The story of the new CTPS logo

This is the new logo of the Cape Town Photographic Society, designed by 25-year old Cape Town art director Karl Moss, which was unveiled at the 2017 AGM in September. It was selected as our new logo by the CTPS council, CTPS members, an expert graphic designer and given the thumbs up by a heraldic expert.

This logo was selected from 123 entries received from graphic designers, ad agencies, design students, CTPS members and ordinary creative people from across Cape Town and the winelands – even as far as the UK or Grahamstown.

Many members had grown fond of the old logo, and were not overly enthusiastic about replacing it – even though it was not our original emblem. This honour belongs to this crest, or badge (below), that was still in use as late as 2010 when it was offered to members as a pocket or lapel badge. This was a colourful version of the first crest, identifying the Cape Town Photographic Club, as CTPS was known until the early 20th century.

As far as can be ascertained, the more elaborate round logo was minted in Birmingham as the B-side of a medal, probably ordered for the ill-fated 1906 salon that almost bankrupted us. The Birmingham minter clearly employed more imagination than research skills when designing this logo.

As you can see above, the crest and supports in the top half of the CTPS logo (right) bear an uncanny resemblance to the seal of the old Cape Colony (left), which was patented by the College of Arms in London in December 1899. This body is fairly uptight about the use of emblems of honour, declaring that they “may only be borne by virtue of ancestral right, or of a grant made to the user under due authority”. This ‘due authority’ would be the queen or London College of Arms.It is doubtful that CTPS was given a grant by the ‘due authority’. As we all know, copying is unacceptable and Colonialism is distasteful to many people.The minter did make two changes: the wildebeest and oryx supports were replaced by a strange buck, resembling a boerbok with funny horns.

Natural elements

But, alas, that was not the only problem with the logo. The natural elements were also problematic:

Artists of the time, including Thomas Baines, were quite fond of depicting the agave Americana featuring so prominently on the logo … it is a scenic plant native to South America, good for making tequila and sisal, but is listed as an invasive species in South Africa.Other oddities of this early twentieth century is the strange shape of Table Mountain and the farms against its slopes, when we all know that there were quite a few solid buildings in Cape Town by 1906.Therefore, much as we liked the old logo, it was clearly time for a change … although, like the rare flawed stamps that are worth thousands, many of us will always fondly cherish the old logo because of its quirky mistakes.

Not repeat mistakes

A change was clearly due, and council decided they were going to avoid the mistakes of our forefathers when selecting a new logo. They wanted:

  • a wide selection to choose from;
  • members to be involved in the process;
  • a heraldic expert, an expert graphic designer and the president to give the final approval (actually it was a unanimous vote of approval by council).

A competition was therefore announced, which generated a lot of interest. After an initial selection, members were asked to vote for their favourite logo. Five emerged as the favourites:

The last step was to involve the experts. So that the sins of the fathers would not be visited on future members, we consulted Mr Marcel van Rossum Deputy Director: Designs and Registrations in the South African Bureau of Heraldry. He very kindly – and rather diplomatically – told us the following about our old logo:

  • “The use of a city coat of arms with an association logo will not be approved, unless so agreed to by that city (or colony)”. Although he doubts that we will get into trouble for using this coat of arms as it has been in use by CTPS for more than 100 years.
  • “It is really not common practice to include a coat of arms within a logo – in fact this is ‘malpractice’ or frowned upon.”
  • “In heraldry the use of nature or natural scenes are not supported as this changes over the years.”

As far as the possible new logo choices goes – not his domain, said Van Rossum: they are pure logos, not heraldic emblems.

Graphic design expert

It was then over to the graphic design expert. Over the past 40 years Maré Mouton has designed logos for many famous brands and companies, designed stamps, did magazine design and writing, ran a media company, edited, designed and published Village Life magazine, and worked as a professional photographer … then president Nicol du Toit therefore considered him eminently qualified to consult.

A logo, Maré explained, should be instantly recognisable as a symbol of the company or product it depicts. He said the following about our winning logo:

“By far the strongest of the five designs under review, with visual references to both Cape Town and photography.”

Meet Karl Moss, our logo designer

The designer, Karl Moss, a young art director says “graphic design was always a part of my life, having a father who is also a creative by trade. Leonardo da Vinci’s famous quote, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” strongly resonates with me, and is something I believe echoes throughout my design work,” he explained to members at the AGM.

He has a degree in visual communication from the AAA School of Advertising and has been working as art director on several very well-known brand campaigns at two advertising agencies.

“I discovered your advert for the logo competition in an issue of The False Bay Echo, and thought it would be great exposure for me as a creative and logo designer, with the prize obviously being a deal-sweetener.”  He researched CTPS while doing the design and incorporated the blue used on our website, as well as the font used on the brochure advertising the fateful 1906 salon on the “Society of Firsts” website page.