At some point during our regular weekly project meeting on 17 September, Centre of Democracy Manager Nikki Sullivan mentioned the possibility of creating a branding system or even just a logo for the Queering the Museum (QtM) site and the project more generally. The only restrictions discussed were that it should be different from the logos used by the History Trust of South Australia (HTSA) and the Centre of Democracy and that it must be different from the logo on the site at that time, which looked something like the graphic below. (Please note that since the QtM site is not currently indexed by the Internet Archive I couldn’t download the original. The original may have had only three pillars.)
I went home and did a bit of playing in Illustrator to see what I could come up with. I had a sense that the Parthenon icon didn’t represent what the project is trying to do, which is to liberate the notion of knowledge and meaning-making from the constraints of institutional authority. If the image above is anything, it is constrained, right down to its prison bar pillars. Ultimately, I arrived at the following:
Thought process & influences
The new logo is simple and clean with a single bold colour for emphasis. Despite the caution against linking it too closely to the logos used by the History Trust and its properties, I followed my gut instinct that there should be some connection. The HTSA logo system is shown below:
The only logo that doesn’t follow the pattern is the one used by The Centre of Democracy.
The opportunity presented by the shape of the main HTSA logo (purple) was too good to pass up. To me, it’s reminiscent of a highly stylised letter Q, with the one squared corner at lower right serving as the Q‘s tail. I wanted to emphasise that pointed corner and thus turned the whole area into the black triangle.
The new logo’s colours and the triangle shape itself have roots in the LGBTQI+ struggle for equal rights and treatment. Although the pink used for the QtM logo is more vibrant, it is inspired by the “Silence = Death” protest poster from the 1980s. Avram Finkelstein, one of the activists involved in the poster’s creation, recounts that the original design was conceived as “an attack on [conservative author] William F. Buckley’s 1986 call for the surveillance tattooing of all HIV-positive people”.
For a full account of the poster’s genesis, see Avram Finkelstein’s story at Lithub:
SILENCE = DEATH: How an Iconic Protest Poster Came Into Being
To balance the bright pink block with the light modern typeface (Kuro) I hollowed out its centre, making it more obviously a Q and reducing its visual weight. This gave me the added advantage of being able to use the initial Q by itself as a frame for our social media posts promoting the website.
Happily, Nikki Sullivan and the team at the History Trust were delighted with the design. Education Manager Madelena Bendo pointed out that in addition to all the elements noted above, the initial Q also resembles a computer monitor, which is fitting for a collection hosted online.