It is the rainy season here in Vancouver. This past week has seen a huge amount of water drop from the sky. Whenever the rains are heavy, the manhole cover in front of my home rattles away loudly, sometimes even waking me up in the middle of the night. I have even stood on top of that slab of iron, feeling the power of the storm waters forcing their way upwards, threatening to push the metal circle from its setting. All the rattling over the past few days reminded me of the artwork that Sue and I submitted for the Ironclad Art contest that the City of Vancouver ran many months ago, in order to find new artwork for the municipalities’ storm and sewer covers.
I know that plenty of professional graphic designers have issues surrounding the logistics and ethics involved with procuring design services via “contests”. Many designers won’t enter a contest just to issue a statement. Just look at the tempest in a teapot the federal government has stirred up with their Canada 150 Logo Design Contest.
Sue and I discussed the merits of entering the Ironclad Art contest, and we both came to the same conclusion… “Let’s go for it”. We were not all that busy in the studio at the time, and it sounded like fun. At least this “contest” had some form of limited design brief, and guidelines for what the City was looking for. The allure of having our design cast in metal and publicly displayed throughout the city for decades to come was very appealing. We knew our chances of being chosen were slim, but the opportunity to design something as esoteric as a manhole cover was to great to pass up.
Looking back on our designs months later with fresh eyes, I think they turned out really well. Although our submissions were not chosen to be produced, Sue’s squirrel design was short listed.
… and we were right, it was fun.