Project: Identity, for Marie Watt Studio

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Marie Watt Studio
Identity

A sophisticated visual identity for a sculptor

Artists are in business. Any working artist will admit this; it’s others who insist that art, like religion, must somehow be separate from worldly concerns. And while the work may be the largest part of the communicative relationship between artist and patron,  it is not the only part. Olafur Eliasson probably understands this best of contemporary artists, who counts a small communications firm among his 50+ employees.

In developing an identity program for the Iroquois sculptor Marie Watt, we sought to follow Mr. Eliasson’s example, albeit at Ms. Watt’s smaller scale. The first principle is clarity: the work must show without external sentiment. Often, designers will seek to “interpret” an artist’s work visually. Ms. Watt, though Native American, is a contemporary artist first and foremost. We framed her work using whitespace and disciplined, austere typography; the same principles we followed in designing her catalogue Lodge.

Working papers

A basic set of working papers, executed in one-color lithography and one-color letterpress. Ms. Watt works largely in secondhand wool blankets, a great many of which are pink. We studied the weaving schemes from several of her blankets and printed the resulting patterns in pink via offset on a 24 × 36″ master page, which we cut down into letterhead, envelopes, business cards and other pieces, then re-imprinted by letterpress. The result is crafty and austere, with a nod to traditional designs.

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Web development

In developing the content strategy for Ms. Watt’s Web site, we adopted the model of the catalogue raisonné. The idea was to show every piece of Ms. Watt’s work we could lay hands on, carefully annotated and generously illustrated. We couldn’t do all of this ourselves, so we had to implement a content management system that her staff could continue to update the site as reproductions surfaced and new work was made. The site also features a complete archive of Ms. Watt’s reviews: good, bad and indifferent. Many of the older pieces never made it onto the Web or have been lost. Part of our charge was developing a system by which older writings could be archived.

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Visual pages

The index page of Ms. Watt’s Web site (top right) features a short biography, complete contact information both for her studio and her dealers, a regularly-updated news column and image showing what she’s working on currently.

At bottom left, the reader can navigate Ms. Watt’s oeuvre by conceptual thread; eventually, we will be able to reassemble old shows by checklist.

At bottom right, is one of the conceptual thread pages, showing the artist’s statement and annotated illustrations of work.

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Textual pages

At top, the artist’s complete CV, in live text for search purposes; a well-formatted printable version can be downloaded as a PDF. At bottom, an unabridged archive of critical writings, which will eventually hold every preview, review and interview regarding Ms. Watt’s work without predjudice to a critic’s opinion.

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