Case Study: Art After Hours Identity

Art After Hours identity

The Challenge

The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) was kicking off a new series of Friday night events targeted at young adults to have fun, drink, dance, socialize, and see art! Art After Hours needed a strong, bold identity that could convey this playful vibe to its target audience and get them excited to come out to these events.

Our challenge: To create an identity that conveys the spirit of this new event series—social, convivial, playful, collaborative, flirtable, surprising, and Instagram-worthy—including a stand-alone logo/mark that could be broken out and used on all types of marketing. The identity would be used immediately in an ad in Baltimore’s City Paper, so the client asked to see the initial concepts within the context of the ad.

The Process

Inspiration & Information Gathering

As is always the case, the first step was to gather lots of information and ideas. The client provided lots of background information and inspiration for reference. That was super helpful to know the direction to go in. Here are some examples:

Inspiration example 1Inspiration example 2 Inspiration example 3Inspiration example 4

Another great thing is that the museum already has a fun and bright color palette:

BMA Color Palette

Design Options

The client asked for two directions for the identity. For this project, I spent a lot of time brainstorming and used a word cloud to help follow different threads of thought. Here are some of my brainstorming notes and sketches:

IMG_1955_310x413Sketches

After this, I did a bunch of inspiration searching of my own based on various ideas I had come up with. I also remembered a modern art exhibit I had recently seen showcasing pieces artist Dan Flavin had created using florescent tube lights. Here is his “Monument 1 for V. Tatlin” (my photo), as well as other inspiration images I found (click for source):

Inspiration example 7Inspiration example 5 Inspiration example 6 Inspiration example 8

Now I had a lot of inspiration, but there was still a lot of work to do to turn the inspiration into actual designs. I tried several of the different directions, but unfortunately, some designs that seem so perfect on paper just don’t end up working in real life. I finally narrowed it down to two:

Concept #1

Since several of the inspiration images used a triangle design, we decided to follow that theme for one of the options. The challenge here was to convey excitement as well as nightlife within the confines of a grid based on triangles. It was a little tricky to figure out how to treat the text within this design. Here’s how the original concept turned out:

Triangle concept

Concept #2

We used the modern art to guide this idea, using virtual tube lights to spell out the word “ART” and guide the eye through the information. We even included electric cords to “plug the lights in.” Here’s how this concept looked:

Lights concept

The Final

The client really loved the neon concept and we went through a few rounds of changes to strengthen the concept, adding more emphasis to the “After Hours” and refining the design. Here’s how the final ad looked:

ArtAfterHours_release

We also did a promotional card to hand out:

ArtAfterHours_flier_frontArtAfterHours_flier_back2

The designers at the BMA then took the art files and produced several more signage and marketing pieces as needed.

The Results

The first Art After Hours event sold out quickly and built excitement for the subsequent ones. Pictures speak louder than words to show the results of this project… (Photography by Maximilian Franz) See all the photos on Facebook.

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Client Response

I had a terrific experience hiring Chandra to develop the graphic identity for The Baltimore Museum of Art’s new event series, Art After Hours. We had about a week to concept and refine the logo and an ad, and Chandra delivered! She was able to zero in on the vibe of the event with our target audience in mind, offer several creative concepts, and respond quickly to feedback to deliver us the perfect identity within our strict timeframe. Thanks to Chandra’s strong logo design, word of the first Art After Hours event spread like wildfire and all 500 tickets sold out in a matter of days! Due to the first event’s success, we were able to expand our capacity to 750 tickets for our second and third events, which also sold out. This measurable success means the BMA will be bringing back the Art After Hours series in Fall of 2016 and continue connecting with new audiences that are integral to the Museum’s future growth.

To date, the Art After Hours series has received press from Baltimore Sun, City Paper, BmoreArt, Baltimore Magazine, ABC2 News, and many other outlets. The fact that we’ve had extreme success selling out the event to exactly our target audience is a direct result of Chandra’s ability to translate the goals and values of the event series into a graphic identity that appeals to our target audience. I highly recommend working with Chandra when you need professional branding and design work that doesn’t just look good, but will produce measurable results!

—Megan McCarthy, Senior Designer, Baltimore Museum of Art