Thursday, October 27, 2022

Working as a freelance artist, I’ve spent a lot of time picking up side gigs to help pay the rent, and it was my good luck several years ago to pick up some work helping with admin and bookkeeping for the then-much-smaller Partners for Impact. Beth and Stan knew from the start that my primary work was as an artist, and quickly began to realize that they had some application for my design skills in their work, first updating the website, and then beginning to venture into infographics, print design, and illustrations to accompany online content. Three years later, I’m the Design Consultant on our expanding team, and constantly exploring what that means and where we can use art and design to improve our communication, outreach, education, and more.


Consulting for nonprofit organizations and human services groups was never the role I envisioned myself in during college (where I got degrees in comics art and scientific illustration), but I’ve found the role incredibly fulfilling. I have always felt passionate about improving conditions for all people, and as a bi woman LGBTQ+ causes are especially dear to me, but I’ve found that working as an artist for hire frequently means making work that props up capitalist marketing efforts or else creating art solely for private use that has little positive impact on the larger world. Working with Partners for Impact has been so fulfilling by comparison, because I can see my artwork being used directly to reach people, whether it’s to inform funders, educate the wider public, or reach the attention of underserved communities we need to engage.


Recently Beth and Stan approached me with a new project: a redesign of our firm’s logo, to better capture the values-first approach to work that our team has curated over the past several years, and, flatteringly, to put my art forward as one of the first things prospective clients and partners see. The logo development ended up being a bit of a lengthy process, because we ended up with a conundrum I’ve confronted from time to time: human services concepts are hard to draw! Many of the concepts we work with are extremely abstract interpersonal and systemic ideas, which require careful consideration to bring into a visual medium. I have to find some kind of visual metaphor or easily-recognizable symbol to represent really broad ideas like systems change, community, equity, support services, and more. In developing the logo, I spent time talking with Beth and Stan about images like butterflies, metamorphosis, plants and root systems, spinning and weaving, dreaming, growth, koi fish, the water cycle, and more. An image of a flower with a lightbulb at its center captured some of the imaginative spark but seemed too technological to really represent our team’s approach to projects. An attempt to show tree roots intertwining ended up looking too much like a bacterium! Eventually I hit upon the idea of reusing a tree symbol from an earlier piece of art, and placing two cradling hands beneath it, using different colors to show the partnership between different people or groups. A suggestion from our fabulous marketing consultant, Jess Koscher, helped me resolve what to do with the shape of the roots by drawing on the ‘tree of life’ symbol seen frequently in Celtic art, shaping the wrists of the hands to blend into the root system and show that our partners frequently originate from the same communities and systems that we hope to support in our work.


I’m very excited to introduce this new logo for Partners for Impact. I think of all the logo work I’ve done over the years, this is one of the most thoughtful, difficult, and ultimately rewarding ones I’ve designed. I think it really represents Partners for Impact and our values, and I hope that when you see it, you will think of the mutual growth, support, and equity that we embody.