Jesús López embodies the legacy of Martha’s Gardens with a typographically eccentric identity
Founded in 1990 by Nels and Martha Rogers, Arizona’s Yuma-based farm Martha’s Gardens grows and produces dates and date-related products like coconut rolls and spread. Despite being exported all across the globe, Martha’s Gardens sought influence closer to home, turning to Sonora-based creative Jesús López in pursuit of a refreshed identity inspired by the traditional, carefree and earnest aesthetics of the southwestern US and northern Mexico.
Alongside the illustrations of Rafael Fong, the resulting typographic identity is unapologetically eccentric and maximal – constructed of multiple typographic lockups that confidently culminate into a playful visual language. This eccentricity comes at the hand of a genuinely multifarious arsenal of typefaces, including Sign Maker JNL, Sunborn Sans, Heyday Sans, Sunmore, Burnest, The Dodger, Legion Rough and VFC Ogar; alongside bespoke monogram letters crafted by López. “The main idea behind the typeface selection and monograms was to invoke this kind of ‘mom and pop’s store’ feeling,” López tells us, reminiscent of hand-painted signs across small towns on the Mexico-US border. “Something nostalgic but not very retro/vintage,” he adds, “vibrant but not obnoxiously loud, more like playful, carefree and crafty.”
The notion of craft and heritage also significantly manifests in the monograms and symbols, similarly in line with the small-town feeling of the identity’s inspiration. “I thought using two monograms among the wordmark would be just the kind of thing that a ‘mom and pop’ would do if they ran a local store,” López suggests, “which is not being too rigid with the brand’s architecture and just go with their gut feeling,” freeing himself of graphic design or marketing experience. With this in mind, the colour palette is correspondingly less design-savvy. “The desert is always represented by muted, earthy colours, so I thought: fuck it,” López explains, “let’s go with a palette that is almost phosphorescent,” suggesting the impact of the clashing colours despite the issue of legibility. “Again, in my mind, that would be the kind of counterintuitive and carefree decision that our fictional mom and pop would make as non-experts,” he notes.
The authenticity and character of the identity are emboldened by contextually referential illustrations – palm trees due to the dates grown on them, mountains that represent the farm’s iconic scenery of the Yuma Valley and the sun to depict the desert environment of the farm. “Being the desert, the sun is a huge, inescapable force of nature that is forever present in the Sonoran desert people’s lives and minds,” López remarks. “I wanted to communicate our desert culture without the typical common tropes used ad nauseam,” he concludes, noting his avoidance of old western tropes à la cacti and tumbleweeds.