The Iconic Star Wars Logo Was Redesigned In Less Than 24 Hours

The Star Wars Celebration convention continued today with a panel about the upcoming documentary "Light and Magic," featuring key figures from the groundbreaking VFX company behind the craft of the franchise, Industrial Light & Magic. Director, writer, and visual effects artist Joe Johnston, who, among his many other accomplishments, famously made the "Star Wars" logo fans known and love, was among the panelists.

Johnston spoke about creating the universally recognized logo, and revealed that the initial version the team was working with wasn't quite what they wanted. The artist, who is credited as an effects illustrator and designer on George Lucas' 1977 film, says the final product we see today was designed during crunch time in just one night.

According to Johnston, producer Gary Kurtz came to him one evening with an initial design for the "Star Wars" logo. This precursor to the blocky, striking font we now know sounds admittedly pretty terrible. "It was on one line and it was very thin, hairline letters with pointed ends on the W and everything," Johnston says. He says that Kurtz was somewhat panicked, and told Johnston the team had already shot the iconic scrolling introduction that would open the film but needed the logo to finish the film's opening shot. "We need this tomorrow," he apparently said. "Can you fix this?"

Stack the words, it's cleaner

Johnston told Kurtz he couldn't fix the logo, but he could totally redesign it. Kurtz gave Johnston the okay, but warned that the logo had to be done by 10:00 in the morning the very next day. Johnston seems pretty nonchalant about the inception of the "Star Wars" logo, despite the fact that it's appeared on countless T-shirts, posters, toys, and every other imaginable surface over the past four decades. Though the logo is most often seen in yellow outline, the artist says he created it with black ink. "I basically drew it with a ruling pen and a ruler," he says, explaining that he decided to stack the words on top of one another for his version of the logo.

The artist may have been burning the midnight oil, but it paid off. The "Star Wars" logo is now arguably among the most recognizable in the world. But in the pre-franchise budget world in which Lucas and his team had to scramble to make every aspect of their vision a reality, it sounds like Johnston may not have ended up with the rights to logo royalties. "If I only had one penny for every time that thing's been printed," Johnston joked to the appreciative crowd at Star Wars Celebration, "I don't think I would be here right now!"