Canada Modern is actually described as existing pretty much for that purpose. You know, to preserve, document, educate and inspire but here’s the hook.
You know what I like about Canadians? They still have the Queen on their money and many still drink English tea. What really puts Canada on the map as far as I’m concerned is their ongoing desire to preserve something that hints at a nationalistic reminder of their impact on the rest of the digital world.
Hey, they even have a TLD (.ca) that is reserved just for Canadians to register domain names with. In fact, if you can’t provide Canadian residency, you can’t get one.
But I’ve veered slightly off course.
Back to the preserving of national heritage and all things Canadian. There is a physical and digital archive identified as Canada Modern. It focuses on the development of graphic design in Canada between the period of 1960 and 1985. It was at about the time when the American influence was getting so strong that Canadian culture was at risk. Not that it ever was, but with the ongoing influx of American TV and American culture and history taught in Canadian schools, something had to happen. So the most logical thing to do was build on the Canadian identity.
Canada Modern is actually described as existing pretty much for that purpose. You know, to preserve, document, educate and inspire but here’s the hook: “…to build a new and richer understanding (are you sitting down?) of what can clearly be seen as a seminal point in Canada’s development as a nation…”
Keep in mind Canada’s centennial year was 1967. Compared to many other nations they are still young’ uns. But what exactly is contained in this warehouse of Canadian graphic and design culture? That, my friend, is a good question.
Canada Modern contains typography, identity design and graphic communication. It is far more than a badge of honour. It is more or less a time capsule of development back in the days long before CGI and PhotoShop. It documents the creative minds and the products that came from them. It houses a collection of iconic designs that appeared on postage stamps, advertising and marketing tools of the day.
It also demonstrates that graphic design does not have to be complicated to be effective.
One fine example is the Olympics logo designed for the 1976 games in Montreal. Designer George Huel says himself that the design he created – a letter M for Montreal formed out of an extension of the five Olympic rings – was well, simple and obvious. He was also a bit amazed that the design had not been used at previous Olympic events in cities with the same first letter (Mexico in 1968, Munich in 1972).
Spoken like a true Canadian. Polite and a bit surprised that the simplicity was not noticed prior to when Huel used it.
That is more or less the lesson here.
Graphic design does not have to be complicated, multi-layered nor extremely detailed. Don’t over think because often less is more.
The Canada Modern website is a great place to visit because it does contain oodles of content that will educate and inspire you. You will find trademarks, logos, designs, profiles on the designers and articles documenting the development of the graphic design age in Canada. If you are searching for a definitive resource, Canada Modern is worthy of bookmarking.
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