Ian Talbot: Retrospective – Ralph Lauren Shirt :: The Style Guide







Chapter 35 of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.







Ralph Lauren Shirt :: The Style Guide



© Ian Talbot


“… polo was not a well known sport in the Bronx of Lauren’s youth.” Forbes Magazine, 1986, on Ralph Lauren’s Polo trademark.

There can’t be too many people who wouldn’t recognise Ralph Lauren’s Polo brand logo. Carefully crafted and an example of design that’s perfectly fit for purpose. As you can see from the quote above, it’s an image with little or no relation to reality. But this is style and fashion we’re talking about here, it’s not supposed to be a reflection of truth or reality.

You may ask what has this got to do with “art”? In fact it has everything to do with art. The creativity involved in the development of the Polo “image” is a match for anything in any other branch of the “arts”. From the logo to the rigorously controlled presentation of the image in print, TV advertising the whole process has been carefully crafted by some of the most creative minds, professionally at the top of their game. Visually the execution of that advertising has been, in many cases, exquisitely realised.

StateI’m not about to enter into questions of “ethics”, “honesty” or any of that stuff here. I just observe that “creatively” the process of figuring out EXACTLY what one wants to say (or “image” one wants to project) as performed by the top professionals in their field is an object lesson to ALL artists in any medium. Notwithstanding that “serious” artists may well consider that what they wish to express is far more more important or “beneficial to mankind” or whatever, the clarity of thinking and perfection of execution exhibited in the best of advertising puts much of what is produced in the name of “art” to shame.

It need not be like that, of course. So consider this… the next time you feel that you have something of world shattering importance to say or express you could do worse than to study the means and methods by which it is done in advertising, fashion photography etc., never mind whether you may affect to despise it all or not. Naturally, as a “serious artist” you will no doubt consider yourself to be way above such mundane things. You will think yourself concerned with far more important matters and, after all, you are creatively free to do whatever you like. You SHOULD be able to do better then. OK… so prove it.

After all it’s successfully communicating an idea, notion, concept that you too wish to achieve…


    Ian Talbot

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