DMA Design
Image: DMA Design

If you've ever played any games from the Grand Theft Auto developer DMA Design, then you've probably at some point come across its logo, the "DMA Man".

The red, green, and blue character, which was created out of the letters that made up the company's name in 1994, appeared across a bunch of the studios' games, including Space Station Silicon Valley, Body Harvest, and Wild Metal Country (to name just a few), and was often depicted as being subject to some misfortune or another like getting run over, kidnapped, or blown apart.

The logo was the work of the artist Stewart Graham, who won an internal competition at DMA after submitting the design. It was constructed out of a bunch of shapes cut out of plain white paper and apparently had to be coloured-in due to the office's lack of a colour printer.

Speaking to Time Extension, Graham revealed the story behind the now iconic video game logo and some thoughts on its design 30 years after he first created it.

"I joined the company, fresh after completing a Graphic Information Design course," Stewart tells us. "The company needed something easy, simple, catchy, and bold. With no plan, it was just a simple open brief to the company to see who could do something new and different. I recall it was down to my brother (another artist on the team) and my design, which was me colouring in sheets of plain paper and cutting out the shapes (the red, green and blue)."

Denki Logo
Both Graham's DMA Design logo and the logo for Denki have previously been exhibited in the McManus gallery in Dundee Image: Denki

He continues, "[It] was born very quickly, and it still annoys me! It was never quite right. The wrong shape, wrong colour, no outline, the green or blue was too bright, too dark, too off. Sending it off to publishers just made it all worse. Then it was all stretched or warped to suit a long-lost purpose."

According to Graham, it was DMA co-founder David Jones who ultimately spotted its potential. "When I presented the DMA logo, he immediately reacted: 'That's the one!' After that, it didn't take long to do a better version, more digital, with less crayons and colouring in.

"In today's world of Adobe Suite and colour printing, it all seems so dated the way it was first designed, but I do still sketch away with a pencil even now before I jump on Adobe Illustrator. When all is said and done though, I'm still proud of the playful nature of the DMA logo. It does what many logos don't do and raises a smile."

Graham's logo was used from 1994-2001, which is when it was eventually replaced with a new, "sophisticated" badge-like design for the release of Grand Theft Auto III. To our knowledge, this other logo was only used once, with the studio later rebranding to Rockstar North in 2002.

Graham still works as a graphic artist today and has designed a bunch of other logos since working at DMA Design. For example, he was behind the lightbulb logo for the interactive television and console game developer Denki, where he was also a founding member. You can view more of his work here.