‘Brilliant’ or Totally Phoned In? David Hockney’s New Design for the London Tube Is Sparking Merciless Mockery Online

“If you had said this was a children’s competition to redesign the logo and this was the winner I’d have [believed] it,” wrote one user.

David Hockney's new design for London's Piccadilly Circus underground station.
David Hockney's new design for London's Piccadilly Circus underground station.

Hey, David Hockney, a 4-year-old called—he wants his subway art back. 

Or so went many a Twitter joke over the last 24 hours after the Mayor of London unveiled a new design for the city’s Piccadilly Circus underground station created by the venerable British artist.

A jejune design that recalls Windows 98-era of Microsoft Paint, Hockney’s interpretation of the iconic London tube logo boasts a malformed, highlighter-yellow “O” and a station name board the color of everyone’s favorite purple dinosaur. The artist even ran out of space for the words “Piccadilly Circus,” cramming in a rogue “s” below.  

The design, London Mayor Sadiq Khan explained in a tweet, is a product of the city’s new £7 million Lets Do London “domestic tourism campaign.” He called Hockney’s illustration “brilliant work.”

The rest of the world, meanwhile, did not agree. Social media users quickly took Hockney’s design to task, lampooning the 83-year-old artist like Chevy Chase on vacation.   

“If you had said this was a children’s competition to redesign the logo and this was the winner I’d have [believed] it,” wrote one user.

“All artists are prepared to suffer for their work,” added another. “It’s a real shame that David Hockney expects the rest of us to f****** suffer on his behalf.”

A common complaint was the fact that Hockney, the country’s most famous—if overexposed—artist got the gig in the first place. “It’s a shame London isn’t packed w. creative artists who’ve had a really rough year and could’ve used both the money and the exposure this would provide, while also being a brilliant showcase for the city’s diversity, pride and passion,” concluded one commenter.

To be fair, Hockney reportedly made the illustration for free. And no one actually thinks he forgot to leave room for the “s.”

In reality, he probably made the piece on his iPad, perhaps between rounds of Fruit Ninja, one hand on the tablet, the other pinching a lit cigarette. He was likely trying to instill in the design the same sense of childlike hope that has underscored much of his recent work, such as his 116 new spring-themed iPad paintings opening this month at London’s Royal Academy of Arts.

Still, as far as the online universe of criticism was concerned, the conclusion was clear: the artist phoned it in.

Summing it up nicely, one Tweeter wrote

“London: “David, you said you’d have something to us by today?”

*crashing noise*

London: “David? Are you there?”

*panicked scribbling sounds*

David Hockney: “Yes, yes. Just sending it…”


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