Hope is The Thing with Feathers


There are two quotes I consider when asked about designing television network identities. First, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not taking it anymore,” from the Paddy Chayefsky and Sidney Lumet film, Network (1976). Second, “If the identity system is right for fifteen minutes, you’ve done your job,” from AIGA Medalist Fred Seibert. These quotes refer to the transitory nature of network identities in a fluid media. 

I’ve designed several network identity systems and used both quotes often. Two years ago, I designed an identity system for the UBS Network on the television series Blunt Talk, referencing the network’s name on the Lumet film. To provide a history of the faux network, I designed a timeline of logos for one of the sets. During the research process, I found myself returning to the history of the NBC logo often, reviewing the early radio based and early television logos. Then I fixated on the peacock.
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Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Chair of the undergraduate and graduate Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.

Talking about Blunt Talk on Blunt Talk

Several months ago, my good friend Tristram Shapeero asked me if I'd like to design the identity for the UBS Network. Now the great thing about this is that UBS Network doesn't exist. It's the fictional network on Blunt Talk a new series on Starz, created by Jonathan AmesSeth MacFarlane and Tristram. The series follows Walter Blunt, played by Patrick Stewart, who moves to Los Angeles with the intentions of conquering American nightly cable news with his program, Blunt Talk.

 

The network name, UBS, is an homage to the network in the 1976 movie, Network ("I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore.") This was the first thing I thought about when I received the script, but I tend to hang on to lots of pointless facts. Fortunately, when I sat down with Jonathan, he said this was entirely intentional.

The design solution for the identity is derived from a stained glass window on the Howard Beale Show in the Network movie. If that isn't meta enough, I designed a fictional history of the network from 1935–2015 based on a fragmentary shot of the UBS logo behind Faye Dunaway. The fictional history of the network is built into the set as a corporate wall. 

But one issue keeps me awake at night. The show on Starz is called Blunt Talk. The show on Blunt Talk on the UBS Network is "Blunt Talk". Should my "Blunt Talk" logo be the same logo for the real world Blunt Talk? See, confusing, but fun like a mobius strip. 


Sean Adams

Sean Adams is the Chair of the undergraduate and graduate Graphic Design Program at ArtCenter, founder of Burning Settlers Cabin studio, and on-screen author for LinkedIn Learning/Lynda.com He is the only two term AIGA national president in AIGA’s 100 year history. In 2014, Adams was awarded the AIGA Medal, the highest honor in the profession. He is an AIGA Fellow, and Aspen Design Fellow. He has been recognized by every major competition and publication including; How, Print, Step, Communication Arts, Graphis, AIGA, The Type Directors Club, The British Art Director’s Club, and the Art Director’s Club. Adams has been exhibited often, including a solo exhibition at The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Adams is an author of multiple magazine columns, and several best-selling books. He has been cited as one of the forty most important people shaping design internationally, and one of the top ten influential designers in the United States. Previously, Adams was a founding partner at AdamsMorioka, whose clients included The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Disney, Mohawk Fine Papers, The Metropolitan Opera, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, Richard Meier & Partners, Sundance, and the University of Southern California.