Usually when we talk about dirty logo design, we are referring to plagiarism or other major issues. However, a Chinese artist has taken dirty design to an entirely new level, using ancient packed earth construction techniques to re-create some of the world’s most famous logos.
The art, created by Chinese artist Mu Chen, is displayed at the Shanghai Gallery of Art in a show known as “Forever and Ever.” Chen created the earthen designs with specially shaped molds similar to those used to make earth bricks. These molds, shaped like some of the most recognizable logo designs of our day, were packed with different colors of Chinese soil and topped with bright fluorescent paint. One of the major statements of the exhibit is the fact that the paint does not seep into the Chinese soil.
The result, once the molds are removed, is a solid rendering of the logo with stripes of understated earth colors topped with a bright layer. The dirty logos range from 50 centimeters to 1.5 meters tall and include notable logos such as Apple, the Nike Swoosh, McDonalds’ Golden Arches, and the interlocked C’s of Chanel. The three dimensional images are intended to be not so much a criticism of China’s increasingly consumerist culture, but a statement on the situation. The logos have been called ‘modern hieroglyphics’, referring to their communicative power in modern society.
There are a few commonalities in the logos chosen for this exhibit. First, they are the images of large, multinational corporations, and recognized not just by the Chinese but Americans and just about every other nationality on the globe. Second, they are very simple. Simple logo designs tend to be more successful because they can be easily rendered in any media—signs, stationery, and even dirt.
International brands have had a huge effect on China as the country gains political and economic clout almost by the day. Logos are seen as status symbols and modern necessities, as well as emblems of progress and ‘the new China’. However, as Chen’s exhibit points out, these symbols are primarily superficial and do not affect the integrity or substance of Chinese culture.
Logos are so ubiquitous in modern culture (in China and just about everywhere else) that they have become part of the landscape. That is one of the lessons of this art exhibit. The phenomenon is something that artists and businesspeople alike have to deal with. If you are running a company, you must fight for your logo design to be seen in the mass of marketing that defines our times. While your logo may never be the subject of an international art exhibition, it should be well-known by the customers in your community, however large or small that may be.
This means that your logo must be better than ever. While there was a time when a business could thrive with a great product and excellent customer service, contemporary times demand that your business have a brand that appeals to your target customer and a logo design that represents this brand simply, perfectly, and visually.