Logo Design & Frank Olinsky

Lately I have been doing a great deal of logo design (two new ones will be up in the Magnetic State portfolio soon). I often reflect on the stories behind successful logos like the Citibank logo (designed by Paula Scher, you can read the story behind it in her book Make It Bigger) and the MTV logo, designed by Frank Olinsky and his now defunct firm Manhattan Design. The talented Mr. Olinsky is a former Parsons professor of mine and you will doubtlessly recognize some of his work including the covers of Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation.

The story behind the design of the MTV logo is posted here. It's an exciting story about a designer's dream job. Frank's brainstorm process with his colleagues sounds like it was a true team effort. The logo became a ubiquitous symbol for the revolutionary music channel. The logo itself was revolutionary because it had no standard 'corporate colors' and could be dressed up differently as long as the basic outlines were preserved (much like the Google logo is treated now). According to Frank's tale, "knowing that many animators, designers, ad agencies, etc. were going to be working with the logo made [the Manhattan Design team] think how, just like rock music always changes, the MTV logo should also. This was a concept that had never been used on a logo before."

One cool thing I bumped into on Frank's blog was LP Cover Lover (he did their logo), a blog about record covers. I dare you to look at this record and not murmur "ho-lee shiiiiit" like I did.

Here is a Spraygraphic interview with Mr. Olinsky.


Dan Redding said...

Also here is a very thorough article covering the birth of the MTV logo (including an image of a rejected predecessor). This article, originally published in 1982 in Cablevision magazine, was written by Jean Bergantini Grillo and is reposted here at a blog called World's Best Logos & Brands.

Frank Olinsky said...

Hey Dan, thanks for the kind words.

Dan Redding said...

Thanks for stopping by, Frank! I thought your Threadless design was cool - you should print it up yourself - that's what I did.