Every last thing about Canada’s 150th anniversary logo was controversial, and it started long before the winning design was made public.
The growling started as far back as 2013, when it came to light that the feds had been focus-grouping five possible designs.
The focus groups didn’t spot a clear winner, so organizers made a decision that made lots of people furious, for different reasons: the logo would be chosen from a design submitted by a student, and the winner would be paid $5,000.
Inevitably, this enraged professional graphic designers, who were shut out of the most public design decisions to be made in Canada in years.
Graphic Designers of Canada called the contest “exploitative.” Professional designers, who were ineligible, submitted 32 proposed logos anyway to the150logo.ca, a site set up to “prove that good design does exist in Canada … as Canadian designers we believe that Canada deserves better than what is being offered.”
And many saw $5,000 as exploitative, saying the work was worth far more. The Association of Registered Graphic Designers argued that “competitions such as this … exploit students — and all designers — by asking them to spend time and effort creating work that, unless selected, will never be recognized or compensated for.” Hundreds vented on Twitter using the #mytimehasvalue hashtag.
Nonetheless, a committee sorted through 473 submissions, came up with a shortlist of 17, and presented them to then-Heritage Minister Shelly Glover for a final decision.
Glover chose a design created by Ariana Cuvin, a 19-year-old student at the University of Waterloo:
With that buildup, it wasn’t surprising that an actual decision led to more and noisier controversy.
(In fairness to Curvin, there are only so many ways to stylize a maple leaf, and it’s a judgement call whether a resemblance to the 1967 logo is a bad thing.)
Ash also disliked all of the other 16 entries on the shortlist, saying that one “appears as if it is in shock,” another was “whimsical and flighty” and another was “disjointed and unbalanced.”
Well, everyone’s a critic, and that includes you. What do you think of the shortlist? Did Glover’s ministerial pen pass over something special? Take the interactive survey below to have your say, and don’t forget the comments section.
In the interactive below, you can see the full list of entries (in the black-and-white format they were released to us in originally, in response to an access-to-information request.)
(Order of entries is randomized.)
This document, released under access-to-information laws, shows all the Canada 150 logo entries that made it past the initial cut.
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