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Guardian Gives Shape To Obama's Words

Art, Graphic Design

Posted by Patrick Burgoyne, 19 January 2009, 15:45    Permalink    Comments (25)

Expect Obama-mania in the media over the next couple of days as Inauguration Day approaches – 'the nearest America will come to a coronation,' as one wag has put it. In one of the more CR-relevant tie-ins, tomorrow's Guardian G2 section will feature excerpts from a selection of speeches by Almost President Obama as interpreted by a mixture of designers and illustrators

Introducing it all is this cover by David Carson

Contributors inside include Sean Freeman

Peter Horridge

Jonathan Barnbrook

Mario Hugo

And Paula Scher

There is also to be a contribution from Alan Kitching but, as I write this, G2 art director Richard Turley has just emailed to say "we just received the Alan Kitching but it's still wet (!) so can't be scanned..... not sure what we're going to do about it yet other than send the work experience into the toilets to hold it under the hairdryer... guess that demonstrates the kind of timescales we operate to in newspapers." So that one may not appear.

Under Turley and deputy art director Jo Cochrane, the use of illustration in The Guardian's G2 section has been a consistent highlight - not just for special projects such as this Christmas cover by Yulia Brodskaya

but also in the regular contributor pages. David Foldvari's dark, sometimes menacing style is the perfect counterpart for the black humour of the regular Charlie Brooker column on Mondays

while the likes of David Hughes, Belle Mellor and a host of other illustrators - some established, some new - set G2 very much apart from its broadsheet competitors.

The New York Times has long been lauded for its use of illustration on the Op Ed pages. The Guardian's G2 section deserves to be placed up alongside it for its consistent excellence.

Update: Looks like the work experience person did a good job with the dryer - here's the Alan Kitching illustration in today's paper

And the G2 cover


love the second to last piece. great type.
Shelby White
2009-01-19 19:32:04

We have at least 4 more years of obama-mania. I don't know what to expect but hopefully he fulfills his promises.
Logo Design
2009-01-19 20:31:05

Am looking forward to seeing Tuesday's Guardian, visit DesignYak to see a the best of Brand Obama -
Steve Leard
2009-01-20 00:10:44

So Alan Kitchings' work did dry in time, Hurrah! :-)
Ian C
2009-01-20 11:10:49

these graphics are a bit dated. the paula scher one in particular in bollocks.
ray jay
2009-01-20 18:02:05

I second ray jay. Mario Hugo aside, we're looking at the words of Barack Obama dressed up in the graphics of Bush Snr. Rudy Giuliani springs to mind for some reason ?-|
honest joe
2009-01-20 18:41:47

ray jay & honest joe - it's so easy to bitch about other people's work. i hear it mostly from designers who sit around moaning a lot and never doing anything productive. think graphics in the mainstream media is boring and dated? stop whining and make something better then. simple. let's see what you got.
2009-01-20 21:15:43

I should also say that my disappointment doesn't extend to Foldvari or the very impressive and refreshing Yulia Brodskaya; the latter making these journeymen look like they've been exhumed from a medieval crypt, disembalmed, and asked what century it is.

Dancu: This work is neither mainstream nor new wave. It was once in vague before being carried off to sea and swallowed up in a yawn. It seems the Guardian in their dearth of imagination are scouring the sea floor for want of it.
honest joe
2009-01-20 23:42:03

hooray, dancu for president : ) somebody is at last talking sense
2009-01-21 00:07:49

honest joe, remember the guardian readership is a broad church of ages, what you have in the obama stuff is a range of ages and styles, and considering mr obama is pushing 50 himself, getting members of his peer group, whose you may not appreciate yet, to submit work is maybe not such a dumb idea?

im not a huge fan of all of this work, but deriding the work by claiming its neither 'mainstream or new wave' (whatever the shizz you mean by that) is to reveal a rather limited understanding of the task at hand.
2009-01-21 11:18:03

So which will it be my confused friend? The art direction is for Obama or it's for the diverse readership you have so kindly enlightened me on? My comments are to say -- I repeat more candidly -- that these works are outmoded; they are irrelevant; they are superficial; they are distracting; they are in this case an indictment of the Guardian's shortsighted art direction. Is this the best illustration or design we deign offer? Excuse me for pleading a positive NO. Yes we can do better. Yes I can demand that without giving you a fucking CV. I'm a reader.
honest joe
2009-01-21 15:01:36

think you need to calm down a bit mr honest joe. youre not making much sense.
they are pretty pictures. get over it.
2009-01-21 15:30:31

Dadif earns an A* for Apathy
honest joe
2009-01-21 17:26:16

honest joe - you're still bitching without much backup. nobody's asking for a cv, the point is that if you think better design and illustration should be published, and this stuff is not good enough, why not do something constructive towards that, rather than sitting there and whining? nobody is forcing you to be a 'reader', if you don't like what's going on with the state of graphic design, do something to change it.

it's the same as eating your mum's dinner and whining about how bland it tastes. don't like it? nobody's forcing you to eat it - you're free to cook something better yourself - or at least help her with the shopping.

you clearly feel passionate enough to complain about it, so you must have a decent knowledge of contemporary graphic design and illustration. so apart from complaining - what are you actually doing to improve things?
2009-01-21 22:43:07

Your dinner metaphor has more holes in it than a pair of my socks.

