McCarthy’s identity system for the Arts Foundation allows space for artists to make their mark
Christchurch-based design studio McCarthy has come out from the woodwork after quietly working away on some beautiful brand identities and campaigns, with the reveal of their new identity design for the Arts Foundation (Te Tumu Toi). In approaching McCarthy to rebrand the programme initially, they also helped to cement the institution’s position within New Zealand as an active supporter of young artists and thereby also contributing to inspiring the next generation of creatives.
Not rejecting the foundation’s past, McCarthy began with holding on to the original calligraphic logo, illustrated by letterer Sarah Maxey in 2009, in keeping with their principle of ‘backing artists to make their mark’. This idea was further typographically explored, considering the conceptual representation of perception and perspective through the editorial relationships between information. “The idea of making your mark”, McCarthy’s Creative Director Matt Kitto explains, “is something that every person that interacts with the brand has the opportunity to do”. He elaborates, telling us that “for the artist, it may be taking paint to canvas”, and “for the awards sponsor, it’s the ability to make a real difference to the life of an artist”, but “for the rest of us, it’s the ability to add to the conversation about the importance of the arts in society”.
At the core of the brand identity is the typeface NB Akademie, a consistency across the entire system, providing a bold security to the brand that any further superfluous changes, such as the colours, ‘mark motif’ and typographic styling interact with. The “masterbrand”, as coined by Kitto, leans into the simplicity and style of NB Akademie via a three-pronged structure; a tonally muted colour palette, centred text and their fluid mark. The harmonious combination of these elements and the utmost consideration result in an extremely successful identity that does enough to stand out from the crowd, without detracting from the brand and its principles. To this end, Kitto explains that “we were always cautious of pushing the identity too far with the likes of illustration or brand imagery”, noting that “we set out to create an identity that complimented the art, rather than fought with it for attention”.
Under the umbrella of the Arts Foundation also lies seven sub-brands, including Arts Ball and Arts Month, each with the intention of having their own personality and style whilst still keeping the continuity of the over-arching brand. This was implemented primarily through the strong variation in colour alongside typographic treatment, and truly provides a wondrous opportunity to stretch and demonstrate the capabilities of the brand. Arts Ball – a more recent initiative that throws artists and philanthropists into the same room for an evening of drinking and dancing – for example, uses an energetic fluorescent yellow that is elegantly coupled with their stripped-back typography.
Working on not just the aesthetics but the campaigns too, McCarthy developed the concept of ‘Art Is:’ for Art Month, a month-long event organised by the Arts Foundation. The interactive and grass-roots nature of the campaign, encouraging the public and artists to write, draw and generally express what they believe art to be, comes as a result of the intention to bring a wider array of voices to the arts. Here, the typography is moved to the periphery in order to give prominence to the public contributions, found online, in coffee shops, schools and more.