Established in 1998, Free Arts NYC is a nonprofit organization that “provides underserved children and families with a unique combination of educational arts and mentoring programs that help them to foster the self-confidence and resiliency needed to realize their fullest potential” through a series of programs in New York developed for all ages, from early childhood to youth to teens. To help the organization grow, Free Arts NYC introduced a new identity — involving New York’s creative community — designed by New York-based Red Peak Branding.
In April of 2012 the A to Z Project was created to rally the creative community around the belief that art education is transformational and should be available to everyone. We asked 45 premier artists, illustrators, typographers and designers to lend their talents to create a letter, number or symbol.
A collection of playful and diverse artworks that represent what our programs instill in the youth we serve, the capacity of the arts to give life to an authentic, creative voice. Our rebrand welcomes a fresh identity and renewed momentum to further impact the lives of underserved children and families throughout New York City.
That poor old logo suffered from so many clichés and bad execution that, because of its well-intended nature, it’s almost not fair to criticize it. Almost not fair. It followed the same old formula that logos for kids need to look as if they were drawn by kids even though it’s the adults who make the decision to engage with the product or service. The painted-hand icon? Cute but boring. And the scribbled font for “Free Arts” paired with the Tekton-set “NYC”? No comment. But as we all know, nonprofits rarely have the budget on launch to start with a formal identity which always makes the story so much better and fulfilling when they redesign, specially with a feel-good approach like this one.
Built from a hodgepodge alphabet contributed by 45 different people that would appear to be un-mixable, Red Peak Branding has done a great job in bringing all these styles and mediums together into a surprisingly cohesive identity — this could have turned out a real mess but the relatively rigid deployment of the overly rich letterforms proved to be a great approach. The result is an image that doesn’t feel clichéd to their niche and, although it might start to seem just a tad highfalutin for the main audience of underserved families, the identity now has a much more appealing and grown-up presence that should appeal to both the families that will use the organization and the people who will be donating to it.