Representing a century of the Yale Bowl

Vintage Yale Bowl Photo

This week, the Athletics Department will unveil the logo for its centennial celebration of the Yale Bowl. When Athletics brought this project to our office, they requested that the logo capture the essence of the stadium in a nostalgic, but not old-fashioned, way.

Yale Bowl research

John and I conducted considerable image and architectural research. We examined the Bowl’s original blueprints in the Facilities office. We combed through Yale’s archives of sports ephemera for color and style inspiration.

Yale Bowl Initial Sketch

The basic structure and iconography of the emblem fell into place quickly. We knew that we wanted to feature the portals—the way the view expands as you pass through the dark tunnels, revealing the gridiron and the seating in full light—an experience almost unique to the Yale Bowl and so memorable to fans.

YB100 Sketch 01

YB100 Sketch 02

YB100 Sketch 03

The graphic style was trickier to figure out. Initially, we tried to create a very strong vintage feel, heavily influenced by early 20th-century commercial illustration, featuring rich, complex colors and close values. But this style would have been challenging to apply to the range of sizes in which and materials on which the logo will appear.

Final YB100 Logo

Making many, many variations of the logo, we pared down the drawing style and color palette to what you see here—simpler to use and more contemporary in appearance.

Character-Building Content

LWL Invitation Image

Rebecca and I couldn't help but laugh at the wonderful image she is using in a new invitation design for the Lewis Walpole Library, which made me realize that in LWL’s communications, she uses recurring image treatment to build an individual look for the library.

LWL Illustrations samples

Located in Farmington, Connecticut, the LWL is the farthest outpost of the Yale University Library system. The library is a research center for 18th-century studies, focusing on British prints, drawings, manuscripts, rare books, paintings, and decorative arts.

2 LWL Catalogues

The illustrations—all selected from the LWL’s collections—are often playful, humorous, and always memorable. They are presented in silhouette against a solid-color background. Though this image treatment is simple, it creates a noticeable pattern across LWL communications.

LWL portfolio

The resulting portfolio is visually cohesive, unique, and appropriate to this library.

LWL Yale branding

Notice that all of the material incorporates the Yale logo and frequently uses the Yale typeface as well. In so doing, the LWL has developed an individual character within the University’s branding guidelines.

Announcing the 2014 Lohmann Prizes

Lohmann Prizes, early announcement

For more information, please visit

Family Resemblance


Our office occasionally takes on projects to brand major Yale events—like the 50th anniversary of Beinecke Library and President Salovey’s inauguration last fall. Yale’s identity guidelines encourage the development of distinctive logos for such singular and finite events. On the other hand, Yale’s many organizations are asked not to create custom logos in the course of their regular activities. The “no custom logos” constraint can be disconcerting to some, but I would argue that this concern is based on a common misunderstanding about how visual identity is created. A logo (alone) does not a visual identity make.

If we want our publications and communications to be appealing and recognizable to our audiences, there’s much that we can and should bring to bear in the design process beyond consistent use of the Yale logo—all within the University’s identity guidelines.

This week I designed a nametag format and welcome poster for the Long-Service Recognition Celebration, which honors staff members who have served the University for 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 years.

It got me thinking about how I could build a distinctive look—a distinct identity—from a piece of communications as small as a nametag.

Here is the old nametag design:


This is the new design:


The nametag design is based on three guiding formal strategies. 1. The use of large service-year numbers as secondary elements. 2. Left-aligned text blocks, positioned to the right of center. 3. Use of the Yale typeface and the colors Yale Blue and Pantone 645.

When the celebration organizers subsequently requested a design for a poster, I was able to build on the principles that guided the design of the little nametag.


An “identity” begins to emerge. For the sake of this post, I have sketched how this new “identity” could be applied to a wide range of items:

Family Resemblance examples

These designs adhere to the Yale identity guidelines, and they all incorporate the Yale logo. However, the specific choice and arrangement of visual elements creates a cohesive “look and feel,” a visual identity for this project.

