The internet is chock-a-block with the essential rules for logo design, but what about the essential rules for logo application?
For a contemporary graphic design exhibition at Gonggansail gallery in Mapo-gu, Seoul, curator and graphic designer Jieun Yang has explored exactly that. Yang’s visual identity standards manual for the Open Recent Graphic Design (ORGD) exhibition tracks the do’s and don’ts with meticulous detail. While intended purely for the ORGD design, the instructions also serve as a helpful illustration of what’s important when a implementing a logo more generally. For example:
- Don’t warp a logo.
- Don’t add visual effects to it.
- Don’t blur it out.
- Don’t rotate it.
- Don’t alter its proportions.
- And please, please don’t cover it up.
The book verges on the absurd in a way that anyone who has ever created an extensively detailed standards manual will relate to. Through continual application of the exhibition’s logo on a variety of photographs, colored backgrounds, and promotional spaces (including trucks, planes, a space ship, and yes, the planet Saturn), it explores the value of a logo beyond its iconographic use. “When we create a logo today, we of course create a variety of applications for continuous promotion,” says Yang.
The ORGD exhibition as a whole sets out to explore topics that concern contemporary graphic design. For example Heriz O, who is interested in printing techniques, explores the invisible rules that guide screen printing. Jeong-eun Seong, through the design of a t-shirt, critiques consumer-friendly activism by splicing the visual grammar of feminist merchandise and corporate logos. Other elements of the show explore digital archiving, and the website itself is both a functional platform and an investigation of the archival theme.
Yang’s identity manual, too, explores the contemporary designer’s role in distilling an identity not just into a symbol, but crafting a flexible graphic for a range of commercial products, signs, and uses. Someone can follow the instructions and use the visual system themselves, or someone can read this book as a “design joke,” as Yang notes. With tongue-in-cheek flair, the exhibition’s press release states that the standard manual serves to provide“technical information and guidance to ORGD marketing departments and partners as well as external contractors to visually implement identity.”
While most of the products detailed in the Yang’s standards manual aren’t yet in existence (except for the party bags), Yang hope that one day they will be—and that the book, exhibition, and ORGD group as a whole will continue to promote discussion about the state of contemporary graphic design. The logo itself is a “coat of arms” symbolically referencing attributes that the ORGD project seeks to exemplify: wisdom, glory, splendour, power over the seemingly mundane, new life sprouting from the old, peace, truth, worthy ambition, and “great battles or tournaments.” You know, just those day-to-day pursuits of the humble graphic designer.