The Origin of the Anti-Nuclear Emblem 'We Wanted a Logo that Was Cheerful and Polite'

Danish activist Anne Lund designed the "Nuclear Power? No Thanks" logo that has become the symbol of the anti-nuclear movement around the world. She spoke with SPIEGEL about how the "Smiling Sun" was born and why she never made any money from her design.

DPA

By SPIEGEL Staff


It is the logo that has been seen at countless anti-nuclear demonstrations over the decades and is perhaps the best-known symbol of the anti-nuclear movement. It has been translated into dozens of languages and copied and co-opted for every opposition movement possible.

The logo, which features the slogan "Nuclear Power? No Thanks" around a cheerful sun, was originally designed by the Danish activist Anne Lund in 1975. Within just a few years, the "Smiling Sun," as the logo is known, had been adopted by anti-nuclear movements around the world. Millions of badges and stickers featuring the symbol have been sold. And it is still as popular as ever: It has been ubiquitous at anti-nuclear demonstrations in Germany in recent years.

Lund never made money from her design, having signed over the rights to the Danish anti-nuclear group Organization for Information on Nuclear Power (OOA). The logo is registered as a trademark in the European Union and the United States.

Lund spoke to SPIEGEL about how the symbol was born and the anti-nuclear movement today.


SPIEGEL: You designed the famous "Nuclear Power, No Thanks" logo that has been seen at countless anti-nuclear demonstrations over the decades. You yourself have been fighting against nuclear power for 35 years. Do you now feel vindicated, after the accident at Fukushima and the decision by the German government to phase out nuclear power?

Lund: Unfortunately, yes. But Germany now has an opportunity.

SPIEGEL: What is that exactly?

Lund: The Germans are under pressure to develop new forms of energy. In this area, they can take the lead in terms of technology. German industry is well positioned to do so. Sure, (the transition to renewable energy) would be easier if we had changed course 20 or 30 years ago. But back then, opponents of nuclear power were considered crackpots.

SPIEGEL: You were among the first activists.

Lund : We were a small group. We did everything ourselves, even when we had no idea what we were doing.

SPIEGEL: Such as designing logos?

Lund : At the time, a demonstration was planned, but we lacked a symbol. Unfortunately, we did not have a graphic designer or artist in our group, so I took care of it. I sat down at my kitchen table with old wax crayons which I found somewhere and a block of paper.

SPIEGEL: Why did you choose a sun as a symbol?

Lund : Because the sun is above party politics. We did not want a logo that looked scary, but one that was positive, cheerful and above all polite. That's why we chose the slogan "nej tak," which is Danish for "no thanks."

SPIEGEL: How many times has the logo been copied?

Lund : About 20 million stickers and badges alone were sold. The text has been translated into some 50 languages. A few days ago, I found the very first orders. They are so touching: 10 units here, 20 there, handwritten orders from some activist group or other. I remember writing back to tell them that it would take a few more weeks until we had printed new buttons and stickers.

SPIEGEL: Did you get rich from it?

Lund : Not a bit! I transferred all the rights for the logo to the Danish anti-nuclear movement.

SPIEGEL: Do you sometimes regret doing that?

Lund : No. It would have seemed wrong to earn money from it. I never wanted to be a graphic artist or designer.

SPIEGEL: Why not?

Lund : Because I have no talent.

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