The backdrop for Scott Morrison's press conference on July 3.

The backdrop for Scott Morrison's press conference on July 3. Photo: Oliver Milman/Guardian Australia

Two weeks ago, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison walked into a room in Melbourne to tell awaiting media about a new border protection headquarters.

But the audience's attention couldn't help but drift to his side, to the striking "Border Force" backdrop.

Was the government parodying its own, yet-to-be-established Australian Border Force? The reaction on Twitter was, well, kind of crazy:

Yet that "logo" was not meant to be a logo at all; nor was it designed for the Coalition government (Customs first used it under Labor last year). Customs media staff tried to put the (faceless) genie back in the bottle, but these things tend to have a life of their own.

On Tuesday, The Canberra Times found the man behind that somewhat menacing symbol: Canberra graphic artist Byron Little, the creative director at 26 Hundred.

He had no idea of the brouhaha his work had caused.

"It's pretty funny all the things they've done with it, but [Customs] probably could have put a little more thought into what they were doing," he said.

The design - a small icon representing border officers - originally appeared on page 32 of a Customs report, Blueprint for reform: 2013 - 2018

"I was oblivious to how it was later used," Mr Little said. "If I was commissioned to design that pull-up banner, I would have used a completely different design.

"It was never meant to be a logo; it was just a small icon. It's been overemphasised and so I can understand the reaction."

The report's design and typesetting (which was nicely done) cost taxpayers $8905, a relatively modest fee for the work.

But with government agencies under pressure to spare every dollar they can, especially in public affairs and communications, Mr Little suggested that some financial savings exacted their own price.

"I guess this is what can happen when people don’t commission graphic designers and do things internally instead to try to save some money. Was it really worth it?"