Earlier this year I had the pleasure of meeting Lincoln Jones and Theresa Farrell—respectively the Artistic and Associate Directors of Los Angeles’ American Contemporary Ballet. They describe themselves as producing “original contemporary classical ballets in Los Angeles, California–works that are built upon the foundation of classical ballet, and which extend the art into our own time”. When we first met their studio space was less than ideal, but it wasn’t long after meeting them before they lucked into a fantastic space on Wilshire Boulevard directly across from the main entrance to LACMA. At the time they had a professionally designed logo that did the job, but their new space presented them with a challenge: outside, directly in front of their floor-to-ceiling windows was a fountain, and centered in the fountain was a large, white, blank “monument” whose purpose obviously was to support signage for whoever was the tenant of the space behind it. Occupying their beautiful new space, and realizing that the “monument” in the fountain was the wrong proportion for their existing logo, Lincoln and Theresa asked me if I’d be interested in designing a new logo that would also work for them as signage. Lincoln described the process of our working together on this project:
Well, in case you were wondering how anyone could tell very much from the thumbnail above, I did “fill in” quite a bit with a verbal description of what I was envisaging. I went back to the studio and subsequently started developing that very loose thumbnail into a design that was a bit more coherent—
Then taking it several steps further, I digitized it in Adobe Illustrator, trying to make it work with several different iterations:
…but for various reasons I was less than happy with where this design was going. At this point I’ll let Lincoln take over, describing what happened next:
I had decided to keep the script lettering of the word “Contemporary”, but shifted it to read along a horizontal plane instead of moving upwards at an angle, and I had decided to simplify the words “American” and “Ballet”, rendering them in my adaptation of one of my favorite fonts Bernhard Gothic. Making these rather large alterations didn’t totally change the nature of what I had imagined for the logo, but helped to make it more legible and coherent—especially from a distance. So this is how it worked out in the fountain in front of their new studio space:
I also convinced them to use a second color scheme on the “monument”, alternating on its sides. I felt that this should be a “living logo” that could perhaps change appearance if its immediate environment called for an adaptation.
Lincoln continues by saying: “Despite the fact that it was a highly different approach, I again felt that it beautifully represented our company, and was a strong expression of our values, in addition to being a standout design. I love having it out in front of our building, and as our new logo. It still catches me by surprise, and delights me when I walk by our building.”
More recently we made another adaptation of the logo to work with a beautiful painting created for their 2014 Season by our mutual friend Kenton Nelson. I felt that the color logo would detract from the beautiful simplicity of Kenton’s work, and so created a one color version. I then organized all the information along the bottom in boxes whose colors were derived from Kenton’s palette—note that all the copy set at the bottom of the poster is set in my font DeLuxe Gothic:
A better look at that one-color version—note the details where “Contemporary” goes over or falls under the adjacent words:
And here are a 2 color and a 1 color T-shirt design created using just the logo:
Lincoln concludes by saying:
For those of you who would like to read more of what Lincoln Jones has to say about his ballet company, his philosophy, and about this design, I’ve included his lengthier statement below.