Sports Logo Mosaic

Mosaic Minnesota Vikings Logo by artist Curt Gassmann

A stylized logo or pattern is different from a picture of an object. In a picture, the goal is to create a sense of verisimilitude (likeness) by including small details and visual complexity. In a logo, there is an opposite emphasis. To create a logo, images are “posterized” and every element is reduced to monochromatic color fields and small details are eliminated.

Before I write about how well artist Curt Gassmann used gridded element in his Minnesota Vikings logo, I need to explain why you shouldn’t use them in a mosaic picture if your goal is to make the image as interesting as possible.

Why No Grid?

I don’t think I have ever seen a mosaic picture that benefitted from having gridded elements, such as a sky that is grid of whole tiles in a scene that is otherwise composed of curving andamento and cut pieces.

In a scene, a gridded element or background always looks like an opportunity lost. I find myself wondering why didn’t the artist use that area to increase visual interest? Why was there a rush to complete that part of the mosaic?

Logo

A stylized logo is different from a picture, and here a gridded background is appropriate, preferred actually.

I have seen some sports logos where the background used concentric work lines around the central figure, and the effect can be problematic.

If the central figure is relatively simple, which is the case with most all logos, a background with interesting andamento can be overwhelming and draw more attention than the figure itself.

Using a background of whole tiles in a grid ensures that stylized figure “stands out” visually.

Mosaic Minnesota Vikings Logo braid detail by artist Curt Gassmann
Mosaic Minnesota Vikings Logo braid detail by artist Curt Gassmann. Note how the braid uses a gridded layout rotated 45 degrees, which fades into cut pieces at the tip of the braid.

A Caveat

I don’t like the method shown above when used in mosaic scenes and still-life compositions. I think backgrounds with concentric andamento and a painterly style produces more interesting mosaic images.

Teaching Example

Natalija and I were very excited when we saw Curt’s Viking Logo. It’s a great teaching example because the whole-tile gridded elements are used seamlessly with outlining made from cut pieces of tile.

It’s also well executed with fairly consistent grout gaps in spite of the different modes (gridded/non-gridded) in adjacent areas.

I have seen some inset-in-grid designs where the figure was practically no-gap in places, but the gridded background used a standard architectural gap. The effect was jarring and made the architectural grout gaps look larger than they actually were.

Curt didn’t fall into that pit but successfully walked the tightrope all the way around the outline of the central figure and all points in between. This mosaic logo is well executed.

Mosaic Minnesota Vikings Logo horn detail by artist Curt Gassmann
Mosaic Minnesota Vikings Logo horn detail by artist Curt Gassmann

Genius in Details

I love how the horns are rendered with a grid that has been obliquely rotated, and how this grid bends into curving work lines, seamlessly transitioning from gridded to non-gridded mode.

I love how the white of the horns isn’t filled in using a grid with the same orientation as the grids used for the background and helmet.

How many artists would have made the outline of the horn and then started backfilling it with white in a grid with the same orientation as the helmet?

When there are fewer decisions to make, spend more time on each decision.

That is how you create a stylized design that is iconic.

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