We live in an age when armchair amateur creatives are just as likely to have an opinion on the Olive Garden's rebrand as discerning professionals. Logo redesigns make business news, inspire Twitter freak-outs and even rack up hundreds of comments from sports fans. Maybe it's "Mad Men" or the ease of self-designed logos on SquareSpace, but it seems that everybody today is a design critic.
So, what are actual designers and art directors supposed to do? Many of them keep their heads down and do good work. But Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh, provocateurs and purveyors of quirk, choose a different path. Walsh, famous as much for webcasting her dating life as her design work, and Sagmeister, who takes every seventh year off on sabbatical, recently took on the task of reinterpreting Adobe's logo (among other creatives, too) by creating a five-part game show, where they compete head-to-head.
All five episodes can be viewed online. Sagmeister had a slight lead after the fourth round, but the fate of Adobe's logo and the ultimate winner is determined by the four-person panel of cultural-powerhouse judges. Check out the first episode below and the rest, including the decisive fifth design battle, online:
To see how well this unusual approach to design work matches with Indianapolis' own creative luminaries, we checked in with a few of them to get their perspectives.
Lindsay Hadley, creative director at Young and Laramore:
Leave it to Adobe to remix their logo in the coolest way possible. And it's a natural place for them to play, too -- commission some of the most inventive users of their software to reimagine their mark. Sometimes Sagmeister & Walsh are so creative it makes me curse. It's absurd that Stefan can create something so beautiful in less than five minutes. Blindfolded. And with four design legends literally judging him. It's brilliant. And it's a nice reminder that sometimes giving yourself parameters is good for deign. Next time I'm in a pinch, I'm going to design using oven mitts. Adobe, thanks for the inspiring software and for showcasing the inspiring users of it.
Amy McAdams Gonzales, owner and designer at Amy McAdams Design
I've always thought of Sagmeister, because of his work, as some dark, brooding, Nick Cave-like fella. When I saw him speak at the IMA a couple of years ago, I was surprised to find that he was the exact opposite: silly, goofy and a little self-deprecating. I like those traits in my Austrian-born design idols.
So, I was happy to see him do something so bright and what the old me would have considered uncharacteristically Sagmeister-like. Straight up goofy instead of darkly humored. Candy colored instead of monochromatic. That's not to say he never takes this direction with his work, but it's nice to see someone of such iconic status take himself less than serious.
It was also nice to get a bonus Hische [one of the judges and a lettering superstar].
Aaron Scamihorn, creative at Ronlewhorn Industries
Everything Sagmeister does can come off as self-aggrandizing and egotistically over-the-top, but isn't that why most of what he has done is great? Many designers submitted some very beautiful interpretations of Adobe's new mark, but Sagmeister's is definitely the one we'll remember. It's nothing if not entertaining.
James Sholly, graphic designer at Commercial Artisan
NYC design team Sagmeister & Walsh are well-known for being clothes-free. They notoriously launched their company with a series of nude portraits and provocative pictograms. Although they appear fully clad in their latest endeavor, the unconventional manner in which they approach a design challenge remains the same.
It's silly fun seeing these talented designers using this type of sideways thinking. It's also an interesting way to subvert the conventions of promotional spectator sports like this. I've never thought much about Adobe's logo, but now I'll be disappointed every time I see it if it's not made of cake and Silly String.