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I Want my MTV

MTV has not only shaped the music business, it has made a huge impact on Graphic Design as well. Ever since the channel first aired in the ’80s it has pushed the boundaries of on-air graphics, print and now the web.

Unfortunately, I have no samples of what I will talk about, but most of you have watched MTV at some point in your life.

I watch the VMA’s and the Movie awards mainly to see how the graphics will be treated each year, and yes, to see how far Christina Aguilera can go before she has to actually go naked to get any attention. But back to the topic… every year the design team at MTV has to come up with new graphics to keep people informed and entertained, because let’s face it, all award shows (even MTV’s) are boring.

Every show has something special in terms of design, from the Jetson-like Osbournes to the bold minimalist look of Jackass. One of my all time favorites was one Spring Break, can’t remember which year, where they had a bunck of chicks (the kind that go chirp) just hanging out on pink and green backgrounds.

There are so many thing to mention about MTV’s style, so I will not go into any more. But there is no doubt that MTV has set a high standard for design and has attracted many designers to copy their ideas. Most importantly they’ve made TV graphics, usually lame and dumbed down for the everyday viewer, a joy to watch.

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ARCHIVE ID 1260 FILED UNDER Designer/Design Firm Profile
PUBLISHED ON Oct.04.2002 BY Armin
Kane’s comment is:

I bet you'd love to explore this link to go for a sample of what you saw.

On Oct.04.2002 at 01:30 PM
Armin’s comment is:


Thanks, I went to a bunch of them but most led to dead ends or pages with missing pictures. I did find this. Who would have thought that these morons would shape the lifes of our young ones?

On Oct.04.2002 at 01:50 PM
Michael’s comment is:

I remember seeing some title graphics for their Xgames-esque festival which were very nice. That was maybe 4 years ago (before the DR Helvetica Neue style was completely whored out.)

On Oct.04.2002 at 01:54 PM
Kiran’s comment is:

I enjoy watching MTV soley for its spectacular broadcast design. I can do without the programing. What I have noticed since the proliferation of Flash (some good, most bad) on the Internet, is the use of "Flash like" graphics all over television, especially on MTV. For the most part it's better then the stuff on the web.

My friend asked me just the other day if I knew who is MTV's main advertising agency. Anyone know? I think they use small botiques which probably gives them the fresh look day after day.

On Oct.04.2002 at 02:04 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>who is MTV's main advertising agency. Anyone know?

I think most of the stuff is done in house, with a team of their own.

>use of "Flash like" graphics all over television, especially on MTV

I agree, the difference, I think, is they can make it look really good.

On Oct.04.2002 at 02:08 PM
Dada’s comment is:


> I did find this. Who would have thought that these morons would shape the lifes of our young ones?

Including my own son???!!!!

On Oct.04.2002 at 04:04 PM
Dada’s comment is:


> I did find this .Who would have thought that these morons would shape the lifes of our young ones?

Including my own son???!!!!

(meaning you Armin?)

On Oct.04.2002 at 04:11 PM
Armin’s comment is:

For those of you wondering "Dada" is my Dad, and yes Beavis and Butthead are, in some weird way, an influence on me. I was a gullible teenager when they came out. At least I haven't shot anybody, like some other crazed teenagers.

On Oct.04.2002 at 04:13 PM
pk’s comment is:

mtv/viacom eats design for lunch. there's such a chachet to their work in the rest of the business world - i suppose the hunch is if you work for mtv, then you're both hip and relevant - that many potential clients get all swoony when they see mtv in your book.

unfortunately, mtv knows this. they also know that there's always someone to take a designer's place, so there's no real reason to practice the design idolatry so prevalent in the rest of the industry (that's a good thing).

i've known a handful of designers in-house. the general concensus is that you work your buttinski off for very little coin. i daresay the pay is deemed low by designers who've been working for a while, and most of the mtv crowd skews to the early-20's. i certainly remember charging diddly squat when i was that age, just to get something published.

if you're working inside a studio and mtv comes to you with a work request...do it quick, cheap, and irreverent. above all, make it look effortless. and don't blow a lot of time on it unless you're fairly sure you can parlay that work into a more well-paying or relevant engagement somewhere down the road.

On Oct.05.2002 at 01:42 PM
David Cushman’s comment is:

I remember really liking a "look" one year during their "Spring Break" programming that incorporated a cool lowercase s that looked like a "wave." I also remember a cool Movie Awards print piece in some Annual or another, that only went to the audience... so there's a bunch of cool stuff we probably never see either...

On Oct.08.2002 at 12:14 PM
Alex D’s comment is:

The sad thing is that MTV has to make great graphics to sell their crap programming.

On Oct.24.2003 at 12:03 PM
greenapples’s comment is:

Vh1, despite it's bad new logo has some really great promotional spots using really beautiful typography and colors. My favorite is The Car Spot (it's down near the bottom of the "past spots" list. Another great one that I have seen quite a bit lately is the Do You Realize? VH1 Promo, also in the "past spots" list.

On Oct.25.2003 at 05:39 PM