Gimme Shelter (from this logo)

I wasn’t around in 1971, but I can still pick out the iconic ‘tongue and lips’ logo that the Rolling Stones introduced that year on their album, Sticky Fingers. The Stones have been going strong (arguably) since then, and the logo has stuck with them, even being a focal point of their 40th anniversary tour and “Best of” release, 40 Licks.

Here we are 50 years later, and while the logo itself has been overlaid with just about everything you can imagine (flags, rainbows, sports, etc.) Mick Jagger himself decided it was time for a special look to commemorate a half century of music.

So who did Mick Jagger commission to get this done? None other than Shepard Fairey, the artist behing the iconic OBEY and Obama ‘HOPE’ images.

I guess I just don’t get it. Sure, the whole idea behind the original logo was to embrace (aside from Mick’s mouth,) the Stones’ anti-authoritarian attitude which definitely fits in with Fairey’s works, but that’s about as far as it goes. When I look at the two logos next to each other, it just drives me a bit crazy. On the one hand, I think it’s a waste of Shepard Fairey’s talents to be tweaking a logo ever so slightly, adding a few lines and some words. On the other hand, it seems like a waste of money for the Stones to choose an artist of that caliber to make those changes. Great, you got a giant in the art world to update your logo. But does this scream “Shepard Fairey” to you? It could have been produced by anyone. The logo was iconic already – having an artist who is known for making iconic images touch it up doesn’t do anything.

“Hey Jackson Pollack, I spilled some white paint on the floor out back. Could you go spill a bit more for me? Just stick to white; don’t want to change it too much… I think I’ve got a good thing going.”

Sure, as someone involved with a business I’d love the chance to make tons of money by barely changing someone else’s work (especially something as high profile as this!). But as a graphic designer, it’s also a practice that really drives me crazy. Like I said, Shepard Fairey is a great artist, but his skills bring nothing to the table with such a (seemingly) mundane task as this. It’s a ‘redesign’ that could have been done by a thousand other up-and-comers, and I guess that’s what I would have preferred to see as opposed to going with the big name because it’s a big name.

I’m not even that big a fan of the design. Now I don’t know if Shepard or Mick are really to blame (or a whole slew of agents, execs, and the like) and who knows maybe I’m alone, but it isn’t doing it for me. The 50 as an S and O is a nice touch, but the sacrifices made with the rest of the type in order to center it at the top just do not fit. You’ve got 5 words in 4 different fonts, not even including the numbers.

I could rant forever, but I think I’ve said my piece. Mick, you guys made great music and good for you all for still going at it. Shepard, you make great art still. You should both keep doing what you’re doing, but as far as this little collab, I’m afraid it’s a bust.

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