Matthew Kaney at ITP


Visual Language


This week in visual design, we’ve been discussing logos. To begin, I’ve been poking around at the history of the DC Comics logo.

Variants collected by Comics Alliance.
Variants collected by Comics Alliance.

As a popular comic book publisher, DC has always had a clear visual identity, drawing on the stars and swooshes of their superhero titles. The most iconic is probably the 1976 “DC Bullet” logo, designed by Milton Glaser. In 2005, DC rebranded, replacing the logo with a much more dynamic swoosh that I feel is a bit over the top.

Two years ago, they rebranded again, revealing a new logo designed by Landor. When a single black and white version of the logo leaked, it met widespread criticism—the logo was too boring, the gradient looked bad, it lacked the excitement of the comics it came from.

DC Logo Variations Today

DC Logo on Comic Covers

Once DC announced the rest of the brand, I think these fears were unfounded. There are still problems (the gradient is pretty obnoxious), but the logo’s simplicity (a geometric “D” folding back like a page to reveal a “C”) makes it a great canvas for all sorts of experimentation.

In particular, the logo looks fantastic on the cover of comics. Tucked in the corner, with the logo’s left edge flush with the comic’s spine, the page metaphor becomes even more obvious. In the exact same corner of every DC title, the logo can subtly echo the color scheme of the page while standing apart—providing a simple, understated constant in an otherwise loud, changeable composition.

The second part of the assignment was to design a new logo for ITP, something that could represent the program both to people familiar and unfamiliar with the program. According to the creative brief, the logo should “reflect the rigor/seriousness of the program but also the creative and experimental nature of the program”.


After sketching out some ideas, I settled on the idea of “connection”. To me, the philosophy of ITP is all about making unconventional connections—between skills and viewpoints, between different disciplines, and between different technologies. I decided that the logo would be a series of juxtapositions—chance combinations of different icons representing aspects of ITP. I settled on the “t” as a plus sign that anchored the brand across logo variations.

Logo Type Experiments
A few type variations. I tried to not use Century Gothic (as this is my third week in a row to use it), but in the end, I couldn’t resist.

After figuring out the typography, I began hunting down icons from The Noun Project. Based on the weight and position of the “i” and the “p”, I established boundaries to ensure that all of the icons I chose would subtly reflect the proportions of these letters.

Quadrant of Logos

I don’t intend these variations to stand on their own. Rather, I see them being presented alongside the logo (see above), or in an more interactive context (hover over the logo to the left). At smaller scale, I feel like the wordmark could also stand on its own.

All the icons came from the Noun Project, which licenses their icons for free under Creative Commons, with attribution.

Computer by Daniel Shannon. Microchip by Arthur Shlain. Puppet by Juan Pablo Bravo. Drill Press by jon trillana. Tree by Ferran Brown. Yarn by Marie Coons. Cell Phone by Joris Hoogendoorn. Handset Phone by Juan Pablo Bravo. Television by Alexandria Eddings. Radio Tower by iconoci. Bacteria by Maurizio Fusillo.

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