So, it’s 3am: 3.5 hours until sunrise and you still have five more pages of a research paper to write. Between fighting the urge to lie down or open Netflix, your gaze falls to the pile of empty coffee cups next to your desk. You first feel guilty for not using a reusable mug (because Loyola is Eco friendly, OF COURSE!), and then your eyes focus in on the Starbucks logo.
“Am I hallucinating? Is that…a naked mermaid?!”
Why yes, yes it is. Well, sort of. Have you ever wondered about the origins or even noticed the mythical creature on the cups of coffee that America cherishes?
The logo was designed by Terry Heckler of Heckler Associates. According to the Heckler Associates’ official website, “The original drawing of the Starbucks brand signature or logo was based on a 15th century Norse woodcut of a two-tailed siren.” The founders thought that the “mythological mermaid…[was] the perfect metaphor for the siren song of coffee that lures us cupside.”
Terry Heckler’s ex-business associate, Gordon Bowker, is one of Starbucks’ co-founders, which is how Heckler became the infamous artist of the world’s most famous naked siren. Bowker speaks of Heckler as, “cerebral and unpredictable…his interest in the work overrides any ulterior motives he might have” (Seattletimes.com). Speaking of Heckler’s motivation… a perfect transition to the identification of Heckler as a creative!
Heckler has done corporate designs for over forty years, and some of his most famous contributions include K2, Rainier Beer, Panera Bread, Cinnabon, New Balance, and of course Starbucks. Although Heckler is classically trained with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, his work, motivation, his interest in moving beyond corporate art, and ability to collaborate sets him apart as a creative.
1. Motivation: In class, we have spent extensive time discussing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In the field of corporate logo art, I would have assumed Heckler’s motivation to be highly extrinsic, as his most successful art will most likely live beyond his lifetime through the existence of global companies. Yet, his associate Bowker distinctly said his motivation is intrinsic. An article I read said that Heckler keeps paper and ink by the phone in his office. Every time he gets a phone call, he begins a drawing. Heckler believes he has as many as 240,000 of these “phone comps.” Some of them eventually are turned into full pieces. This exercise demonstrates Heckler’s desire to expand himself and release his creative urges as frequently as possible, even without reward. (Gardner, 1993).
2. Ability to Collaborate: Heckler is the founder of Heckler Associates. Working in a firm of this caliber does not only demand collaboration with other artists, but with other big names in business. I struggled to find anything negative about Heckler online, and he seems to execute collaboration flawlessly.
3. Organizing Themes: Relationship between child and master, individual and the work, individual and other persons— In writing these blog posts, I like to return to the organizing themes of Gardner’s text (Gardner, 1993). I struggled to do so with Terry Heckler. He’s somewhat of a mysterious figure, an infamous artist if I may—the man behind the logo. It forced me to continue to question what creativity—what the products—of creativity encompass.
The next time you see a logo, maybe take a second to look it up. Art is all around you, even in the pile of empty caffeine vessels piled too high by your desk lamp.
Fun Fact: Modifications of the logo:
While the original logo did in fact include the breasts of the siren, complaints from women (especially after the logo was blown up on delivery trucks) eventually convinced Heckler to cover up with her hair.