Tag Archives: logos

GRAPHIC DESIGN X MATCHES — LIT AF!!!

Our annual New Year’s ritual of doing some house cleaning and organizing, throwing things out and making room for all the stuff we got as Xmas gifts, yielded this small trove of matchbooks and matchboxes. We must have picked up these from various restaurants and shops because the designs struck us in some way at the moment we saw them. Each design is distinct and an exercise in branding. These matches are from the New York City outpost of the restaurant Mission Chinese; James Beach, a restaurant in Venice Beach; Esquelito, a jewelry store in Echo Park, Los Angeles and the Spanish word for “skeleton”; the Crosby Street Hotel in SoHo, New York; and Love Adorned, another jewelry shop with branches in NYC and LA.

Common Room

The branding of coffee roaster and cafe Common Room in Costa Mesa, California is a simple two-dimensional, flat icon of a coffee cup and saucer. It appears repeated in a diagonal pattern across the cafe’s exterior, a gray single-story brick warehouse-type building in a light-industrial business park devoid of shops and the hustle-and-bustle street traffic that comes with it. The windows are darkly shaded. Both its location and  secretive minimalist architectural design give it an air of mystique.

New York Street Art … Gucci-Styled Cartoon Ghosts

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Design … Man + Woman Symbols at Ij Kantine Amsterdam

The international symbols for man and woman often used on signage for restrooms at airports, museums, restaurants and public places, etc., throughout the world are sometimes reinterpreted by designers. We noticed a lot of variations on the symbols at various places in Amsterdam on our recent visit there. Pictured here are the even more minimalist and pared down and arm-less versions of these symbols used in signage at Ij Kantine, a massive, beautifully designed restaurant and bar in Amsterdam’s northside across the Ij River. We’ll post images of the restaurant in a separate post soon.

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“Smart Air” by Artist Raemann … New York

A sparkly fresh new wheat-paste street art piece by the artist Raemann on Lafayette Street in NoHo, downtown New City. “Smart Air” is another in series of artworks that depict “bottled air” as a consumer product branded with the logos of popular bottled-water brands, such as Dasani, Perrier, Poland Spring, and, as pictured here, Smart Water.

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Super Minimalist Bianchi Bicycle Magazine Ad

Brand-awareness ads in magazines rarely come as simple, bold and minimalist as this two-page spread for the Italian bicycle maker Bianchi in the Dutch cycling mag Soigneur. Aside from logotype and slogan on aquamarine-like blue, the pages are blank. Love love love the color.

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New York Street Art … “McDictator” – A Nazi Ronald McDonald

This recent street art (pictures below) by the street artist “WhIsBe” in New York City is charged with provocative imagery and is a striking piece of commentary on corporate brands and the military. The artwork is a mash-up of the McDonald’s corporation’s red-headed clown mascot Ronald McDonald and its branding with fascist militaristic images (Hitler moustache, Nazi salute and uniform). This is one of the more exciting, fresher pieces of street art we’ve seen in a long time. If this wheat-paste street artwork is still up, you can find it on a wall on Thompson Street between Spring and Broome streets in SoHo.

It’s important to note art history has a long track record of artwork and artists being misunderstood and controversial. Or, to be more precise, of artists and their artwork being interpreted in multiple, vastly different ways by its audience. Especially public art and street art, which lacks the institutional context of the museum or gallery and the curatorial background that context provides to viewer. Street art imposes itself on the landscape and thus the audience. (Whereas viewing art at a museum or gallery is by and large an exercise in the audience opting in to the experience.)

WhisBe’s mash-up of military imagery and a global corporate brand to create the “McDictator” is a way of vividly, boldly taking well-known visual references and using these to make a powerful, critical and thought-provoking comment on a specific brand and corporation: McDonald’s. That’s one read. Another read is that it’s a comment on the dangers of fascism and totalitarianism, especially when these are promoted behind a cheery, charming disguise (a happy clown).

There is no explicit using of Nazi symbols in the artwork, but the figure’s pose is with little doubt derived from an archival photo of a Nazi solider (possibly Hitler) and the infamous salute, and anybody familiar with 20th Century history will recognize it as such. While some of the symbolic imagery is offensive in and of itself, it would be a misreading to think the artwork is condoning or trying to paint a positive face on the evils of fascism or Nazism and its horrors.

The imagery is a piece of visual shorthand. When this visual grammar is re-configured, re-contextualized, juxtaposed and mashed up with the McDonald’s imagery, it’s making an entirely different artistic statement than, say, if someone were to put up unadulterated photos of Hitler himself.

But like all art — in all its forms — it is the individual in the audience to make of the art what they will, to derive what meaning there may be in the work, and arrive at some understanding of it after critical thought.

See more examples of WhisBe’s street art on Global Graphica.

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ALife Wild-Posting Ads in SoHo … New York

These wheat-pasted Alife ad posters on Crosby Street, in SoHo, are trying to be provocative but feel conceptually kind of tired to us, even though we’re seeing them here for the first time. We suppose the ads work on a brand-awareness level, since we’d forgotten the clothing brand and hadn’t seen it anywhere for awhile. Maybe our tastes have changed and where we shop for clothes isn’t where Alife is stocked anymore.

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Japanese Street Art Logo … Tokyo

This graphic on a wall in Shibuya, in Tokyo, looks and feels like a piece of street art and could have been created by stencil, paint-print, heat transfer or painted by hand. It may be graphical logo for a restaurant or company brand mark. Whatever it is, we think it’s frackin’ awesome. The image itself looks like a super-simplified rendering of a mythological Buddha-like character from Japanese historical iconography.

(Hey readers! If you can identify what this is, send us an email.)

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