I'd never compare the new Strange Up Salem logo to the Mona Lisa, but...
No, wait! I would!
Art is art. Unless it isn't art. But clearly, this logo is. It is an original creation by Ryan James Rhoades of Salem's Reformation Designs.
And moi. (Now that I am an artist of sorts, having collaborated with Ryan on the logo -- not to mention paying for it -- I am going to speak more French; but wear a beret? Non.)
Regarding the Mona Lisa, imagine that it was possible to know what Leonardo da Vinci was thinking when he created his famous painting.
How valuable would it have been to art historians of the future if da Vinci had described the inner muse that led him to fashion his portrait the way he did? Invaluable, of course. Ah, if only da Vinci had a blog.
Which I do!
I thus feel a duty to relate the story behind the creation of this Strange Up Salem logo so that -- months, years, or even centuries from now -- lovers of great visual branding art who recognize the brilliance of one Ryan James Rhoades (and, yes, humble moi) will have a contemporaneous recounting of the creative process that culminated yesterday.
The genesis of this piece of art arose from a lofty motivation: I wanted to be able to wear a Strange Up Salem t-shirt!
And that required an image, a logo.
So I contacted Ryan. He asked me to describe what Strange Up Salem is all about. In my reply I did my best to eff the ineffable. Ryan produced an initial sample logo. It was OK, but not what I wanted.
Then... a crucial moment.
I woke one morning with a logo vision. Actually, several visions. In retrospect, they were pretty lame, design-wise. But since I'm out to stake my claim to a piece of Salem logo/brand design art history, I choose to focus on the single good idea in the rambling email I sent to Ryan.
Leonardo da Vinci had the vision of a woman's enigmatic smile; Brian Hines, moi, had the idea of a rocket ship. But I can't draw or paint, which is one difference between da Vinci and myself that art historians of the future will need to take into account.
So Ryan James Rhoades took the rocket ship ball and ran with it.
Yesterday afternoon we spent an hour or so Skyping away, which mostly consisted of me watching my laptop's screen as Ryan did impressively mysterious PhotoShop stuff to an initial logo image ("mysterious," because I know next to nothing about PhotoShop).
Early on, purple became the core logo color.
Why? Because Ryan ran through various colors, and when purple appeared, I said "I like it!" I told him that recently I bought a bunch of Pentel pens with purple ink. I have a purple Patagonia jacket. My wife likes purple. So would our dog, I'm pretty sure, if she saw color like humans do. So, done, purple it is.
My big creative push was to ask of Ryan, no, demand, that the nose of the rocket ship extend beyond the boundary of the enclosing circle. This just seemed so right.
Salem, to be sufficiently strange, must not be confined. This town needs to soar into creative, vibrant livability. No limits. No constraints. Thrusters on full! (Early on, I told Ryan that I really liked the orange flame.)
We spent quite a bit of time on the rocket ship window/porthole. It needed to be purple, rather than white, to indicate that there was space inside the ship, as well as outside.
I asked Ryan if it would be possible to have a teeny-tiny image of our dog's face looking out the porthole, but pixel-wise this seemed doubtful. Also, I was nine when Laika, the Russian space dog, went into orbit in 1957. Since the journey didn't end well for Laika, I scratched that idea.
Late in the logo finalization process, Ryan contributed a massive creative breakthrough: angling the rocket ship. Until then, it was vertical. As soon as he tilted it, I yelled "Yes! Brilliant! Much more energy!"
So there you have it, art historians of the future -- a synopsis of the story behind the Strange Up Salem logo. This blog post will become increasingly important as Salem is transformed. Here's how I put it in a comment on my Facebook post yesterday.
Whatever progress, whatever successes, whatever improvements in this town's livability, whatever ANYTHING good happens from now until the end of time in this town -- clearly it will have been due to the unveiling of the Strange Up Salem logo, which possesses magical powers to propel our could-be-fairer city into new heights of urban wonderfulness.
Gotta believe, gotta believe.
Ryan uses Society6 for distributing his own creative products, so I signed up with them also. I've ordered several logo'ized Strange Up Salem t-shirts and will model them when they arrive. There's a wide range of Strange Up Salem stuff on Society6.
If you've ever wanted a Strange Up Salem shower curtain, your dream can be fulfilled.