It’s with a heavy heart that I write this commemorative post to Prince. I saw he had died earlier today and because I’m from Minnesota, and we don’t have that many massive superstars, it has been almost all people have been talking about on social media today. His contribution to music is undeniable, from Purple Rain to Darling Nicki, When Dove’s Cry and other giant hits that permeated through all facets of our culture and enriched the lives of those who heard it.
Prince as a pure concentrated version of 80’s extravagance
Everyone who has seen the movie ‘Purple Rain,’ can see a snapshot into the 80’s but also a snapshot of a man pushing boundaries in the visual realm as well as the musical realm. Purple, tights, frills, ‘feminine’ makeup, expressing feelings through the lavish displays of luxury, party culture, sexuality. Prince exudes sexuality in a way with his nakedness on album covers, his proudness of his body and the crossing of gender barriers. Generally identifying as straight, and publically dating women Prince didn’t seem to care how he came off.
The roots of rock n’ roll pageantry, blurring gender lines in rock n’ roll
Cut to 2016, where we take some of this freedom for granted and would barely be considering pushing the boundaries. The 80’s had more than just Prince, and his legacy was preceded by the elaborate costuming and pageantry of David Bowie, Queen and T-Rex in the 70’s but Prince brought the world a powerfully confident version of that aesthetic.
What we take for granted in 2016 owes to the legacy of Prince’s confidence
2016 – is the year where Pantone is honoring two colors – Rose Quartz and Serenity – essentially honoring the blending of the genders in a colorful symbolic gesture. Something sounds familiar about the tone, and Prince was a big part of popularizing this vibe, and inviting it in with his gaudy, extravagant and adventurous wardrobe.
The music is epic. The soul and technical proficiency in guitar playing and sonic pop music rarely go so delightfully hand in hand, and we have that catalog of music that will stand the test of time. I think that the outfits and aesthetic helped make Prince’s persona larger than life – entertainment … and in the end graphic and visual design can take a strong pointer from this pageantry.
In the bold visual it tells a story. A story of ‘this is important,’ ‘this is fun’, this is a party. For me, I want my visual design to dabble with this kind of distinction and story-telling as well. Rest in peace to Prince, now a modern day legend. Thank you.