“Art is essential to democracy” is the message of The Federation, a coalition of artists, art organizations and allies formed to keep cultural borders open and fight the defunding of the arts. Co-founded by the artists Laurie Anderson, Laura Michalchyshyn and Tanya Selvaratnam, initially in response to Trump’s travel ban, the collective is a non-partisan platform for civic engagement, discourse and direct action for artists, a place where they can put their energy for change and show how art can unite us. Pentagram has designed an engaging and impactful brand identity and website for the group, and collaborated on its messaging and social media.
Pentagram worked closely with The Federation on the pro-bono project alongside brand strategist Debbie Millman and website developers The Couch. The identity launched with a nationwide Art Action Day planned as a sister event to the 2018 Women’s March. The Federation is affiliated with For Freedoms and its 50 State Initiative network of artists and institutions who are producing public art installations, exhibitions, town halls and other events ahead of the midterm elections.
The strong and simple identity centers on a letter “F” with a slash through it, representing the actions The Federation is taking to resist the travel ban and defunding of the arts. The logo holds its own alongside other protest symbols, and most importantly, can be easily recreated and drawn by protesters on signs and other materials. The mark is a powerful symbol, and can be used as a diagonal earmark at the top left corner of collateral as well as art and protest images, instantly branding them as part of The Federation. Typography is set in the high-impact Druk Superweight, and the color palette is cyan and red-orange, a nod to political red and blue without being an exact representation.
Working with The Federation, Pentagram created a toolkit of materials and swag to fight the good fight, including eye-catching buttons, stickers, postcards and assets for social media. The buttons are designed to look like mini protest signs, and the strong typography of the logo is carried throughout the collateral. The team helped develop slogans like “I am Fed up” (a play on the classic “I Am a Man” signs) and designed relevant quotes about art, politics and culture from writers and artists like James Baldwin, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ai Weiwei. Social media is a key element of the identity, and the team created an arsenal of shareable graphics to spread the word, including a countdown to Art Action Day and gifs of animated type that illustrate song titles from a Spotify playlist curated by Laurie Anderson.