“PEN American Center (PEN), founded in 1922 and based in New York City, works to advance literature, to defend free expression, and to foster international literary fellowship. The Center has a membership of 3,300 writers, editors, and translators. PEN American Center is the largest of the 144 centers that belong to PEN International, the worldwide association of writers that defends those who are harassed, imprisoned and killed for their views. PEN American Center is one of two PEN centers located in the USA, the other is PEN Center USA in Los Angeles, it covers the USA west of the Mississippi.” (Wikipedia)
The mark is suggestive both of an open book to symbolize our identity as a literary organization driven by a community of writers and of a thought bubble to demonstrate our wider embrace of the free flow of ideas. The tagline—"The Freedom to Write"—will be familiar to many longtime supporters, speaking to the powerful, liberating act of creation and to the challenges to this work that too many of us face.
Images (opinion after)
The old logo was fine. More like an extended tagline and forgettable but, mostly, fine. The new logo attempts to be a lot more memorable but in doing so it's trying too hard. The speech bubble-slash-book device is almost interesting but the execution is confusing. The speech bubble comes across easily but the book not so much and the gaps in the graphic that I guess are meant to be the spine of the book are very weirdly aligned on the left side, with nothing aligning with anything. The use of Neutraface gives it an unnecessary (and inappropriate) vintage/mid-century modern aesthetic that feels like it's setting the organization back 50 years in time, making it look anything but progressive. This is the kind of logo that would benefit from some basic Gotham action, allowing the icon to do the heavy-lifting. (Unfortunately, in this case, the icon isn't solid enough on its own). The use of the icon as a holder for other text is no surprise and a little dull. The one cool thing is the poster and not so much because of the logo but because a red overlay on a cool photo of books will look good no matter what. Overall, nothing offensive or annoying, just very ho-hum for an organization that could get away with something more interesting.
Thanks to Theodore Bouloukos for the tip.