Suddenly, Mlodozeniec found his own professional identity was tied to a range of Coexist logos, none of which represented his aesthetic — including the one he designed.
By that point, the Coexist design was already a phenomenon. U2’s Bono said he saw the symbol graffitied in Chicago, and he quickly made it a focal point of the band’s 2005 Vertigo tour (it shows up on the DVD label as well).
The Coexist logo didn’t begin as an inelegant medley of beliefs and symbols. It began as a depiction of three religions:
A smorgasbord of religious and political signifiers, with a few seemingly random symbols thrown in for good measure, it’s become its own symbol of a banal, graphically incoherent 21st-century hippie.
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From there, the Coexist logo metastasized even further, forming new random appendages and philosophic and religious associations.
Piotr Mlodozeniec designed it (you can see portions of our interview in the video above). I reached him in his house in Warsaw, Poland, and he spoke to me from a room decorated with colorful posters by him and his father, renowned Polish poster designer Jan Mlodozeniec.
But by then, Mlodozeniec’s elegant design had taken on a life of its own.
He soon pulled together a design that incorporated symbols and letters (a few years before, when he’d designed a logo for a rock band, he’d already used a Christian cross to substitute for a T). The logo he designed was one of the last works he showed to his father before Jan died in 2000.
This one’s a little different than the usual ones. I love it 🙂 The only tricky part is getting it on straight with no bubbles, but I’m sure it’s not that hard if you go about it the right way.
Despite his ambivalent relationship with the viral logo, Mlodozeniec has found that it’s become more, not less, meaningful over time.
That year, Billboard summarized the conflict: A group of Indiana University students said they’d seen the Coexist logo floating around on the internet. They made some minor modifications and trademarked it for their own lifestyle brand.
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Not only does it including alot of the other stuff in smaller text, but it deals with the main problem as the main (religious persecution), and makes a good attempt to include marginalized religions. Not too thrilled at the unitarian torch, but I think this is the best one I’ve yet seen, and the only one I’d be likely to buy.
But the Coexist logo wasn’t always just a trip to the semiotic bargain bin. At one time, it was vested with powerful design and real meaning. It’s also the center of a long battle over who owns it and what it really means.
But with that success came a need to protect the trademark. Charitably, the group may have had an overzealous legal team eager to protect a booming business. Less charitably, they fought to strangle an idea they didn’t come up with. (I reached out to one of the designers for comment but didn’t hear back.) Now Mlodozeniec was embroiled in the legal battles of some designers from a faraway place called “Indiana.”
The Original religion was Mithra he was known as the universal (Catholic) God of all the religions The Protestant reformers called Jesus Mithra that is why the political Catholic Church formed in France when they moved the Vatican called the reformers Manichaeism and why Thomas Moore called him Mithra in the book Utopia.
Mohammad was originally Sufi. Buddha called him Maitreya. Throughout history the Aryan (The descendants of Noah) was killed to erase the history of the flood and the Geneology you can easily follow the history and see their history was politically erased and a political created religion and history was formed at different times in history
He was confused — a fashion label in the United States was seeking his permission to use the Coexist logo. The company wanted that permission so it could sue another company for using the logo.
Their T-shirts were a hit — on March 12, 2005, the Bloomington International Herald-Times said that the entrepreneurs spotted Ashton Kutcher wearing their logo. Its success helped one of their models earn a modeling contract, and it allowed the recent graduates to become fashion mini moguls. The T-shirts retailed for $50 or more.
Purchased as a joke for a friend with a Prius. Sticker sticks very well, :-).
Love it but a little busy. Have this and “Tolerance” on my car. A bit overkill but like them both.Easy to apply. Clean area on car. Step back and think about how you’d like to align the sticker. Can pull down two top corners slightly and place on clean car if you need to test.
Apply sticker. Rub to strengthen bond and push out air bubbles.
The Coexist logo began as part of a contest — and it actually looked good
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Parcel Dimensions29.2 x 11.4 x 0.2 cm Manufacturer reference0052PM.BS.COXI Manufacturer Part Number0052PM.BS.COXI FoldingNo
Despite the differences, the new school of design faced its own legal issues from the Indiana luxury brand. (I talked to one Coexist seller who was hesitant to speak on the record, even today, because of the legal threats he faced in the mid-2000s.)
