Has the Portland city seal gone "Hollywood?"

Today, in The Oregonian's weekly inPortland section, the Portland city seal is mentioned in the Top of the Town column from writer Ryan Frank. The cast and crew of the upcoming movie "Untraceable" took over Portland City Hall last week for the filming of scenes and, in the process, the film's production department gave the city seal a dramatic Hollywood-style makeover.

The new image incorporates Mt. Hood; the Hawthorne, Fremont and St. Johns Bridges, the Willamette River, some trees and stars in the sky. According to the "Big O" item, Mayor Tom Potter likes the new design more than the real one. The Seal of Approval piece states:

"It's beautiful," Potter said Friday of the fake seal, which adorned fake police badges and fake doors and fake press conference backdrops during the shoot.

The newspaper reports that the producer of the movie offered to leave the seal as a gift.

The seal with the "star treatment" is much cleaner and more contemporary than the very traditional symbol now representing the City of Portland. The official image in use today is a 2005 update of the historic seal; last given a facelift in 1964. The symbols in the current seal are consistent with suggested design elements found in City Archives documents going back to 1878. The female figure in the center of the seal represents Commerce, while the sheaf of grain, cogwheel, and sledgehammer symbolize the origins of the city, its culture, agrarian base, and industry. A historical perspective on the evolution of the city seal is displayed on the web page of the Portland Auditor's Office.

The cinema version of the city seal does seem to convey a stronger and more graphically pleasing image of Portland. Perhaps city officials should give the "new and improved" seal some serious consideration.

In a "small world" aside, column writer Frank and I have our own graphic-related history. Back in 1998 he was the editor of the Oregon Daily Emerald, the University of Oregon's student newspaper. The publication was celebrating its 100th anniversary and Frank hired me to recreate, and update, the original flag of the paper to be used throughout the year of celebration. It somehow seemed appropriate that I design the image as, 20 years earlier, I got my start in the graphics profession as the advertising designer for the Daily Emerald.

Seal photo: Ross William Hamilton, The Oregonian

(I should also mention that the following notice appears at the end of today's "Top of the Town" column: "Reporter Anna Griffin, who wore Yankee pinstripes to the office on Opening Day, did most of the work for this column.")

© 2007 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives

No comments: