The NEA Goes to Work


If you watch PBS or visit a museum occasionally, you have been the beneficiary of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts. This government organization funds art for the benefit of American individuals and communities, usually through grants. Established by the United States Congress in 1965, the NEA has provided more than four billion dollars to support the arts in the United States.

The old logo design… what can we say? Government agencies such as this one rarely have logo designs that would be considered “good” in the corporate world. Our guess is that the flower image represented growth, while the circle ties in to the seal shape usually seen in official logo design. It’s not a great logo, especially considering that it represents an artistic institution.

The new logo design was created to represent the mantra of the NEA chairmen Rocco Landesman, “Art Works.” This motto has become the tagline and the unofficial name of the NEA. This new design may seem plain, but it is actually a far better representation of the organization’s current activities and aims. There was no art or style in the former logo, but the new one is sleek, modern, and proportionate. We like the way that three triangles form the A and W. If using everyday symbols to create beauty and meaning isn’t art, then what is?

Further, the three triangles represent the tri-fold meaning of the term Art Works: the actual works of art funded by the agency, the effect of art on the people who are exposed to it, and the actual work involved in creating art. These three areas sum up the work of the NEA, and the three triangles represent this work in a visual manner.

Bold and simple logo, the new logo will look great and maintain recognition factor in a variety of sizes, colors, and formats. The simple shapes mean that the art logo design can be easily and effectively animated for television and web marketing. Further, the logo is more artistic and thus a better representative of the NEA.

Balance is one of the factors that sets professional logo design apart from the work that comes from amateurs. This logo has a great balance. If you look closely, the space between the first and third triangles is made up of two triangles of the same proportion.

This new NEA logo raised a certain amount of brand controversy in the logo design world because it was developed as part of a logo design contest. While we are not big fans of the work that comes from these logo design contests and crowd sourcing, this contest was a little different that the average one. First, the award was high enough to attract professional designers to the job, in this case $25,000. In addition, because of the high profile of the NEA, a certain amount of clout and bragging rights come with the award. Second, it should be noted that the award winning logo design was given to a professional logo designer who runs her own agency. Professional designer=professional quality work.