Island Life by David Slack


Anyone can do design.

Continuing today's open mic theme, I'd like to also introduce a designer friend of mine, Fraser Gardyne. His chosen topic: the logo competition they've just cooked up for the Auckland Super City. Personally I'm uneasy about the diversionary bread and circus dimension to the thing, but his objection is professional.


If the council is expecting graphic design to be the product of a public competition from folk from all walks of life, then why not apply the same concept to other public works? Let’s have the public design carparks and road networks etc? Could it be because those works need experienced, professional, trained experts? Just like graphic design actually.

It is a widely held public perception, 'anyone can do design'. To create a logo that is successful and workable takes talent, training and experience. It also takes process, and this isn't it. As recently evidenced by the Queens Wharf fiasco.

Sadly this is another instance where politics gets in the way of the best result for the long term working objectives of the new Auckland Council. The ATA have shown a total lack of understanding and respect for our visual communications industry. The considered and professional use of our highly skilled graphic designers has been recognised by enlightened business and public bodies as a prime success motivator for their activities.

An effective logo comes about through a brief. Effectively there is none in this case. "We're looking for a logo that's compelling, elegant and compact", any logo brief could say that. The design process normally goes from a briefing stage, through research and development of initial ideas, presentation to and feedback from the client, through to design development and approval of the logo. This agreed logo is then developed and applied and guidelines for it's consistent ongoing use are developed.

Good graphic design comes about through a logical, considered process and the countries best practitioners are well qualified and equal to the best in their profession globally. Practically, logos need to be able to work across a wide range of media, and need clear guidelines. Yet, a panel of celebs, many of whom I know and respect in their various fields of practice, are being asked to judge the results of a wide open public competition into which no self respecting designer would enter. Why would you give away your most valuable asset, your creativity and experience, through a faulted process with little chance of success and no control or ownership of your ideas?

Fraser Gardyne.

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