UW student responds to logo-winning criticism

After winning Canada&rsquo;s 150th anniversary logo contest, Ariana Cuvin, a global business and digital arts student, has received both praise and extensive criticism for her winning design.</p>

“All I did was make the logo. I wasn’t the one who ended up choosing it,” Cuvin said. “In the end, I was designing for a client and if that’s what they wanted, that’s what they wanted.”

Only having found out about the contest two days before the submission deadline, Cuvin created her logo design and submitted it as one of 300 submissions, with no real expectations of winning and getting to be permanently part of Canadian history.

“I’m going to be honest: I didn’t think I was going to win,” Cuvin said. “I knew that I would be getting a lot of negative comments and a lot of criticism from the Graphic Designers of Canada and stuff like that.”

Back in 2013, the government hired a group of graphic designers for this task but none of the designs presented stuck. As a result, in December 2014 the Department of Canadian Heritage decided to give students an opportunity to submit their designs — a decision that proved unpopular among many Canadian graphic designers in the industry.

In protest of Cuvin’s winning logo, a number of Canadian graphic designers created a website — the150logo.ca — saying in the introduction: “As Canadian Designers we believe that Canada deserves better than what is being offered.”

The website — which contains various other logos created by designers from all over Canada — states that their most important goal is “for Heritage Canada to take notice, retract the five proposed logos, and hopefully enlist or open the bid for reputable Canadian design firms and agencies to work properly on this project.”

“That’s the thing about design and art in general. It’s very subjective,” Cuvin said when addressing the criticism she’s faced since her winning logo was revealed and announced.

Cuvin’s design has not been the only target for criticism, as the government has also been accused of exploiting students participating in the contest, which has been called “unethical.” However, Cuvin said she does not feel she has been exploited.

“I was aware of the controversy before I entered,” Cuvin said. “I knew what I was going into… There [was] set of rules that you can see on the website, and a bunch of guidelines … If you’re aware and it’s fully spelled out how things are going to run, what you’ll get out of it, it’s kind of hard to say you’re exploited if you chose to enter the contest.”

A hashtag was made — #mytimehasvalue — by students protesting against the contest claiming the government was using the contest as a form of exploitation.

“As much as I understand the hashtag ‘my time has value,’ in terms of graphic designers, there are plenty of other professions [where] you put all this work into it and you don’t get paid either,” Cuvin said.

Although the 19-year-old does recognize she was underpaid for her winning logo, she said for her it’s not all about the money, it’s about the recognition and professional exposure

“I know I was underpaid,” she said. “At the same time, it’s not always about the money.”

Her win has opened up opportunities for the Stratford campus student as the industry realizes the potential talent the UW satellite campus harbours.

“I’ve been getting a lot of recognition, and my portfolio has been getting way more views than it would have if I hadn’t entered,” she said.

She also said being part of such a big celebration is a great opportunity.

Cuvin said it was difficult to read tweets from people who disliked her design, she feels like “it was a little bit of a learning process,” and she thinks it will help her in the future.

“I think it was an important learning process, just because it relates to something that I want to pursue in the future — it’s something that I have to get used to.”

Despite the criticism, friends, professors, and UW president Feridun Hamdullahpur have all reached out in person and in social media to congratulate her on her achievement.

“I got a shout out from the Prime Minister, which is pretty cool,” Cuvin said.


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