Saturday, 15 March 2014

FC Football Graphics (1998)

Sometimes it seems that modern football is a purely visual experience. TV commentaries, tasteless hot dogs and noisy supporters aside, the game as we know it today really is a feast for the eyes. What we don’t realise is how much of this imagery we all take for granted, or how much work goes into creating the visual stimuli we see. For that reason, Jeremy Leslie and Patrick Burgoyne’s book, FC Football Graphics, is a worthwhile attempt to make us re-evaluate the things that we see.

Given the subject matter, it’s only natural that the book is comprised mainly of pictures, gloriously and tantalisingly presented with an invitation to dwell slowly on each one. Where text is concerned, most of it appears in the lengthy introduction where we’re reminded that the worlds of fashion, literature and music have all exchanged influences with the beautiful game. After that, however, it’s largely pictures all the way, save for a few descriptive sentences on each pair of pages.

To begin with, there’s a selection of English club badges - the motifs that appear everywhere from Sky Sports to the Daily Mirror. Then comes the MLS equivalent (as it was when the book was published in 1998), notable by its inclusion of several club badges that are no longer in use some 16 years later.

Later we see examples of World Cup mascots and logos, but fascinatingly we’re reminded of the everyday bits of ephemera that circle the world of football like the rings around Saturn. National Lottery scratchcards, betting coupons, food and drink packaging… these are the things that blend into the background of our everyday lives, but which we never stop to appreciate.

When it comes to the match-day experience, however, one cannot look much beyond football shirts and strips as the ultimate embodiment of design, style and colour. The book shows us fans wearing their team shirts outside the ground, various shirt designs of all types - even the sponsor logos and manufacturer logos that dominate the shirt itself. All of them contribute to the tidal wave of imagery that constantly washes over us, but here we’re reminded to stop and actually look - to willingly appreciate the detail and complexities that lie within.

If you throw in football websites, magazines, video games, TV presentation, advertising and everything in between, you soon realise that the very essence of being a football supporter and all the experiences and memories we've had are based on the graphics that this book highlights. Take all of it away, and our football world suddenly becomes very uninteresting and dull.

And just think: this is less than 100 pages of content that was put together over a decade ago. Now imagine how many more visuals could be included in a 2014 version. If nothing else, FC Football Graphics makes the mind boggle and trains the eye to see football visuals as art rather than the wallpaper we take for granted every day.

FC Football Graphics
by Jeremy Leslie & Patrick Burgoyne
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Publish date: 1998

1 comment:

  1. I also covered this book, but not in as much detail - see