Let's keep this simple:

Is this the best graphic design or illustration has to offer?

We have Carson fresh from the surf scribbling out his mid-90's scrawl, Horridge in a Hallmark tribute, Barnbrook riding himself again, and as for Scher, do me a favour? This is sub-intern work. She can be an astonishing creative but what on earth is this regurgitated typecase? It's as if calarts, cranbrook and the wave of 90's freeform typographics never went away. It's an irrelevant anachronism.

This is a place of discussion not a place to settle arguments by cock size. If it makes you feel better, I have a tiny penis.

"I knew it!"
honest joe
2009-01-22 14:15:46

youre a very frustrated, and lets face, not very clever, young man, and for one so impressed with your own opinions you appear to have a very a crushingly limited understanding about design. its impressive this project seems to have arisen such powerful feelings within you, but maybe now its time to switch the computer off and go do something else now.

i have a huge penis by the way.
2009-01-22 14:53:17

Seems to me that honest joe is enjoying being a big fish in a small forum.

I appreciate your point, that perhaps as a nation, collectively, we have more talent to offer, but as it is, the Guardian is one of the few mainstream media outlets that actively supports the creative industries. I didn't see an article like this in the Sun. If you think you can do better and revolutionise the future of graphic design, please be my guest. If not, stop hiding behind a pseudonym and whining on a niche blog.
lying steve
2009-01-22 15:01:44

you're not answering my question. i understand your criticism and actually happen to agree with you that there's a lot of outdated design out there, my point is simply that sitting there criticising it as opposed to doing something about it will achieve nothing apart from make you sound like an art student with a chip on his shoulder. the guardian never claim to present "the best graphic design or illustration can offer", they are a national newspaper and this is not their main responsibility.

nevertheless, if you look around, the guardian comissions and publishes a huge amount of work by new designers and illustrators, FAR more than any other national newspaper, and for that they should be commended. without them, the british press would be a far more bland and boring place. if you feel they are not doing a good job, you are free to present them with your -or anyone else's - work, and make a change. nobody is forcing you to put up with bad design, in fact in my experience, the main reason behind the lack of innovative design in the uk is that people spend all their time bitching and moaning but contribute nothing of any value towards change. Make something better, help those who are making something better, do something constructive instead of complaining. Once again, it's very simple - if you don't like it, it's within your means to change it.

ps. i'm sorry to hear about your penis size. mine is enormous and ladies flock around it in awe.
2009-01-22 15:32:57

Its great to see illustration used like this in The Guardian, wish I'd bought a copy now! Interestingly in the news, many commentators have noted that the speech didn't contain much in the way of stand out lines that will become timeless quotes. How exactly could they make such a bold claim just a few hours after the speech had finished?
2009-01-22 16:32:07

If you look at a lot of Obama's speeches they are a little prosaic. His brilliant skills as an orator gild the words as almost poetic. Quite the contrary to Elizabeth Alexander's flat delivery of unremarkable and supposed verse (How dare I comment! What are my qualifications!?). I'm at sixes wondering how they can claim that also. As an aside, I thought the piety on show was obscene. They swear to preserve the constitution, including the separation of church and state, and then rapturously thank the Lord for all that has passed politically. I suppose it's too much to ask for a black, atheist president all at once! I did think his insistence on swearing by his full name was at once a subtle and powerful gesture.

lying steve:
I did say my disappointment is with this particular project though I perhaps should have made it clear that in fact I think the Guardian generally do a great job in commissioning creatives. New comment rule: praise praise, censor dissent.

My opinions are just that. Your suppositions are just that. It makes me laugh how the self-given authority of other masked commentators think they have the right to demand profile of another. In all cases, it's quite irrelevant and an embarrassing form of defense.

I'm only some of those things ;-)

Now, back to doing something constructive: I'm building a school for blind orphans.
honest joe
2009-01-22 17:43:37

I think I like Mario Hugo's the best. He has the best use of type.

I was inspire, so I made my own too:
Benjamin Joseph Jancewicz
2009-02-06 15:39:40

I think, irrespective of whether you like the styles is whether the style chosen is relevant to what it's saying. Which most of them really aren't. Which is a shame.

I also know, however, that at least two of the above illustrators got about 2 days notice on them and that, having worked with The Guardian, that's pretty much par for the course so maybe just a little more forethought should have been implemented by the team behind the article.
Words are Pictures
2009-03-04 12:58:57

Good for you, David Carson. You're now 1 of 43,458,210 designers who've added an Obama poster to their Obama temple. You're truly unique.
2009-03-27 06:47:27

Hi!!! well Mr. Carson i love your style, i´m a graphic design student from Argentina.
2009-04-01 13:28:03

As for me it was only one year of Obama-mania and that os great that it's overed and normalized.
2011-07-26 16:10:08

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