What’s more, because these designs follow the Yale identity guidelines, they have a “family resemblance” to all other Yale pieces that do so. You know these pieces are from Yale, but you also sense that there’s something special about their message.

Good as new—sletter

New Beinecke Newsletter example

Hi everyone! Forgive our long absence—we’ve been very busy. I plan to share some of the office’s projects in the next few posts.

Old Beinecke Newsletter

Recently, the Beinecke Library expressed a need for greater formatting flexibility in its e-newsletters in order to publish an increasingly wide range of content.

new Beinecke format example

In the course of addressing this request, Rebecca and I also brought the style of the newsletter in line with the typographic identity that had been established for the Beinecke’s 50th anniversary celebration, elements of which have been retained as the basis of its institutional identity.

New format title close up

The new Beinecke e-newsletter is branded by the typography in the title bar and by a unique color palette—featuring Beinecke’s “proprietary” Univers Ultra Condensed headings and the accent color Pantone Red 032. These are the primary design components that would be customized in e-newsletters adapted for use by other Yale organizations.

beinecke website

beinecke 50th look

The strongly gridded style of the Beinecke’s Web site inspired us to design the e-newsletter template around a grid of square units, reserving substantial quantities of white space. Some of Yale’s most appealing e-newsletters—the Yale University Art Gallery for instance—employ a similarly gridded style.

Hierarchy content variety mockup

The “kit of parts” we developed permits greater control over content hierarchy and gives users more flexibility in matching various content types—short and longer-form stories, images, etc.—to suitable visual formats. We sought to make these functional and aesthetic changes in such a way that other branches of the Yale University Library system and other organizations around campus would be able to implement these upgrades.

You can subscribe to the Beinecke’s redesigned e-newsletter here.

The Adrian Van Sinderen Book Collecting Prizes for 2014

Esperanto Images

Winners of the 2014 Adrian Van Sinderen Book Collecting Prizes have been announced.

This year’s senior prize was awarded to Austin Jung of Saybrook College for his collection on the Esperanto language. Solene Goycochea of Morse College was awarded a senior second prize for her Basque history collection. Sarah Maslin of Trumbull College received a senior honorable mention for her collection titled “Revolutionary and Counterrevolutionary Violence in Latin America.”

For his collection on modernism in literature, Andrew Koenig of Jonathan Edwards College won the sophomore prize. Sophomore honorable mentions were awarded to Katharine Spooner (Timothy Dwight College) for her collection on the metropolitan history of London with a focus on the London Underground and to Cristóbal Trujillo (Saybrook College) for his foreign literature and philosophy collection.

For more than half a century, student bibliophiles have been receiving prizes for the quality of their book collections, thanks to the generosity of Yale alumnus Adrian Van Sinderen (Class of 1910). In 1957 Mr. Van Sinderen established two prizes, for Yale seniors and sophomores, in order to encourage undergraduates to collect books, build up libraries of their own, and read for pleasure and learning. Current first prize amounts are $1,000 for the senior winner and $750 for the sophomore winner. In 2002 an annual poster competition was added, awarding a $500 prize to the winning designer of the poster used to announce the book collecting competition.

Judges for this year’s competition were William Reese ’77 (Chair), Joseph Agostini ’93, Alec Baum ’14, Elisabeth Fairman, Rebecca Martz, Stephen Parks ’61, E.C. Schroeder, and Sylvia Van Sinderen.

New events for the New Year

poster closeup

Rebecca Martz designed the Winter–Spring 2014 events broadside for Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library—now in the mail. This is the third calendar she has produced for the library—the first two announced programming that celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. 

both sides

After a year that saw many publications using this celebratory branding, the Beinecke now has a widely recognized “look.”

The question arises: how should it continue to capitalize on its improved level of recognizability now that the year of celebration has passed?

