01 July 2012


by Andy Weddington
Sunday, 01 July 2012

"Beauty in art is often nothing but ugliness subdued." Jean Rostand


Mr. Webster defines art as "the use of skill and imagination in the production of things of beauty."

"Things of beauty"? But is not beauty solely in the eye of the beholder? Yes, of course.

So, along that train of thought, is there bad art? Or just beautiful art that is bad in the eyes of some?

I'll just leave it that there's bad art and take up the argument another day.

There are two core elements to all art--good or bad--whether talking about paintings, clothes, cars, furniture, furnishings, jewelry, et cetera: Shape and color. All art is as simple as shape and color.

And it is the arrangement of shape and color that moves us to think, to feel, and to act, or to not think, feel, or act.

Some art triggers rejoice. Some art causes nausea. And some day I'll develop these ideas further.

But for today the focus is on art and the campaigns for the presidency.

The contrast between the personalities running for the office of president could not be more glaring.

The challenger a proven business man. Successful, time and again. A philanthropist.

The incumbent, as life's records are sealed, of not much substance and, through word and deed, self-absorbed.

Perhaps a harsh contrast but it is what it is--the impressions made and left by each man.

And those most basic differences between the two men is reflected in the simple logos depicting their respective campaigns.

The Romney logo...

Presents a message of the election being about the people and America. And that message starts with the clever design of the uppercase "R" and ends with the word "AMERICA."

Now the "R" may be a takeoff on the Girl Scouts design but so what--not a bad outfit to be subliminally linked to. And note the flow of red, white, and blue--it mirrors our lexicon when speaking of our colors; red, white, and blue. The words roll off the tongue. Also note the graceful flow of simple, generic profiles of humans shaping the letter "R"--the cohesive letter implies teamwork.

And the catchy design of that lead letter "R" has a subtle message of leadership--as the rest of his surname follows.

In short, the Romney campaign's visual is a simple, powerful message: Romney will lead and pull America together--believe it.

The tagline "Believe in America" has been used before. So what. It's effective. It inspires. It challenges. It bonds. It's about "us."

Whomever the artist(s) coming up with the Romney design knew what they were doing. And Romney recognized it represented his message.

Skillful. Imaginative. Beautiful. Brilliant!

All about America

On the other hand, the opponent.

The Obama logo...

It's a mess. It's awful.

It was designed by Sender LLC (surprise, surprise, a Chicago-based outfit) for the 2008 campaign. And it's being used again for 2012. To branding, though recognizable, that decision will prove disastrous.

The essence of the design was to insinuate a rising sun and a new day. In 2008 the candidate was an unvetted unknown sold to America as some sort of superior being. But that is not the case in 2012. If anything, now having made a name for himself over the course of four years, Mr. Obama is seen as nothing more than human. And maybe an inferior one at that (if only his records weren't sealed).

So in 2012 does the logo come across as a new day? Or does it reinforce what America has come to understand about Mr. Obama--that it's all about him?

The blue, white, and red design does not ring of the American brand red, white, and blue. The design looks foreign. The rising sun concept clear but mindful of Japan's rising sun. Or something else not of America. A new day? Hardly. So, there's confusion of message. Other than it still being all about Obama.

Who knows what the designer(s), and approvers, were thinking. Whatever. It certainly appealed, twice, to the man who thinks highly of himself.

From an artist's perspective, it's a loser in shape and color. The design is all wrong. As to the presidency, it shouts self and not country. As such, it's a loser in message.

In contrast to the Romney "R," the "O" is more abstract which brings to mind a fitting thought by Al Capp, "Abstract art: a product of the untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered."

Though plenty of ideas for an effective logo, I'll not offer. Nope. Never.

All about Obama

In summary...

Shape and color.

It takes skill and imagination to combine the two in an arrangement, a design, that stirs emotion--whether talking still lifes, landscapes, figures, portraits, abstracts, or presidential logos. It's as simple as that. 

The Romney logo oozes America. Each element has been carefully considered to portray unity, leadership, and strength.


The Obama logo is bad art. And it is bad politics.

The "O" is a closed system--nothing in and nothing out. A hole. It signifies self. Certainly Mr. Obama, its beholder, loves it. Otherwise he'd not have settled on it for two campaigns.


At least he and his team will break even--win one, lose one.

And, interestingly enough, a loser in our culture is associated with zero--"O".

Let the record show...

Post Script

Mr. Webster's definition of art, I think, too restrictive. Take a look around. Everything is art. Everything is shape and color, and the arrangement, the design, thereof. Life is art!

Posted 07 August 2012 -- complementary commentary: http://acoloneloftruth.blogspot.com/2012/08/mr-obamas-punctuation-goof-period.html

Posted 14 August 2012 -- complementary commentary:

Posted 17 August 2012 -- complementary commentary:

Posted 21 August 2012 -- complementary commentary:

Posted 27 August 2012 -- complementary commentary:

Posted 03 September 2012 -- Obama's Logo - The Gift That Keeps on Giving

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