Sweet vs Shameful: Art Logos

The Diva’s kickin’ it old school, going back to my pithy early days of blogging focused on graphic design critique.

Women & Their Work

I heard about an opening at Women & Their Work tonight and went to their website for more information. The show, featuring terrifying yet cute fabric sculptures by Katy Heinlein, looked very interesting. “I’m so there!” I thought. Suddenly my eyes shot up to the bright yellow sun at the top of the webpage. “What is that – ah! A new logo!” And a good one, but I’ll get to that later. The old one never bothered me that much. In fact, I respected W&TW for choosing to stick with the campy, geometric face after all these years. It seemed to be one of the few identities I’d seen still in use incorporating everything that was good/bad about 80’s design. But the new one I like a lot too. For one, it’s much simpler. Zeroing in on the “W” not only gives eyes an strong, fun shape to linger on, it also helps to shorten the idea of the long-sounding name “Women & Their Work.” The yellow is also a bold choice, continuing the unique, standout impression their previous logo put forth. And this is exactly what a good logo does: it not only makes a visual statement, it connotes what the entity behind it does. Now, if they could just make their website cleaner, easier to navigate and not Flash-based!

Art Alliance Austin

I’ve been holding my tongue on it ever since I saw it unveiled last year, but I can’t think of a more apt opportunity to critique the Art Alliance Austin logo. It’s a lower-case “a” with the counter filled in, in “baby-puke green” (not my coinage, a real estate client once let that one loose on me about a logo I designed for him). While I don’t think it necessarily has to relay anything about Austin, art, or some kind of alliance, it should be at least interesting to look at. I’m well-aware the Pump Project logo I designed doesn’t convey anything about a pump or a project, but there’s at least some depth to it, and I constantly get complimented on it. The Art Alliance logo is a tragic fashion victim of the pseudo-cosmpolitan trendiness inherent in everything from the condos to ritzy franchises overtaking downtown. Who knows which way the market will go with these lofts in 5 years? The same goes for this logo – leaf green may be a hot color now (actually, I forsee color trends brightening to primary red, yellow, and blue, none this washed-out pansy brown, blue and green crap we’ve been seeing the last 3-4 years). It’s very flat in both appearance and concept. And when all one has to go on is appearances, all I have to say to that is, “Looks fade, honey.”


  • David

    We designed this logo. Long story, but that’s between the client and us. For the timeline, budget, and group of stakeholders we had to answer to, this was the best solution. I will say that this was a color the client applied – not in the color palette. Thanks for the feedback.

  • art diva

    David, Thank YOU for writing. Sorry it’s taken me awhile to respond, I’ve been sick/overwhelmingly busy for the past several days. Design is indeed a big compromise. I rarely post any design work I do for my dayjob (I’m an account rep/designer for a local printing company). For one, because it’s pretty uninteresting stuff most of the time, and secondly because the pieces I do have creative input on are still dictated by the customer’s tastes. I do hate having to wash my hands of putting something that I know it’s not as good as it could be into the world, and I don’t let it go without a fight. It’s very rare that I have full reign AND enough time to make something really cool at work. Luckily I have a fun outlet to experiment with at Pump Project.
    But yeah, this is definitely something they don’t even breathe a word about to you in art school: 25% of being a designer is the art itself, which I think comes naturally for us in choosing to mesh creativity into a career. But the other 75% is being able to work with people. You have to be an outstanding listener and communicator. You have to be part psychologist, part clairvoyant, part politician. You have to balance polar opposites within others and within yourself: the artist’s soul and the businessperson’s mind. You have to swallow your pride a lot.

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