GOOGLE ARCADE PROCESS - Part 2

See Part 1 here

TYPOGRAPHY:

I wanted the type to have that retro game title feeling, line Zaxxon or Dig-Dug. It needed to be custom and done in a style that complimented the rest of the art.

I figured doing the type would be cinch. Google is notoriously lax about their logo, right? Just look at all the Google Doodles that beat the crap out of their brand. I started developing a bunch of custom type treatments that I thought looked like retro games. For instance these two.

It turns out Google isn't lax about their brand at all. Re-typesetting their name in any other typeface is strictly verbotten. No matter what I tried it was rejected by the brand police. However, it turns out you can replace letters with images. So in the end I replaced all the letters with images. It wasn't the game title I was originally looking to do, but it kept with the retro gaming look a whole lot better than the actual Google logo which wouldn't have matched the rest of the art.

THE REAL TYPOGRAPHIC PROBLEM:

Google created these machines in order to give them away as awards. Instead of trophies or plaques, companies that created award winning online advertising would get one of these in their lobby. Pretty cool right? At the onset of the project they hadn't nailed down the name of the award yet. I was expecting something like The Webby, or the Addy awards. Turns out they came up with The Stuff You Click On Awards. Deliberately long titles are funny, and that's why they did it. However, typographically it was a problem. Games have short punchy names. Pac Man, Galaga, Battlefield. Not The Game Where You Drive Tanks Around A Maze And Shoot At Each Other. Fitting all of that verbiage on the side of the cabinet would take up most of the space, and generally the longer the name the less you can mess with the type because you need to maintain legibility.

I eventually worked out a solution similar to what worked for Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. I used different levels of typography within the word mark itself. Additionally I placed the name of the award only on the kick plate on the front of the machine. On the sides we went with my Google type.

Google wanted their real logo to appear on white somewhere on the machine, so I relinquished the marquee to their branding. As with most cases of applied corporate branding it doesn't stylistically match with the rest of the graphics or fit the space particularly well. But I was already pushing my luck with the logo police, so I gave up that real estate in spite of the fact that graphically it breaks the retro game illusion.

Note, we did wind up having to update those marquees with the new logo after the machines were already finished.

GOTCHA! JOURNALISM

We live in an era when all the information that has ever existed is now at our fingertips. While this serves as a great resource for inspiration and a deep well for plagiarism, it also serves as an endless wellspring for annoying gotcha journalism. Recently Facebook has light up with posts about the Airbnb logo being found in an old logo book.

There are three ways this kind of thing happens:

1) It was a lift. It's very tempting when flipping though an old design book or the internet to spot your solution already fully formed and ready to go. Instead of going through the painful process of creating something from nothing, you can start the process 90% finished and simply brush up the colors and shape. This is a bad idea. Not only is it intellectually lazy, but you're gonna get caught. That said, people do it ALL THE TIME. And not just with logos. The hardest part of any design process is the concept and initial form development. Some designers and artists have made whole careers out of lifting stuff and most of us have tried it at least once. Much of the advertising you see consists entirely of reusing other people's ideas, songs, and images.

 LEFT: My Edward Sharpe poster, 2012 RIGHT: Larnake Art Festival, 2015   

LEFT: My Edward Sharpe poster, 2012
RIGHT: Larnake Art Festival, 2015

 

2) It was "inspired by" the original. This is not the case here, as the two designs pretty much match. But every artist and designer knows exactly what I mean when I say that sometimes you see something and it inspires you to make something similar. That's how art works. Almost nothing is created in a vacuum. The goal here is to be inspired, but then create work that no longer looks like the original. Want to draw with squares like Piet Mondrian? Awesome, go nuts. But don't just make a grid of yellow, blue, and red. Do something else with the idea.

 Picasso and the Cubists were inspired by African art. LEFT: Pablo Picasso, 'Head of a Woman', 1907 (oil on canvas) RIGHT: Dan tribal mask from West Africa

Picasso and the Cubists were inspired by African art.
LEFT: Pablo Picasso, 'Head of a Woman', 1907 (oil on canvas)
RIGHT: Dan tribal mask from West Africa

 LEFT: My Ski Colorado poster, 2012 RIGHT: Johnny Cupcakes T shirt, 2015 I’m on the fence about this one. Obviously they didn’t just trace my design. On the other hand, the entire concept, layout, angles and textures are all remarkably similar to mine. Inspired by or ripped-off? My design was obviously inspired by vintage travel posters, which was what the client asked for.

LEFT: My Ski Colorado poster, 2012
RIGHT: Johnny Cupcakes T shirt, 2015
I’m on the fence about this one. Obviously they didn’t just trace my design. On the other hand, the entire concept, layout, angles and textures are all remarkably similar to mine. Inspired by or ripped-off? My design was obviously inspired by vintage travel posters, which was what the client asked for.

3) It was simply a coincidence. There are no new shapes in the world. Let me be clear about that. All the shapes and colors already exist. Sometimes you can combine them in novel ways, but 99.99% of the time if you dig back far enough you can find pretty much the same thing somewhere else. For example:

 TOP LEFT: Beats by Dre logo 2012 TOP RIGHT: A logo I made in 1998 for a now defunct tech company, nearly 15 years before the Dre logo BOTTOM LEFT AND RIGHT: Old logos from the 1960's out of a logo book

TOP LEFT: Beats by Dre logo 2012
TOP RIGHT: A logo I made in 1998 for a now defunct tech company, nearly 15 years before the Dre logo
BOTTOM LEFT AND RIGHT: Old logos from the 1960's out of a logo book

In the end the issue is a little more complicated than simply pointing a finger and saying "You stole that!" Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. But the internet isn't known for it's sense of nuance, is it?