How to work with a logo brief that was simply, 'No serif, no sans serif'

Moth Design has created the branding for Boston's newest contemporary art museum, MassArt Art Museum.

The free, public museum is part of Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), which was founded in 1873 and has long dreamed of having a museum on-site both for teaching and public purposes.

The MassArt team wanted something a bit different to the usual art institution look – simple, black and white logotypes – and with the designers at Moth concluded that the type used for the logo and branding assets should be something along the lines of "No serif, no sans serif".

What exactly should it be, then? Clearly, this was a project that required a bespoke font, so the team commissioned type foundry HEX's founder, the typographer and designer Nick Sherman, who graduated with honours from Graphic Design at MassArt before taking the Extended Program in typeface design at The Cooper Union.

He created MAAM Sans (looks like they ignored the "no sans" rule in the name, at least), which was inspired by the proportions of inscriptional lettering (also known as Roman square capitals) and gave them a dynamic modern twist. A key consideration for the logotype was that it had to look great and legible both in small applications like social media thumbnails and large billboards and exterior museum signage.

The typeface forms the basis of the four-letter logotype, which acts as a device that can be broken apart and re-assembled for various applications, as well as becoming a framing device for imagery. The idea was to create lettering that felt "alive", as a response to the contemporary nature of the works on show, which is seen across the museum's branding and marketing materials.

The branding also uses Beatrice and Stellar, which appear as secondary typefaces; with the overall feel characterised by bold colours and a sense of energy.

Moth Design created the museum's visual identity and brand messaging for its promotional materials, interior and exterior signage and wayfinding, merch, social platforms and more. It also worked on the UX design for the museum's website.

MassArt Art Museum, which opened last month, aims to be "a place to imagine the unimagined – to see what you haven't seen before," showing works by visionary contemporary artists. It will host temporary exhibitions showing work from a vast range of disciplines including site-specific installation pieces, photography, sculpture, painting and video games, with the current major exhibition.


Get the best of Creative Boom delivered to your inbox weekly