The other day while I was looking at the ol’ Star Spangled Banner I thought to myself, it’s also spangled with stripes, so why isn’t it called the Stripe Spangled Banner? And then I thought, why do we ever call it the Flag, which is the most boring term of all for the national symbol? So, here is a list of nicknames I’ve adopted for the red, white and blue. Happy Independence Day, everybody!
- Broadstripe & Brightstar’s Excellent Adventure
- The White Represents Sarah Palin and the Red Represents Michael Moore and the Blue Field is All the Rest Of Us Waiting for Them to Shut Up
- Suck it, Yellow, You Symbolizer of Stupid Stuff
- Navajo Nation (NOT! HAHAHA!!)
Speaking of Olympic rings (the kind that are not made of coffee) – when I was a kid, I always thought that the five Olympic rings were symbolic of five specific ideals: peace and unity and sportsmanship and things like that. In reality, the rings are only representative of the five continents that participate in the games. But I still like to think of the rings as a kind of Venn diagram where Olympian ideals intersect. Kind of like this:
A few years ago I stumbled upon (electronically, because somebody left it right there in the middle of the internet) the blog of the British illustrator Michael Renouf, who challenged himself to post one drawing a day, more or less. He stated that they were supposed to be silly, with no particular theme.
He made me question my definition of “silly,” because these drawings are expertly crafted visual puns. Some are topical or illustrate a certain editorial idea, some are purely for fun, and a lot of them require a rewarding second look in order to spy the subtle “joke.” But they’re almost all clever and inventive, especially considering how many he did – several hundred, until pausing in December. Anyone who has tried their hand at illustration or political cartooning knows how hard it is to truly combine familiar images or icons in a fresh way (Bob Staake’s cover for this week’s New Yorker is another example of how to do it right), and so I’ve been amazed at how ingenious and how effortless some of these are. But enough of my yapping. I’ve posted a few random ones below, but you should go to Michael’s blog and spend some time sorting through them yourself.
Click here to view all images
You often hear people say, defensively, that they can’t draw a straight line, as an excuse for not drawing at all. I usually reply that I can’t either: that’s what rulers, or the sides of cereal boxes, are for. Drawing requires looking and thinking and experimenting. If you can do this then the physical process of representing an idea will become immeasurably easier, and you might discover that you don’t even need to draw a straight line. They’re overrated anyway.
The April issue of Print magazine has a graphic representation of the story of Jack and Jill (based on a classic assignment given by Richard Wilde, chair of the Advertising and Graphic Design department at SVA), done by New York-based designer Joe Marianek. The story is told with a single heart shape, using variation and repetition to communicate the essential characters, events, and even emotions of the story (even the “hill” is merely an upside-down heart, enlarged and cropped). It is simple and brilliant:
You’ll want to pick up the issue in order to see the other graphic assignments and solutions, in addition to Marianek’s comments about this particular one. I unwittingly did the same thing a few years ago with this cartoon (below). I arrived at it backwards because I was going for comic effect, but the principle is the same: taking a single symbol and manipulating it in a way that tells a clear story. It could have been accomplished with an even simpler drawing or with photographs. And if I can do it…