Establish guidelines and visual language for the nascent Black Media Studies website which incorporates and celebrates the African diaspora.
Create a visual guideline for website so future student aids can build upon in the future. This includes logo, color palette, type, and social media templates.
Black Media Studies (BMS) is a multidisciplinary area of scholarship that bricolages a variety of approaches and methods to study the relationships between media, culture, and racial politics, particularly as it relates to people of African descent. BMS is also interested in the use of digital technologies to design and make media that connects to the cultural practices of black people. The primary client was Dr. Susana Morris, a scholar of Black Feminism, Black Digital Media and Afrofuturism and an associate professor at Georgia Tech.
What I worked on
- Logo design
- Social media templates
What I learned
I learned how to develop a visual identity in a short amount of time. Since the project took place in a month, I learned how to quickly dive into my client’s needs and represent that as quickly yet accurately. I continued to build upon my visual design skills in creating a visual language that represents an ideology. Additionally, how to design a logo, color palette and templates that are cohesive and work to tell a story.
The Design Process
Create a mood board to align with client’s vision
I first researched prominent Black artists of the modern age whose work has blended media, culture, and racial politics. I looked for inspiration from Spike Lee’s films, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frank Ocean, and Amy Sherald.
Jazz is a cultural expression that greatly influenced society which I believed to be a ripe candidate to inspire this work as BMS focuses on the connection between media, culture and racial politics. I specifically studied the designs of vinyl record covers of jazz musicians from the 1950s-1960s. A main source of inspiration were the records released from Blue Note Records.
Additionally, I found inspiration from Afrofuturism visuals like Black Panther, photography and collage. Dr. Morris is a scholar of Afrofuturism, so I thought incorporating these elements ties well into the mission of the scholarship.
My mother-in-law is a quilter and introduced me to the American tradition of The Gee’s Bend quilts. I believed this rich and long history of enslaved women using scraps of cloth to keep warm yet creating unique and magnificent pieces of textile arts would be a great source of inspiration.
Clarify the direction
I informed Dr. Morris that my goal in the direction was to not simply pick on visual style and build upon it, but combine them to inform a modern style that will work well in the digital space. She appreciated my work and agreed the mood board is in the right direction.
The next step in the process was to combine those elements to fine tune color palettes typography in order to narrow down the visual style of BMS. I did this by selecting a few images for color inspiration and created quick social media templates using Canva. I created five distinct themes that I believed the website could use.
Theme 1: Artistic / Bright and Bold
Theme 2: Afrofuturist / calm yet bright
In this theme, I leaned more towards Afrofuturist and internet aesthetic with curvy lines, lime greens, and gradients. As much as I enjoyed this theme, the color combinations in text were not accessible and difficult to read.
Theme 3: Gee’s Bend Quilts
I was heavily inspired by the Gee’s Bend quilts. I used colors within a quilt to influence the color palette. Further, I used the shapes within the quilt to create design elements and a potential logo. I believe the color palette was easier to read versus Theme 2, yet the logo was still illegible.
Theme 4: Jazz + Quilts
For theme four, I combined elements from the jazz records and one Gee’s Bend quilt. Specifically, the color palette was taken from the quilt and the circle motif and design elements were inspired by jazz albums.
Dr. Morris and I confirmed that Theme 4 encapsulated the correct visual tone for the website. It was bold yet calm and easy to read which was our priority. I moved forward with this color palette and theme to inspire the design of the logo and other design elements.
Keeping the logo and visual aesthetic research in mind, I took pencil to paper and began to sketch. My goal was to use this inspiration to develop a new logo for BMS that has lineage to Georgia Tech and the African diaspora.
Illustrator – First Round
Illustrator – Final Round
I narrowed down the logos to the nine I believed had the most potential. I define potential as logos with clear shape and text and incorporated the visual aesthetic of BMS. For this round, I visualized the logo in different scales to better determine legibility. I selected the three circles as the logo that would work best for this project. It incorporated the movement from the jazz albums, they are flexible because they can be spread apart but still legibile, and would work well in a small scale.
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