Art may be in the eye of the beholder, but a proposed "Dream Big" design for the City of Bloomington needs an eraser.
"Dream Big" is the slogan pitched for gateway, wayfinding and branding signs coming soon to downtown Bloomington as part of a proposed design and branding concept.
The idea is good. "Dream Big" opens a lot of possibilities for business, entertainment, tourism and more. The problem, unfortunately, is the logo itself.
In a memo to the City Council (which paid $62,000 for the graficis work), city planner Katie Simpson said "Like downtown Bloomington's buildings, the wayfinding concept incorporates a blend of decorative styles and features."
As previously reported, the tagline, "Dream Big," is underlined by the stroke of a paintbrush, "a symbolic representation of artistic expression and the inclusive and diversity prevalent in the downtown creative community," the memo said.
The "bold, patriotic color palette" represents Bloomington's historical political ties with Abraham Lincoln, the Adlai Stevenson family and David Davis, as well as the city's symbolic red chevron, the memo further states.
"The message encourages community members and the community to continue to achieve their greatest aspirations, to be creative and resourceful, and, most importantly, to persist with innovative solutions during times of adversity."
That's what a good design should do. We don't think this one does that, so we're glad the council has asked for a do-over. Unfortunately, aldermen agreed to spend another $10,000 for work that should've been done better in the first place — and at a much lower cost.
After 47 meetings of the design committee, we would have expected a design that better represents "Dream Big" and is representative of the city. It's hard to use a skyline concept because county government already uses the old courthouse dome for that, but a swipe of a paintbrush doesn't work either.
"Dream Big" is a good concept that needs something more than a brush stroke.
The city's current budget allocates $250,000 for the overall project, including the design, signs and installation. Effective signage that draws people to a specific destination, promotes events and provides a visual "stamp" is money well spent when the project is well done.
The final design will be around for a long time. We hope the next drawing hits it out of the park.