The new Star Wars epic Rogue One is dominating the theaters. While the plots may evolve from film to film, we can always count on seeing the massive, orchestral opening of the Star Wars series that sets the tone for what’s about to follow. You get that huge fanfare, the long scroll, and that ubiquitous logo. But did you know the history behind that unique design? It all started in a galaxy far, far … well, you know.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the logo is the work of Suzy Rice, who at the time was a young designer at the Seiniger Advertising agency. 20th Century Fox rang it up to do some logo work for a little science fiction movie they were working on.
It was to be called Star Wars.
At his Industrial Light & Magic studios, George Lucas was quite specific with Rice about what he was looking for, to give his nascent film the proper identity. “He said that for the logo, he wanted ‘something that is very fascist,’ would ‘be intimidating,’ and that would ‘rival AT&T.'”
It turns out, in a matter of timing that would prove historical for everyone involved, Rice had been reading a book the previous night on German type design, which covered how high ranking Nazi Joseph Goebbels wanted all public signs to have a “uniform font.” As THR notes, “it was all part of the fascist’s control by enforcing conformity.” The font he eventually went for is unknown, but it was said to have influenced Helvetica, which arrived after the end of the Nazi regime. Rice says in a blog post that she chose Helvetica Black for the Star Wars logo.
How did the process go? Sounds like it was pretty straightforward. “(I) drew the two title words on two lines, stacking and squaring them (‘intimidating’ and ‘fascist’ in statement). Then I outlined each letter (more severe, white outline against a black field/background — stars, space, the Dark) and started working each letter of each word into relationship with the others,” she writes in her post.
Rice then took the finished version to Lucas. He had some suggestions. “He looked it over and said, ‘it looks like ”TAR WAR’ and asked me to close-up the loop in the first and last ‘S’ of the title (the title begins and ends with an ‘S’).”
She went back to work, made the revisions, and she adds “that was that.” You may have noticed that the logo as originally submitted is not quite the same as the one we know today.
THR also reports that while Rice didn’t get her name in the opening credits as they’d already been completed, Lucasfilm has acknowledged her work and credited her in an official poster book.