.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;} Making Sense: e-Digest of Brand Thinking

Friday, August 26, 2005

Steal This Brand

I’m sorry for the long delay in posting this. The vertebrae in my neck decided it would be fun to compress themselves and pinch a few of my nerves while they were at it. I’m on the mend now.

I’ve been a loyal subscriber to
WIRED for years, but sometimes the magazine gets on my nerves. They have a way of elevating the most mundane thing into something that’s creative, cool, and futuristic. Take the piece Eric Steuer wrote about Shepard Fairey and Rick Klotz—two young “remix entrepreneurs.”

The pair’s design formula is to appropriate iconic brands and drop them into a new context. Their Tide detergent box combined with the word “Jive” is a good example. Why did they do this? According to Klotz, they are acting on the same impulse that drives hip hop producers to use samples in their music. “It's about taking something you like and putting your own twist on it. If I take a logo and make a shirt out of it, I'm saying, Hey, this graphic that you see all the time is pretty cool looking if you draw out the right elements.”

So now, it seems, every corporate identity is fair game. Young entrepreneurs like Shepard Fairey and Rick Klotz are making money with other companies’ logos. But is that so bad? Look what Andy Warhol did with some Campbell’s Soup Cans and green Coca-Cola bottles (By the way,Coke owns one of Warhol's Coke bottles.

Would like to hear some other views on this.

Well, interestingly enough, Fairey's style is but an revisionist idea of the old Russian Constructivist Propaganda Art. With all due respect, he did not invent anything. If at all, I think he re-invented it to use modern cultural iconography and present contemporary political messages (quite efficiently, in my opinion.)

Though it seems he's continuing in this direction now with mass consumerism and commercial subject matter, I feel the message is not as original as it once was. Remix entrepreneur, sure, but is it really something "new" per se?

If it comes to making the world aware of political something via art, I prefer Fairey's old approach or the now (in)famous Banksy's.

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