IN-House

Warfield Center:
25 Posters and Counting

We were invited to create a visual system for just one of the annual campaigns of the Warfield Center at UT Austin — but the system we built would mark the beginning of a larger initiative to help elevate the Center’s profile campus-wide.

The John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, commonly known as “The Warfield”, is the research and programming division of the Black Studies community at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center’s research is dedicated to the intellectual, political, artistic, and social development of people of African descent in the African Diaspora, as well as the African continent. Additionally, The Warfield has developed a wide-ranging art collection that spans from African objects, to work from contemporary artists worldwide — including a digital research and reference collection of artworks, video, sound and documents that includes tens of thousands of images.

The Warfield Center knew that the design had to stand out in the right way to be effective. The vision for the campaign: “sleek, warm, dynamic, inviting, bold, colorful, artistic, proactive” while at the same time conveying values / personality of a brand that is “culturally relevant, politically and socially conscious, taste makers, community leaders, intellectual powerhouse, community driven, student centric, influential.”

Ultimately, the goal of this campaign was to help elevate the status of the Warfield Center, to make it stand out among its top peers across the country.

BrandingIllustration & LetteringPrint & Editorial

The Warfield approached us to create the visual identity of its 2019 Spring Campaign. The programming includes art exhibitions, book discussions, movie nights, dance parties, and religious events. We needed to develop a campaign identity that could quickly capture the attention of students, faculty and staff, communicate the identity of the Warfield, and stand out in the ocean of materials plastered around campus. The campaign’s design also had to be nimble enough to support the many different kinds of events taking place at the Warfield through the year.

Few places present more challenges in the fight for an audience’s attention than a university campus: every surface seems to be plastered with materials. After exploring campus to review the landscape, we settled on a system that’s anchored on two visual devices:

1) Flipping the hierarchy of information by placing focus on human figures and making the event title and information the second and third focal points, respectively. The idea was to draw people in for a closer read, to create interest by signaling the vibe of the event and the Warfield graphically, which is in sharp contrast with the typography-heavy flyers and posters all over campus.

2) Using typography and color in cool, unexpected ways–helping frame the tone of the events as open, creative and aligned with cutting-edge research and practices. The visual direction is a bold graphic departure from the visual identity of most academic events on campus, communicating the high quality of the programming in the process.

We developed a full system that became the new standard for the Warfield’s communications, and has been used in a series of applications such as print flyers, print posters, e-mail newsletters, website banners, environmental and more.

Once the system and its parameters were set, we were able to deliver materials for different events and publications relatively quickly. Thanks to this system, the campaign system is still ongoing, and we have been invited to design the 50th Year Anniversary logo (featured in the tote bag at the top of this post), branding for podcasting projects, for other institutes, and more. A true partnership which we greatly enjoy at the studio.

We loved the posters and the colors were exactly what we wanted! This is all very exciting!

Stephanie Lang

Program Administrator, John L. Warfield Center