the strategy taken by both Los Angeles Games, and two of the three games held in Japan.
Although it seems easiest to accomplish this with a Winter Games, you could have gone with a motif that represents the season, or a particular sport. Snowflakes, like Sapporo above, seem to be a popular choice. Lillehammer used a representation of the aurora, and though St. Mortiz was a Winter Games, the sunshine seems to work.
A sport, a torch, or simply an abstraction (of strength, grace, movement, power, or an element of the host city). Simple and eye-catching. Easy to read. Olympic spirit. Reflection of the host city. More than one of the above are required for a good Olympic logo.
But I see what you were trying to do. You wanted the text itself to be the design. Well-designed text can make for an elegant, stunning, simple, powerful logo. But it's not easy to do.
And yet, with over a century of examples, ranging from excellent to mediocre, you came up with this monstrosity. It hurts my eyes. Animated footage of it triggered seizures in viewers with photosensitive epilepsy. How many people approved the design before it became official?
It's not pleasing to look at. From a distance, it doesn't look like anything at all.
Now, London, I understand that it was a design firm and not you responsible for this particular design, but it's possible to make your design firm start over. It's even possible to fire your design firm and hire another one. Like maybe the one that did your candidate city logo. That one was nice.
I realize it's too late now, so just know that you've won the gold—for worst Olympic logo ever.
It's not that I'm trying to prove that I knew he was cool before anyone else. It's more that I'm trying to prove to myself that I have good taste, and that it was worth it to remember his name.
You see, that original venue was the ill-fated 1000 Markets. You've probably heard of Etsy; 1000 Markets was the same idea, except, well, beautiful. Selling one's wares involved a few hurdles (the site was curated; your product photos had to look good, or you wouldn't be accepted), which ensured that any page on the site looked clean and professional. I loved the way my products looked on 1KM. I loved the way everyone's products looked on 1KM. It became the shop I sent people to, because that's how I wanted them to see my products for the first time.
Unfortunately, it was not to be, and 1KM URLs now bounce to Bonanza. Double-unfortunately, Bonanza is ugly (I actually just poked around after typing that, to see if their site design had improved at all. I thought for a few moments that I was wrong, and they had improved—it didn't look so bad! But then I found the mother of all reasons never to sell my wares there: all-caps extra-large comic sans. In three different colors. Granted, it was an individual seller's shop policies, but it shouldn't even be an option. I didn't go hunting for it; it was the first item I clicked on).
But, back to my impeccable taste. So, Frank Chimera had a shop on 1KM, and I found his art and loved it, and blogged about it in 2009. What I didn't know (until I don't know, today maybe?) was that Frank was also responsible for the beautiful site design of 1000 Markets. Chimero said, "Artisanal selling is the only model of selling things where there's delight on both sides: delight in making, and then delight in consuming. It's a transfer of delight."
It turns out, delight is a bit of a specialty for Frank Chimero. You may have noticed that everything in this post that can be a link is a link, except for Frank's name. That's because I'm making you wait for the delight. His newly launched website, and this other thing of his I found, are absolutely delightful. You need to see them. I promise they're worth the wait.
As far as I can tell, this personal / professional landing page doesn't even exist anymore—at least not in this form. Then, posted a week later, but it's possible I saw them the same day, was this mention of Frank's newly redone website on Swiss Miss.
So take a few minutes for the delight. Scroll down. Slowly. Maybe a few times. Then come back here, because I'm not done showing you the awesome yet. http://FrankChimero.com
Are you back? Are you impressed by that delightful scrolley business? OK, now go here: Frank Chimero's Lost World's Fair: Atlantis. Scrolling all the way to the bottom of a ridiculously long web page has never been so delightful!
There are many interviews with this design master out there, and all of them leave you wanting to be a designer if you're not one already, or to be a better designer if you are. He just wrote a book: The Shape of Design, if you want to delve deeper. This talk he did at the Build Conference is pretty good, too, though I think his audience is a bit of a dud: they don't laugh at his jokes!
One more thing I found impressive, though not at all surprising: almost all of the websites I could find that feature an interview with Frank, or his art, design, or ideas, itself is an example of great design. It's reassuring to see that the people who praise Frank Chimero the most actually know what they're talking about. They recognize great design because they strive to create it themselves.
Below are some of my favorite well-designed sites talking about Frank Chimero:
Oh, also The Mavenist is pretty awesome. Frank explains what it is here, using my all-time favorite exchange from The West Wing as an analogy. Can this fool get any better? Oh, wait, he's a Portland boy, so—yes, yes he can.
I have been intrigued by photography printed on canvas for quite some time. Art on canvas seems inherently more permanent than art on paper, even archival quality photographic paper.
But having spent the last 20 years attempting to eliminate all vestiges of graininess from my photographs, it's hard willingly to have one printed on a textured surface.
This canvas would also represent the largest format on which one of my photographs had ever been printed. The hardest part for me was definitely choosing which photograph to use. I wanted to use a photograph with a high resolution, so the print size was not an issue. I also wanted a photograph with lots of intricate detail, so I could see exactly how details fared on the canvas substrate.
And, of course, I had to want that photograph on my wall for a while. Almost as soon as I made my final decision to use the above photograph, I began to regret it. I have no problem with a giant crustacean on my wall, but I have roommates...
I delayed hanging the image until I gauged their reactions. I figured it could have gone one of two ways: "Ooh! That is so cool!" or "Good grief, what is that?"
Luckily, it was the former.
My box from Zaza Gallery arrived far sooner than I expected it; a pleasant surprise.
I immediately opened the package and began inspecting the canvas closely. The detail was remarkable. Each grain of sand and bump on the crab's back was crisp and in focus, despite being printed on a textured surface.
The craftsmanship of the frame itself was top-notch as well. The corners were neatly folded, and the borders of the image were mirrored as they wrapped around the wooden frame, giving the illusion of the image continuing around the edge, without any loss of visibility of the image borders from the front.
All in all, I am quite pleased with my first canvas, and I shall return to Zaza Gallery for my future canvas printing needs.