Sean Beckwith: The silliness of Logo-gate |

Sean Beckwith: The silliness of Logo-gate

Whenever I hear the phrase “Addition by subtraction,” I automatically think of Andy Bernard from “The Office” using it to justify Dwight Schrute’s departure. Michael Scott, natural doofus, responds, “That doesn’t make any sense,” taking the term as literally as a doofus would.

I understand the meaning, as it could apply to righting a “too many cooks in the kitchen” situation. However, it also sounds like something a terrible boss would say after a round of layoffs.

It seems nonsensical, kind of like “You have to spend money to make money.” Even more bewildering than that is spending money to spend more money or spending money just to spend money.

I’m not going to entertain you with another rousing rendition of “How I’d fix the S-curves” brought to you by some guy who’s sat in traffic too long and thinks he’s a city planner.* I’m also not going to rally against government spending on excessive traffic studies because it seems as simple as trying to fit a lot of stuff through one tiny opening, kind of like what happens when you try to pour Raisinets through the perforated dispenser on a movie candy box.

The issue I’m overly confused about is Logo-gate, aka the new city of Aspen logo. It took two firms and $51,000 to come up with a green, stained-glass aspen leaf that “helps people recognize the value they’re receiving for their tax dollars here in our community,” according to Assistant City Manager Sara Ott.

To be fair, Ott is just doing her job. To be real, it’s $51,000 for a leaf.

This city has more art galleries and museums than it has marijuana dispensaries. Every block in the core has 12 places you can buy high-end art, and yet no one thought about conducting a town-logo contest? It doesn’t have to be final like when you ask high schools students to pick a new mascot name and they change the name to the Creighton Prep Poop Eaters because faculty thought a write-in option was harmless.

If you asked this highly artistic community, you might actually get something more representative of the city than a “Community Leaf.” A few submissions would probably be more political cartoon than logo and, if they all sucked, that’s when you bring in the professionally trained firms who are proficient at InDesign.

Compared with a $500,000 traffic study, a $51,000 ode to taxpayers’ return on forced investment is nothing.* I’ve seen more creative art hanging in Ryno’s than the new logo and the yearly ski-pass art combined.

“An identifiable symbol expresses our values and is a more professional approach,” Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron said.

This isn’t “The Great Gatsby.” No one is going to be lauding the profound meaning of a unified grove in the outline of an aspen leaf connected by one root system while still remaining individual trees. It sounds like the marketing firm took a little inspiration from Aspen’s other popular trees.

I can’t wait for Grand Junction’s logo — the silhouette of a meth head’s smile with five teeth, one for every value of the community.

My suggestion, which I unsuccessfully tried to sketch out in a publishable form, (I finished one version but didn’t like it) was an aspen leaf with a $ drawn into the midrib of the leaf, with CASHPEN underneath it. Obviously, I wouldn’t have won anything, but it was still fun.

Think of all the images you could work into the outline of an aspen leaf: a gondola car, Aspen Mountain, glasses of bubbly, a money sign with skis in place of the rods, that mom who took a selfie with her kids and a bear, a sunset, anything except for more trees.

I expected there to be more outrage over Logo-gate than a single letter to the editor and my personal displeasure in being left out of anything that I could immediately turn on its head and poke fun at. How many signatures do I need to overturn this “Buy the world a Coke” leaf? Where are my City Market signature gatherers?


* The S-curves don’t need to be fixed. You want a reason for people to ride alternate transportation into town? How about because it’s faster than sitting in your car? But, no, a super highway into the middle of town is going to cause less congestion.

* You know what doesn’t cost $51,000? Fixing the ankle-rolling cement on two slabs of concrete at the basketball court by the skate park.

Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at