PROCREATE, PHOTOSHOP, ILLUSTRATOR. APRIL 2019.
As well as designing the ring, every year's RingComm is challenged with developing its own visual identity — its own brand, for lack of a better word.
The design of the logo was, in my opinion, the litmus test for our committee's decision-making. We were a group of strangers thrust into a room, with the weight of our class' legacy and memories of MIT resting on our shoulders, each with our own ideas and our own talents. I am very proud to say that I think we passed this test splendidly. (Fun fact: we are the first RingComm to have submitted our own, fully-fledged vector logo.)
RingComm Logo 2022
Designer: Erica Liu
Note: the original presentations did not have the names in them, as we wanted to make our decision on the basis of the design and not the designer. For the purposes of this portfolio, credit has been given accordingly. I also present the designs in the form of a presentation, the same way RingComm saw them during the decision process.
RingComm logos typically consist of a form of custom silhouette typography. The iconic shape of the MIT Brass Rat is thus comprised of the last two (or in the case of the 2014 RingComm logo, all four) numerals of the class graduation year. In recent years, committees have tended away from more filigree logos, and towards chunkier ones. These stand up well against a complex image background and are easy to print on merchandise like wine glasses and jackets.
In summary, our goals:
Make it look like the Brass Rat
Make it look like the number 22
Make it instantly recognisable
Make it compatible with merchandise (embroidery, printing, web)
The objective of the initial designs was to gather as many ideas as we could. The important thing for us was that everyone, whether they had access to design software or not, could inform the direction in which the logo design would go. This is a compilation:
TRADITIONAL... OR NOT?
The final decision boiled down to whether we would opt for a logo design more inspired by the '21 logo, or something completely different. There were two contending themes:
Origami Ring: Natasha Hirt
Traditional Ring: Erica Liu
Both designs have merit. One great thing they have in common is that their silhouettes are drawn directly from the geometry of the brass rat, and are true to the three-dimensionality of it. In most other respects, including how they represent that three-dimensionality, they are quite different.
I drew up the origami ring largely because I wanted to provide a visual counterpoint to our precedents. Instead of considering the ring as a solid chunk of metal, I wondered what would happen if we deconstructed it and rebuilt it out of paper sheets. What is the minimum material a brass rat needs to be considered a brass rat? The final design is filigree, more an idea or a dream than a solid figure. The empty space inside waits to be filled with each person's individual aspirations. I was also attracted by the idea of representing the craft and care we put into the ring design by referencing traditional craft.
Erica's traditional ring has a very strong silhouette and visual identity. Its solidity is intrinsically appealing, connotating determination and a sense of hope and steadfastness. Reflecting the long legacy we are building upon, the logo hearkens back to the aesthetics of previous years, building upon their established brand. The number 22 is hidden within the structure the ring, defined by elegant slashes of negative space which flow from shank to bezel in a single, seamless stroke. Each face is immediately recognisable, and, as is evidenced by the many iterations of her design (of which only a fraction are shown, infinitely variable to suit the sensibilities of our committee.
Being MIT students, we naturally formalised our decision process by consulting some numbers. These charts represent the committee's opinions on more specific questions (e.g. resemblance to the number 22, number of colours).
The scale goes from 1 (less) to 5 (more).
I must admit, I found the meeting in which we wrangled with and ultimately pinned down the logo deeply enjoyable. We spent a lot of time working out the details (e.g. curved vs straight slash) — Erica and I were at our computers making live updates — as well as discussing the different use cases.
What made up my mind, and the reason I would have voted for Erica's logo if we had not, as artists, abstained, was the moment we overlaid the logos over a complex background (below). The empty space in my logo, which had worked on a solid background, was broken up by details like trees, the river, etc., and rendered ineffective. It also lost a lot of its charm when it was flattened into one colour (above), which we would have to do for embroidered merchandise.
All in all, I think we made a great choice. The logo we have now is something that we can be proud of as a committee, something we worked on together and have grown to identify with. It is strong enough to stand on its own as well as in combination with more complex graphics. Erica did a really fantastic job working on this and iterating at lightning speed to integrate the feedback that was coming at her from all directions. As for me, I'm glad that my work served its purpose. It was a counterpoint to the previous designs, sparked discussion, and led to the generation of new ideas, resulting in a meld of traditional and contemporary influences which make the logo stronger than either concept in isolation.
I love how our logo is traditional in appearance and in its nearly calligraphic details, tipping a hat to the Asian and Arabic background of much of our class, and how those very details make it modern and edgy. I will be proud to have this onscreen at premiere and delivery, and am excited to fulfil its promise of a great ring for a great class.