Contributed by Raffi Der Simonian, director of marketing & communication at Maine College of Art.
A collaboration between internationally known professional graphic designers and a select group of MECA design faculty and majors has resulted in a new visual identity for a historic institution that has been a pillar of the New England arts scene since 1882.
MECA’s new mark reflects the institution’s strongest assets: an extraordinary community of artistically-gifted individuals and a mission dedicated to promoting academic excellence, creative entrepreneurship, and civic engagement.
The new mark is the culmination of combined efforts that transpired over three full (14-16 hour) days hosted on campus in early February, 2013. The entire process, however, has taken much longer. Development for the logo has been in process for several years. We were about to introduce a mark co-produced by Pentagram in August, however decided not to on the grounds that it compromised one of our strongest inherent brand assets: the power of positioning MECA as core to our visual identity. After the three day design intensive charrette, we tested and investigated variations and applications for another two months or so.
Orchestrated under the guidance and vision of internationally known designer, Eddie Opara, partner at Pentagram (the world’s largest interdisciplinary design firm) and MECA graphic design faculty led by professors Margo Halverson and Charles Melcher, a group of MECA graphic design majors were selected to participate. According to Eddie Opara, “The whole process is to establish a way that the students can start to understand how the real world actually works.”
Professor Charles Melcher noted, “This is an avant-garde approach to developing an institutional identity that, to the best of our knowledge, has never before been attempted in North America. What better way to celebrate MECA’s mission than through creating an unprecedented legacy that highlights the college’s creative force and trust and support for our students and faculty.”
Inspired by MECA’s distinctive sense of place and the critical role MECA serves as an anchor in the Arts District of Portland Maine, the new visual identity captures the creative energy that pours out of the historic Porteous building 24/7 into our increasingly interconnected local and global communities.
Porteous building in 1946, credit
Rebecca Swanson Conrad, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, believes that the introduction of a new visual identity is a historic moment for MECA. She said, “The purpose of developing a new mark that more effectively communicates the vibrant pulse of our community is not only to cultivate unity and a sense of pride, but to reaffirm the common thread that holds us all together as a greater sense of whole.”
“The uncommon process employed to develop MECA’s new mark exemplifies creative problem-solving at its finest and underscores the distinctiveness of what makes this such a special place.” said MECA President Donald Tuski. “Not only does our logo signify the unparalleled educational experience and wealth of professional development opportunities found at MECA, it also symbolizes several of our most important defining attributes: the five-pronged ‘E’ represents the five core tenets of our educational philosophy statement —studio, agency, place, community, and ethics; the five floors of the historic Porteous building; and the five educational areas — BFA, MFA, Art Ed, Continuing Studies, and Pre-College, while paying tribute to the iconic red stairwell that unifies each of the departments and majors.”
The following video outlines the process (as well as a few of the other lead concepts).
Graphic design major Sarah Mohammadi was honored and proud to have been involved in such an important project. “Having the opportunity to work with professional designers and faculty members on a project that had never been done before was truly amazing. As a student, being part of the collaboration that rebranded the school we represent was an experience that is irreplaceable. It was an experience that none of us will ever forget and we all will be proud of for years to come.”
Participating students: Carly Soos, Celia Packard, Dan Heutz, Hannah Sherwood, Kaitlin Callender, Klarizza Cruz, Lucy Henson, Nicole Holmes, Sarah Mohammadi.
Photo credit: Gabriella Sturchio.
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