Sarah Morris

Art vs. Design. 12 Artists Chosen to Design London Olympics Posters.

To many, Graphic Design and Illustration have always been considered the bastard stepchild of what is considered fine art. Illustration is not the same as painting, industrial design is not sculpture, and so on. The fact is that while they are both connected via the creative endeavor, they are different. Different yet equal in value on every level. I know that statement is going to piss off a bunch of my fine arts friends, but at the end of the day we all know it is true.

I was once told “You aren’t an artist unless you are self-sustaining at your craft”. That is a fair statement, but I am self-sustaining at my craft. I actually make a pretty good living as a designer, illustrator, motion designer, videographer, editor… Just because the work I do is paid for by a company, business, or publisher, instead of a patron or collector shouldn’t diminish the visual thinking, problem solving, or story telling that goes into a designer or illustrators work.

So why am I on this rant this morning? Because I was rather shocked to read that the Olympic committee  has decided to choose 12 artist to create posters for the 2012 Olympics in London, and not one single graphic designer. (At this point feel free to stop and point at the hideous logo and mascots designed for the games. Follow this with loud laughter.) I am not devaluing the artist that were chosen, and I realize that there is a precedent for choosing (29 artists were commissioned to produce posters for the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. The posters were sold in limited edition bringing in over 2 million Deutschmarks.) I just think it is odd that no graphic designers were chosen, especially when you look at the rich and diverse design talent that is based in London these days.

Artists Tracey Emin, Chris Ofili, Fiona Banner, Michael Craig-Martin, Martin Creed, Anthea Hamilton, Howard Hodgkin, Gary Hume, Sarah Morris, Bridget Riley, Bob and Roberta Smith, and Rachel Whiteread, will each create a single poster that will be on display at the Tate in London as part of the London 2012 Festival. The posters will go on sale this fall, and I am sure they will be a huge success. I just wish they would have commissioned 12 designers and illustrators to create posters as well.