Monday, August 15, 2011

The Mod Target

Yeah, I get down on the Mod target a lot, as seen here and there. It's not at all that I don't dig it, really, but it's just so over-used as a Mod image. It's as if putting a target on anything makes that thing 'MOD!' I just don't buy it. Plus, in my eyes, only one guy has really ever made the target look slick:
My fave image of the Mod target as clothing on Keith Moon.
As seen above, the target as a design motif can be pretty cool. The Parka Avenue blog has a nice write-up on the target-as-Mod-icon worth checking out: For me, though, the standard blue/white/red target has been done to death.

However, over the years, I've always appreciated the attempts at either creating variations on the ol' blue/white/red image or coming up with something new altogether. For instance, as a teen, I thought this was amazing and oh my god why didn't anyone think of doing this earlier:
It's like the standard Mod target, but something's just a little off...what could it be...?
Wow! By reversing the colors, I was blown away by the look. (Hey, as a teen I was easily impressed, so lay off.)

I was also really taken, at the time, with the color contrast of this, my ol' Squire pin:
Back when I used to walk the streets thinking it was a Mod, Mod world.
Such a simple, great design that can really work well with other color schemes. In fact, the Anorak Thing blog had a great post a while back on the varying Air Force roundels that have influenced many a Mod badge:

But why limit it to just 3 colors? During my last year of high school, I saw the Mod target taken to a new, cool level with this record sleeve:
Oh yeah... bringin' back memories of senior year in high school!
I loved the liberty taken with the old Mod icon on this sleeve... and no, I'm not talking about Paul Weller and his love beads. Adding in an extra ring along with the green and yellow colors made the the target seem new again. After this, why go back to the standard?

Today, with so many awesome graphic designers out there, the target can be an excellent tool or jumping-off point for nice designs. Saw this recently for an all-dayer thing that recently occurred:
I just like how they built the imagery over a usually stale target.
 Some time ago, this guy I know tried to take the target and build it up with slightly psychedelic paisleys for a club night. Don't know if it was successful or not:
And no, I didn't swipe the idea from Ben Sherman... in fact, didn't see their version until a month later!
Back in high school, I would spend so much time trying to research anything Mod and, thanks to The Who, anything pop-art. That's how I came across Jasper Johns, the guy I thought responsible for the target imagery in the first place:
Jasper Johns, age 29. For more info, click here.
I'm horrible because I used to cut images of his paintings out of books to hang up on my wall... one of many things I'll have to answer for come Judgment Day.

Now, oddly enough, there was another pop artist around this time playing with targets: Sir Peter Blake.
Self-Portrait with Badges  1961 - This must be where the idea to cover up your jacket in badges came from!
Peter Blake is an interesting guy, especially when it comes to Mod iconography, such as his painting of... you guessed it:
The First Real Target, 1961
Most famous (I think) for his design of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP, Blake has also gone on to design record sleeves for The Who (Face Dances), Band-Aid (Do They Know It's Christmas?), and Paul Weller... and what's that I see on the sleeve:
That's a pretty awesome cover, you gotta admit.
According to interviews, Sir Peter Blake refers to himself as a 'lifelong Mod' and has recently teamed up with Fred Perry to offer a limited range of shirts taking cues from his art style:
Interested in what this is about? Look no further than here.
And the amazing ModCulture website posted a very recent interview with Sir Peter Blake that's worth checking out for his take on pop-art and the Mod thing:

The target can be a great visual tool in design, but overall, I'm just a little burnt-out on its use to identify anything as Mod. These days, you won't find any targets on me. Not on my suits, not on my coats, not on my shirts. My target days are behind me because I think that at my age, I shouldn't need to brandish a target to let anyone know what I'm all about. Too easy.

Now excuse me, I've got some shopping to do:


  1. Shameless multi-color target plug:

  2. So what you're saying is that you didn't like the tee shirt I got you from London? WHATEVER!!!

  3. Bill, I had your article in mind when I first started thinking about this, but forgot to link back! That has been remedied.

    Karen, I'm keeping that shirt safe in it's plastic wrapping. If I had gone out this weekend to the rally, I would have just carried it with me so that if anyone gave me a curious look I could just show them the shirt and say, "Yup, that's right, I'm Mod."

  4. We can make you a laminated "I'm a MOD!" card, and you can wear the shirt on Halloween.

  5. We definitely think along the same lines. And thanks for the plug!

  6. Yeah, roundel became one of many pop culture symbols, another brand logo. But it's still looking good ;) I treat it with a grain of salt just like the whole Mod heritage of 60s.
    As musical illustration of this topic - Desmond Dekker and his "Israelites". Enjoy :)

  7. and here it is:

  8. I used the target in 'slightly different form' as the logo for my graphic novel. Check it out: