Williamsburg Arts District Chooses Logo Winner

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Graphic designer Jeff Phillips believes the best logos reveal something new with every look.

His winning design for the Williamsburg Arts District logo contest achieves just that. At first glance, some viewers will see colorful free-form triangles that look hand-cut, loosely arranged. But on a second look, they’ll see a hidden “w” for Williamsburg.

Phillips’ design was selected last week out of 62 submissions from 27 artists. Members of the Williamsburg Arts District Association reviewed the submissions by panel, narrowed the entries down to three and selected Phillips’ design for its color and clever take on Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle. He received a cash prize of $500.

His design will be used to promote the district, gracing everything from banners to stickers to letterhead. WADA Co-Chair Adelle Carpenter said his submission stood out because he had considered how it would be used, depicting the logo on a T-shirt, a tote bag and a banner in his submission.

Phillips, a Williamsburg resident and part owner of The Design Shop in Charles City County, said it was validating to have his logo selected. He sent eight submissions, each showing different perspectives on the Arts District. Some were abstractions of the City of Williamsburg’s red, white and blue logo, while another showed an ink splotch with the word “arts.”

“[The winner] was one of the ones I felt stood out, but I didn’t know if it was too avant-garde to choose,” he said.

He wanted to convey not only the artistic process, with the handmade feel of the triangles, but create a logo that worked on different levels. If viewers don’t see the hidden “w” at first, at least they see a fun and colorful graphic. When a viewer does spot the “w,” he said, “It gives you some ownership. It makes you feel like, ‘I’m in on it.’”

Phillips is excited his logo will be the visual symbol of the Arts District, a concept he hopes succeeds in bringing a creative energy to downtown. He attended Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., and fondly remembers the artistic energy of the small college town. He hasn’t ruled out someday wanting to find some studio space in the city. “To see Williamsburg embrace that aspect holds great potential and could be exciting for the area,” he said.

WADA is already putting the logo to use, preparing to print it on a banner for the district’s April 5 launch of a First Fridays series. The logo, which they hope to eventually use on flags in the area, is the first step toward identifying the district in a visual way, and allows the group to begin marketing efforts. “We feel very unified now that we’re all under this visual blanket,” Carpenter said.

WADA formed near the end of 2012, with 11 participating businesses. The group plans to coordinate events, advocate for investment in the area and pool resources to market the district, located between Lafayette Street and Richmond Road, near the intersection with Monticello Avenue. Read more about the association and First Fridays here.

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  1. Congratulations Jeff, well done. I’m sure all of the submitters were very proud of their own work. Some of the non-winners are posting their submissions on our Facebook page in a good natured “best of the worst” sharing.

  2. I contacted Carolyn Murphy, deputy planning director for the city, and she said the five colors on the logo shouldn’t be a problem. The Architectural Review Board considers signage on a case-by-case basis, and is currently reviewing and drafting new guidelines. Creating looser guidelines specifically for the Arts District is under consideration.

  3. I’m one of the losing contestants and I have to admit this definitely deserved to win. I love it and I wish I’d created it. =)

    Congrats Jeff.

  4. I like it.

    The ARB regs for that district call for a maximum of three colors on signs and banners. I count five here.

  5. The Williamsburg Arts District Logo is different and refreshing. I like the colors and the simplicity of the design. I already can see it on flags and posters. Nice!