Calum Harbison Design Portfolio


Layering Sun

Established in 1977, the California African American Museum (CAAM) in Los Angeles, CA, is dedicated to “research, collect, preserve, and interpret for public enrichment the history, art, and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States”. Chartered by the State of California — the first African American museum of art, history, and culture fully supported by a state — its permanent collection consists of over 4,000 objects ranging from the 1800s to the present and includes paintings, photographs, film, sculpture, historical documents, and artifacts. CAAM recently introduced a new identity designed by LA-based Julia Luke Design.

"One of the goals was to create a timeless identity, one that would have its foundation rooted not only in CAAM’s independent and rich history, but fundamentally in the art, history, and culture of African Americans, California, and at it’s heart—Los Angeles.

To achieve a rich and complex visual identity, we drew from a broad selection of inspiration. The unique logo letterforms come directly from activism graphics, most notably the iconic “I Am a Man” poster that figured prominently in the 1968 Memphis sanitation strike.

The sun references several icons of modern and contemporary art and life, including murals at the Mafundi Institute, the cultural academy that was the center of an African American renaissance in Los Angeles after the 1965 Watts Rebellion."

In application the sun and wordmark work best when they are either completely separated as in the business cards or layered one on top of the other as in the exterior. The in-between state as in the banners is where I feel it’s less successful, although those split banners are very nicely resolved! Overall, this is a really strong update with great points of reference built into the logo and a couple of striking identity elements that make the museum easily identifiable and distinct from others.

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