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Coexist International version Bumper Sticker in Various Languages
The Coexist logo was created in 2000, in response to a contest held by the Museum of the Seam, a contemporary art museum in Jerusalem. The theme, “coexistence,” was nice, but there were other reasons to enter too.
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One of the original Coexist T-shirts, modeled by a co-founder’s girlfriend. (Promotional Photo)
The Coexist logo doesn’t just belong to scuffed Saab bumpers in co-op parking lots. Today, the legal battles are behind it and it’s being used by new trademark owners to raise real money for change (not just make a profit for its sellers).
“Today,” Mlodozeniec says, “Coexist is a must. You have to do it.”
“I’ve worked as a graphic designer almost 36 years. What I do is rather different than this ascetic black and white, no letters, no color, nothing,” he says. “This image Coexist is a little different from my genre, my style.”
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As the Indiana Coexist contingent scrambled to get branded gear on Bono’s head (or on merch tables for the rest of the tour), Mlodozeniec and the Museum of the Seam simply wanted an acknowledgment of the original designer. They eventually got it as a small credit in one of the DVD releases.
The original Coexist logo was born from a long tradition of Polish design
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“I didn’t know what was going on,” he says. “They registered it as their own logo.”
Coexist uses religious symbols to promote religious tolerance. “Coexist” is surrounded by coexist written in other languages to promote religious tolerance internationally. New. Buy as many as you like. Please note that when you buy this sticker from Lifeweaver via Amazon, Amazon will charge you a shipping charge for EACH sticker purchased. Search Amazon for “Coexist Multipack” and save on shipping of multiple stickers. We offer partial refunds on shipping charges when multiple item purchases exceed our intended pricing. Other Amazon sellers may have other policies. Click on the “Ships from and sold by” link next to the product image to check the seller’s shipping and refund policies or contact the seller for more information. This sticker is also available as a magnetic bumper sticker in a separate listing.
“Articles always talk about me as creator of the Coexist logo. … I make a lot of stuff. Many of them are as good as this Coexist sign, but in my opinion, many of them are even better.”
Mlodozeniec’s design didn’t win first in the contest, but it did become part of a 20-poster touring exhibition. For viewers, it was the standout entry in Jerusalem and around the world. But for Mlodozeniec, it was one design of many — a successful one, but not one that was particularly notable.
For Mlodozeniec, what began as a graphic design job became something more meaningful.
When Mlodozeniec first saw the bumper sticker design, he wasn’t upset about copyright infringement. “They don’t steal my own sign,” he says, “but wanted to improve it and make it better.” His problem with it wasn’t legal but aesthetic.
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“I don’t know what will happen — if it will get power or die after two days,” he says. “I was very pleased that they liked it so much, that they blow it up to this big size … and then I forgot about this.”
I’d never thought about Polish graphic design royalty before talking to Piotr Mlodozeniec, but I came away understanding that he’s part of it. He’s a member of a strong aesthetic and political tradition (as seen in his 1990 poster for Polish leader Lech Walesa). Studying under Polish poster designer Henryk Tomaszewski, he developed his own approach to graphic design, and it rarely looked like his famous Coexist logo.
In the past 10 years, a new image joined the bumper sticker pantheon, right next to gratuitous honor student boasts and outdated political endorsements: Coexist.
5.0 out of 5 starsBefore the year 1054 Everyone knew they worshiped the same god. Crab Nebula exploded in Taurus and a genocide starts
“In 2000, the situation was not so complicated as today,” he says. But 9/11 changed world politics, and continuing crises in Europe made coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups more of a practical necessity. In 2016, there’s real action to be taken on issues that were more abstract just 15 years ago.
Mlodozeniec’s work is colorful and intentionally rough around the edges, and that look is part of a lively tradition of Polish poster making. To my American, art history dilettante eye, his work looked like a mix of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, but it’s really part of a tradition that predates both those artists.
“I have many themes,” Mlodozenic says. “When I was doing this poster in 2000, I liked this meaning of the word, because it’s obvious. … I was really pleased that I did this in a universal way.”
“They wrote to me and asked for help. I was really mad at this. Nobody asked me for permission,” Mlodozeniec says, even though one of the co-founders told Newsday that Mlodozeniec had given them his blessing. Eventually he engaged his own lawyers to make sure the logo wasn’t registered by others around the world.
“The prize was really good,” Mlodozeniec says. “I started to think about that, and I always work with letters. I started to write this ‘coexistence’ in many ways.”