In the Winter–Spring calendar, Rebecca has created a transitional object that retains some of the major branding elements that were developed for the celebration, but drops the 50th anniversary logo, replacing it with the standard Yale logo.

type closeup

Titles and headings continue to be set in Univers typefaces, using the red and silver inks of the 50th brand. The page itself retains the same format and grid structure as its predecessors.

branding closeup

This time around, these unique Beinecke branding elements are brought into the Yale visual family simply by replacing the 50th logo with the Yale logo, demonstrating the flexibility and effectiveness of the University’s branding guidelines

2 posters

And the poster image on the reverse side of the calendar—which during the anniversary year had featured photographs of the building—now features material from an upcoming exhibition, Blue: Color and Concept

Chika says farewell

Today is Rollins Fellow and Graphic Designer, Chika Otas, last day working at the Office of the Yale University Printer! John wrote and delivered a lovely farewell to Chika during our open house:

You have transformed our office with your hard work, talent, and entrepreneurial energy. Your ability to win the confidence of our clients and colleagues by interpreting their needs in keeping with Yale’s institutional goals has added much to our office’s reputation. It’s not exaggerating to say that you have raised the University’s perception of design’s power to serve its communication goals.

Among your many projects, your work for New Employee Orientation, Emergency Management, President Levin’s send-off book and event, and Peter Salovey’s inauguration, your organization of classes for Yale designers, your term as a Prelim TA, and your establishment of the OUP blog stand out—not just to us, but broadly to Yale’s audiences and offices.

It’s diffcult to think of our workplace without your cheer, energy, style, memorable questions, adventurousness, and friendship. We know that you will make the most of every opportunity and that your new colleagues will love you as much as we do. 

We offer our most sincere good wishes and love as you leave Yale. We know you will fare well.

In celebration of the wonderful work she did for our office, here is a look at a small portion of the beautiful work she designed for Peter Salovey's inauguration. 


The schedule of events.


Festive colonnade banners on Commons.

Specially designed scarf to commemorate the weekend.

Specially designed scarf to commemorate the weekend.

Tickets for concert, lectures and other events throughout the inauguration.

Tickets for concert, lectures, and other events throughout the inauguration.

Celebratory neck tie designed specifically for the weekend.

Celebratory tie designed specifically for the weekend.

Invitations for Peter Salovey's Inauguration

Invitations for Peter Salovey's inauguration established the graphic theme of "Many Yales."

Close up of two designs for the inauguration weekend tote bags.

Close up of two designs for the inauguration weekend tote bags, one featuring the 23rd president motif, the other featuring "Many Yales."



Notice something new at Bass Library last week?

bastents in situ

We worked with Bass to design table tents intended to enliven study spaces and show support for students during reading week and finals.


We felt that our design should in some way speak specifically to studying in Yale libraries.


So, we paired text with archival images of Yale students hard at work in the libraries back in the day.


The table tents provide encouragement,


illustrate common experiences,


provide moments of comic relief,


and document nostalgic scenes of studying 60 years ago.


The incongruity between the 1950s-60s photos and the invitation to tweet drives this concept, confirming the trope that  “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Contrasting styles in exhibition design



Today I stopped by the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery to check out two very different exhibition designs. 


At the YCBA, the pieces in Sculpture by Nicola Hicks are installed among paintings selected by the artist from the museum’s permanent collection. 


The labels and exhibition graphics reflect this quiet integration. 


Labels that describe Hicks, her work, and its connection to other British art adhere to the standard formatting used throughout the rest of the YCBA. 


This exhibition design strategy waits in the background. The viewer decides whether to consider Hick's sculpture in the context of the adjacent artwork and label information.


Across the street, the exhibition design for A Great Crowd Had Gathered: JFK in the 1960s inserts itself boldly into the viewing experience. 


The blue-painted walls demarcate the exhibition’s physical space, separating it from the rest of the gallery. 


The large timeline organizes the photographs around related events in presidential history and popular culture.The timeline, labels, and groupings together exert nearly the same visual weight as the images themselves, unequivocally drawing viewers to consider the photographs within their chronological and cultural context.