Designs for ‘Ghana at 67’

Every year, around the middle of February, I think to myself: “Hm. 6th March coming up, should do some­thing.” This year was no dif­fer­ent; was fairly con­fi­dent I would, right up to Monday the 4th, when I got a call sched­ul­ing an impor­tant project meet­ing for Tuesday.

Anyway. I almost have too many Ghana-related tee designs already, so I had a vague inten­tion to aim for a poster this time. This crys­tal­lized when I saw this very cool cover from Chermayeff, Geismar and Geissbuhler.

Colourful poster in red, blue and white, with heavy modular capitals reading 'Aiken-3'.
Cover design for an Aiken Industries Annual Report, circa 1969.

Last year, I got to visit Barbara Incoom at Delta Paper for a men­tor­ship pro­gram, and had a nice long ses­sion with the in-house designer, Iddrisu Sulemana. His explo­ration of the rich tex­tures of the façade of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum stuck in my mind, and showed up halfway through the design. (Three “of the’s” in that sen­tence.) I actu­ally mis­re­mem­bered the build­ing as the National Theatre in Accra, which has sim­i­lar mar­bling on its façade – so I spent half an hour learn­ing about that.

A view of the Ghana National Theatre, with the white-tiled buildings against the grey marbled outer wall.
Designed and built by CCTN of China, around 1992. Beautiful jux­ta­po­si­tion of smooth white against tex­tured earth-tone, by pho­tog­ra­pher Julian Lanoo.

So the rigid­ity of the type, medi­ated through the idea of the tex­tured grid, pro­duced some­thing more lay­ered than I typ­i­cally go in for. Thanks to Sulley, and Geismar et al, and [unat­trib­uted CCTN archi­tect], and Lanoo.

Colourful poster of abstract shapes that layer the stylized letters of 'Ghana' with a beveled star, and the figures '67'

So that was that.


Not sure why I Googled (well, DDG’d) for ‘Ghana at 67’; maybe I should not have done. Because there is an offi­cial logo. 

The official Ghana at 67 logo, featuring the Independence Arch, the roots of a tree, and several ribbon shapes

I did not get the logo. It stuck in my mind though, enough that I opened my sketch­book. It only took two sketches to real­ize that the fig­ures 6 and 7 fit quite nicely together in a star shape. So I got to work.

Poster showing my Ghana at 67 logo: a black star enclosing the stylized figures 6 and 7, with red and green triangles, surrounded by a radial pattern of triangles
Poster showing a vector mockup of my Ghana at 67 logo, printed on a box and embossed on two gold coins
Poster showing the outlined shapes behind the vector mockup

Not why I posted it to Instagram, but it was a good hunch. I think the colour does as much as the com­po­si­tion, but the design stands out quite well in the Feed. Joshua Cleopas was nice enough to repost it, and that got a bunch of eyes on it. And then some­how it found its way to Osmond Tshuma – I first saw him on DEX Ghana a couple years ago, shar­ing his won­der­ful archive of posters cel­e­brat­ing African state anniver­saries, so I ref­er­enced that in my cap­tion. Probably I already had him in mind while design­ing, because the geo­met­ric pat­tern around the star feels quite Southern African.

And then a friend mes­sages me on IG, with a screen­shot from his Twitter: “Not sure you’ve seen this” was his cap­tion. I had not!

Twitter screenshot: Osmond Tshuma shares my logo and muses on what it means to be an inspiration to other designers

I had to find my Twitter pass­word to see it for myself, because now you can only view pinned Tweets with­out log­ging in. (And appar­ently I’ll need to post a lot before they treat me like a human? I’m cool with bot status.)

Thanks to Joshua Cleopas, and Osmond Tshuma, and every­body who takes the time to share inspi­ra­tion and encour­age­ment. Design, as ever, is about com­mu­ni­ca­tion and connection.

And since that is true, I also have to thank [unat­trib­uted designer of Ghana at 67 logo]. I can’t say I like it, but it clearly took a lot of time and atten­tion – and it has sparked sev­eral con­ver­sa­tions for me. So sin­cerely, thank you.

Another cool thing I learned from Osmond Tshuma’s Twitter feed, quite sig­nif­i­cant. Two African design­ers just released type­faces, shared in Google’s Font Library: Ojuju ref­er­ences mas­quer­ade cul­ture, and the first draft of Madimi One has been in my Behance book­marks for two years.

Screenshot of Google Fonts homepage shows type specimens for Madimi One and Ojuju, the first African-designed fonts in the catalogue
Google Fonts home­page on 6th March; it’s inter­est­ing that they coör­di­nated the two releases.

From LinkedIn I learned that Simon Charwey was also help­ful in get­ting Ojuju made, as were quite a few type design­ers from around the world, includ­ing Eben Sorkin. Good things happen in col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Heartfelt con­grat­u­la­tions to Taurai Mtake, and Chisaokwu Joboson!