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The logos of Starbucks, Google, and more get redesigned by a bot

“I think people read different things into the logos. Some of them like the aesthetic of the glitchiness, and for others there’s a political or even anti-consumerist message to them,” says the artist behind @glitchlogos.

The logos of Starbucks, Google, and more get redesigned by a bot
[Photo: courtesy Glitch Logos]

Three years ago, self-proclaimed internet artist Darius Kazemi launched a project that made waves across the web. Drawing on his programming experience, Kazemi invented a Twitter bot, @glitchlogos, that could redraw the vectors of corporate logos, thus reimagining their core brand identities. These instantly recognizable logos become decidedly less so when seen through Kazemi’s lens; it’s as if television static, or perhaps melted candle wax, has virtually disfigured their natural forms.

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[Photo: courtesy Glitch Logos]
Kazemi, who also cofounded Feel Train, a creative technology cooperative in Portland, Oregon, is now selling his glitch logo art in an online store—a response, no doubt, to the popularity of his delightfully warped images on Twitter. “Glitch Logos was one of my first visual bots I ever made, and as a person who normally does text generation I was surprised at how strongly people reacted to the logos (though it seems obvious now),” Kazemi says in an email. “I think people read different things into the logos. Some of them like the aesthetic of the glitchiness, and for others there’s a political or even anti-consumerist message to them. And logos mean such different things: for example, the presidential seal is a very different kind of logo from the Best Buy logo, both visually and representationally.”

The internet artist has designed all sorts of projects for today’s URL-obsessed culture; from a bot that makes new nouns derived from the base noun “jeans,” to a Hip Hop Archive Radio Bot that creates random 60-second clips, Kazemi has a different type of potential social network for everyone.

But as far as his augmented logos go, Kazemi says the more recognizable the logo is, the more popular the glitch is amongst his audience.

[Photo: courtesy Glitch Logos]
“When people think of glitches they often go to weird photo filters or pixel-style glitches, but glitches in vector art can produce incredibly uncanny effects, like the face of the Starbucks mermaid being separated clean from its head, or the eagle in the presidential seal losing its beak,” Kazemi explains. “Because the glitches are working with the actual pieces of the art, rather than a flattened representation like a bitmap, you can get these really meaningful glitches that you could never otherwise get. It’s more like a glitch in the 3D world of a video game than a Photoshop-type glitch.”

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The design experiment is clearly appealing to consumers, as the artist has already sold several T-shirts donning the vector art. “The presidential seal shirts are selling the best, which I suppose makes sense given today’s kickoff of the public impeachment hearings,” says Kazemi, who adds that, to his surprise, people are coming back as repeat customers to buy replacement shirts (namely, the altered Starbucks ones) since their old ones have gotten worn over the years.

The popularity of the Starbucks version, he explains, makes some sense given the coffee giant’s ubiquity: “the more recognizable the logo, the more popular the glitch is, though some glitches are more popular than others,” he says. “For example, the other week the bot altered the Google logo to read ‘God,’ totally by chance.”

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