Monthly Archives: June 2013

WHY IS THE NEW AMERICAN AIRLINES LOGO SO ABSTRACT?

In Hue’s summer issue (coming out very soon!), John Malozzi, Advertising Design ’96, explained how he, along with his colleagues at FutureBrand, developed American Airlines’ new logo and brand identity. Hue is excited about the new logo, a beakish abstraction penetrating a diagonal line.

American Airlines’ new logo.

But why is it a good logo? Hue turned to Malozzi’s favorite FIT teacher, Eli Kince, associate professor of Communication Design, to talk about American’s logos over the years. Here’s what he said.

“Fine artists were the original graphic designers. They used to call them commercial artists. When logos first came out, they were literal imagery of products that appeared on buildings and on packaging. American’s first logos were examples of commercial art.

American Airlines’ early, quite literal, logos.

“By 1968, the AA logo had equity. It takes time to build familiarity like this, to convince people to believe in and trust your company. When they get familiar with your logo,  you can make it simpler and more abstract. In Massimo Vignelli’s successful 1968 logo, the ‘AA’ was structurally sound, monolithic, beautiful. The blocky shape of the ‘A’s communicated solidity, dependability, safety, and security. Graphically, we see triangles as dangerous, round shapes as warm and fuzzy, blocks as secure. Of course, people want to fly on a solid airline.

The highly recognizable 1968 American Airlines logo by Massimo Vignelli.

“In the computer age, consumers are ready for even more abstraction in logo design. A modern logo isn’t a combination of colors, it’s a combination of energy. You use color and lines to create vibrations. It’s like a relationship between people: after we get to know each other, the energy of who we are begins to show up. After a while we don’t even see each other, and we know each other by energy or spirit. The abstractness of the eagle form coming out of this vertical line, it says direction, it says this airline is going against the grain.”

 

LATE FIT FACULTY MEMBER WORKED WITH EDITH HEAD, JOAN CRAWFORD, OTHER FABULOUS PEOPLE

Hue is sad to report that James Daugherty, who taught Fashion Design-Art and in the Saturday Live program at FIT, died last month. According to Women’s Wear Daily, he was one of the first African-American designers to have his own collection on Seventh Avenue.

A few years ago, Hue interviewed Mr. Daugherty, whose storied career took him deep into Hollywood’s backstage.  He was born in L.A. and got his first job in the film industry sketching for storied costume designer Edith Head on The Ten Commandments. Head, he said, was “a lovely, lovely person, and a perfectionist. It was wonderful to see all her Academy Awards. She came to Saks for one of my trunk shows [years later].”

Daugherty sketched for costume designers Sheila O’Brien and Jean Louis on several Joan Crawford movies, including what Hue thinks is The Campiest Film of All Time, Female on the Beach. “Sheila was nice to me, though Joan was not nice to Sheila; it was like she didn’t respect her. To see Joan Crawford in those gowns, with coats and furs! It was unbelievable—but that’s what she wanted. The first time I met her, she’d just had a face lift. She still had bandages.”

He also worked on Queen Bee. “That one was over-the-top—but it worked.” Hue remembers Daugherty’s eyes twinkling a bit when he said, “What went around the lot was, ‘All you need for Joan is a bed and a bottle of vodka.’ She loved sex!” (Somehow, Hue isn’t surprised.)

Daugherty worked with fabled interior designer Tony Duquette on his costumes for Kismet, sketched for Rita Hayworth, met author Christopher Isherwood and composer Igor Stravinsky. He loved it, he said, but in the 60s, Hollywood began using ready-to-wear clothes for costumes, and he was out of a job.

He came east and worked for designers Bill Blass, James Galanos, and Rudi Gernreich (he and Gernreich had the same birthday) before establishing his own company. It produced elegant sportswear from 1974-1979. (See the WWD obituary for a slideshow, including some of Daugherty’s designs.)

Early on, Daugherty worked on costumes for I Love Lucy. “We had to design things that framed the face,” he said. “That’s why today I like sketching faces. The face comes first.”

 

A TASTE OF MOVIE MAGIC

Hue finds the work of Computer Animation and Interactive Media students utterly delightful. Working mostly alone, they create films of the quality you’d expect in a movie theater. Sean Peterson, CAIM ’13, is no exception. Poppet: No Strings Attached is a gorgeous, amusing piece about a magician, thwarted in his conjurings by his rascally kitty. The animation is so precise, Hue could watch the magician squash and stretch for hours.

Impractical Magic: “Poppet” by Sean Peterson, Computer Animation and Interactive Media ’13.

Long interested in classic Disney cartoons, Peterson got the idea for Poppet after seeing Paperman, the Oscar-winning hand-drawn short that opened for Wreck-It Ralph in 2012. He created 3-D animation set against a still background, augmenting hand-drawn figures with automated techniques to save time. Then he meticulously worked in details like the rim lighting, 1920s-era static, and filmed smoke and dust, using more than 15 layers in the final project.

Peterson hopes to find work in character animation in Hollywood. Based on Poppet, Hue is confident he’ll make a splash—complete with a pool-emptying animated geyser, no doubt.

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