Branding a major new arts foundation.
The McEvoy Foundation for the Arts is the largest organization within San Francisco’s vibrant Minnesota Street Project arts community. Neither commercial gallery nor museum, the foundation presents a rich program of exhibitions, performances, and events free to the public, with much of the artwork coming from the exceptional McEvoy family collection. In 2017, we were commissioned to create a vision for the foundation that reflected their self-reliant and idiosyncratic approach to collecting. In the years since we have acted as ongoing creative partners and art-directors on promotional materials, signage, and the gallery’s digital presence.
- Brand Identity
- Brand Guidelines
- Creative Direction
- Website / UI / UX
- Type Development: OHNO
- Web Development: Kanopi
- Architects: Katkin
- Fabrication: Studio Roland
- Signage: Martin Sign
- Printer: Oscar Printing
Inspiration & Process
Having known Nion McEvoy, the founder of The McEvoy Foundation for many years, we knew him to be a music fan and supporter, as well as a musician himself—interests that are reflected in elements of the Foundation’s collections. When developing the identity system, along with directions that were consciously tasteful and ‘art world’ we also took inspiration from the history of psychedelic gig posters—most famously from the Fillmore Auditorium—and proposed some modern interpretations of this sort of weird and wonderful typography.
Typeface as Identity
The Foundation leaned towards the ‘Fillmore Type’ approach and we expanded our sketches from a few letterforms to an entire alphabet. Along the way we proposed centering the identity around a typeface, and with the Foundation’s approval, we contacted James Edmondson of OH no Type Co. to help refine and expand the face. Working with our original sketches, James brought consistency and legibility, and just general handsomeness to the typeface, first putting together an all-caps alphabet, and then using those core forms to create a lower-case and punctuation character set, as well as a thinner text weight. This distinctive typeface, called McEvoy, is the heart of the identity, and features prominently in materials and communications.
Identity in the Environment
As the 10,000 foot gallery space build-out neared completion, we had the opportunity to apply the McEvoy typeface within the space. Taking an approach of ‘loud+quiet’ this funky-chunky face was applied as 8-ft tall letters on the storefront, knocked out subtly from the window frosting. On the front desk it appears water-cut out of 1/4-inch thick steel; on the wall above in gloss white paint over flat white. As new exhibitions arrive, wall signage is designed to pair accordingly.
MFA on the www
As MFA expanded their offerings to include films and videos, performances, talks and panels, we helped to grow their website from a basic how-to-visit site to one that could accommodate their growing programming and archive. Particularly during the pandemic, MFA’s platform-responsive site became the primary source of communication and visitor engagement. Rather than fall back on a standard carousel for the feature section at the top of the site, we developed an expandable accordion of feature areas that animate dynamically as if flipping through an analog archive. We wanted the experience of visiting the website to reflect the unexpectedness and funkiness of MFA that we’d worked so hard to hone in on in the development of the identity.
Drawing on a source of original inspiration—the Fillmore gig posters—we proposed that MFA create a poster for each exhibition. The posters are almost always printed two-color and deploy the McEvoy typeface, but each is a unique work by a collaborating artist or designer. These have included Jason Munn, Lydia Ortiz, Chris DeLorenzo, Jon Sueda, Tucker Nichols, Olimpia Zagnoli, and Najeebah Al-Ghadban. Each poster is available as a free take-away memento for visitors to the gallery.