Established in 2009 as Kentucky School of Art, the newly renamed Kentucky College of Art + Design (KyCad for short; pronounced “kai-cad”) offers BFA degrees in Digital Media, General Fine Arts, Graphic Design, Interdisciplinary Sculpture, and Painting and Drawing through an affiliation with Spalding University. The new identity for the relaunched school was designed by Lexington, KY-based Bullhorn.
Combining the capabilities and quality of a large institution with the personality and intimacy of a small school, KyCAD is a true rebel in the stodgy, old school art education landscape.
Our identity demonstrates this revolutionary sensibility rooted in a practical foundation. The central mark starts with that foundation and builds out. Its main motif borrows from the school’s mission statement: “We open the door to a creative and rewarding life through higher education in the visual arts.”
Used on its own, framing student work, or applied by hand - this mark is multi-various and dynamic. The colors are unexpected and energetic. And the language is confident. In short, this identity reflects the personalities of those drawn to this unique place.
The old logo was trying way too hard to come across as artsy with some wobbly Sharpie typography inside some kind of poorly rasterized texture circle. It did get the point across of being an art school but in a cheesy way. The new logo aims to be taken more seriously. Perhaps too seriously. I have read the description from Bullhorn a number of times and I’m still not sure what it actually is, if anything. It’s not a door, it’s not a “K” on its back, it’s not a canvas… It wants to be minimal but I’m not sure a minimal version of what that would be. Nonetheless, it’s an intriguing icon and its airiness works well with the spaced out typography and generous use of white space found throughout the applications. (Although the white space is very colorful). The wordmark is cool with the distinctive “y”.
In application, the identity goes on color-assault mode with a vibrant palette of color-on-color in tune with today’s trend. I know some hate it; I still enjoy it. The other main hook is the underlined text that, although on paper should be cool, somehow makes all the pieces look unfinished and I think it might have to do with the underline being in its default InDesign setting where the line sits too close to the type and can usually benefit from additional padding as well as adding a stroke to the type so that the line doesn’t overlap with the descenders. Maybe the look was intentional, of course, then that’s that. Overall, the identity does manage to come across as more Art School than Business School without having to be wacky-creative.