But the world’s art directors, picture editors, illustrators and graphic designers were also called upon to respond to the unfolding drama.
Suddenly our newspapers, magazines and tv screens were filled with all manner of plunging graphs, downward arrows and worried-looking bankers. tv news instantly rolled into action with echoes of The Day Today never far away.
Events as important as this now get their own graphic identity: at the bbc, the news design team created what the Corporation refers to as a Financial Crisis ‘brand’, with the vertical of the r in crisis extended into an ominous arrow pointing determinedly downward. This defacto logo for unfolding events was used across all the bbc’s news output. A later revision, to “mark the transition from crisis to downturn” was then introduced, in which a 3D arrow careers across the screen in uncertain manner.
Red and black dominated across the media – predictable but what alternative colour schemes were there? Particularly strong were the Guardian’s graphics tracing the ups and downs of the stock market. Photolibraries suddenly experienced a surge in demand under the key-words ‘banker’, ‘sad’ and ‘crisis’, with ‘closing down sale’ signs in store windows and grumpy-looking shoppers making countless appearances across the press.
The news weeklies should really come into their own at times like this. Although a worrying predilection for crudely PhotoShopped imagery endures (step forward Time and Newsweek) some outstanding illustration also came through. Belle Mellor’s series in The Economist’s When Fortune Frowned supplement was a highlight but that magazine’s October 4 cover provided, for me, the outstanding original visual of the crisis: Graeme James’ stark image of a besuited figure peering over the edge of a crumbling precipice (in red and black, of course).