Cameron, Milliband and Clegg as Mexican wrestlers

Design agencies Pentagram, Applied Wayfinding and Handsome visualise Britain's main parties as pictograms
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Party political designs courtesy of (from left) Applied Wayfinding, B&B Studio, Handsome Brands and Household. Image courtesy of Blueprint magazine.
Party political designs courtesy of (from left) Applied Wayfinding, B&B Studio, Handsome Brands and Household. Image courtesy of Blueprint magazine.

With the UK’s General Election just under a month away, seven of the UK’s top design studios have come up with alternative symbols for some of the parties.

Blueprint magazine asked the designers to create icons for the ballot paper for Thanet South, a British constituency whose candidates include the UK’s major political parties – The Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats – as well as the Green Party, the anti-European UK Independence Party (UKIP), and the satirical Free United Kingdom Party (FUKIP) founded by the British stand-up comic Al Murray (better known as 'The Pub Landlord').

The designers found inspiration from a range of sources, from drinks and road signs to Mexican wrestlers. As one studio, Household explains, rather hopefully, “In the dog-eat-dog world of modern politics, only those with muscular policies and heavyweight personalities will be able to wrestle victory from the jaws of defeat at this year’s General Election. Against this combative backdrop, what better way to represent the endless rounds of struggles these candidates face, than to portray them as Mexican wrestlers.”

 

Ico, Pentagram, The Chase's political designs. Image courtesy of Blueprint Magazine
Ico, Pentagram, The Chase's political designs. Image courtesy of Blueprint Magazine

B&B Studio has taken the UKIP leader literally. “Our symbols are inspired by [UKIP leader and Thanet South candidate] Nigel Farage’s insistence on always being seen in public holding a pint of beer. If the humble pint can be relied upon to win the UKIP vote, then surely every party can be represented by a beverage?” While Farage gets one pint, the FUKP gets two, “after which everyone thinks they can be Prime Minister,” explains B&B.

Pentagram also went down the drinks route, creating some typically clean and clear symbols, which remind us just a little of the firm’s Shake Shack designs. And Handsome Brands had fun with Margaret Calvert’s 1960s road signs.

 

Pentagram's drink-themed political party decals
Pentagram's drink-themed political party decals

The Chase offered a set of ‘true colours’, plus some graphic variations on the cross symbol. So the Conservative candidate is represented by cuts, the Liberal Democrat is “peeled away to reveal the Conservatives underneath”, UKIP gets an exit sign “both leaving Europe and halting immigration”, and Murray has “alcohol-induced blurred vision”

We can’t imagine any of these will replace the parties' existing logos, yet Blueprint has at least provided some visual playfulness into an election campaign bereft of the 'muscular policies and heavyweight personalities' referenced by Household. For a darker take on politics and visual culture consider our book Iron Fists, an illustrated history of propaganda art and design from Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the USSR, and Communist China. Meanwhile, for greater graphic inventiveness, from the Gutenberg press through to our digital age, get a copy of The Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design here.


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