Alt Group

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

Art is a hard thing to understand, building a text algorithm to communicate what "art" is allowed Auckland Art Gallery's identity to "see art in everything".

What's the interesting thing about branding an Arts Institution?

Art Galleries and museums are unique because they’re not selling anything. Rather, they’re presenting an opportunity for you to engage. A brand for an Art Gallery needs to introduce the public to art and then it needs to get out of the way. The content is the art itself. That’s the visual experience. Our role was to create a voice for the brand.

Art is a big subject. Art means different things to different people. How does an identity convey that?

The idea at the core was to help people see art in everything, and to make art a habit. We believed that using images of art would only communicate to an established audience. Starting a conversation about art and its possibilities would not dumb art down, but open it up. Not art for art’s sake, but for the sake of art. This was a bold move for an institute with a rich visual heritage, allowing art to introduce itself, start a conversation and then get out of the way.

The algorithm allows the gallery to communicate – but the best part is that the algorithm can adapt to be descriptive, witty or philosophical. A Brush Stroke, A Prickly Subject, A Universal Truth. Art is one of those things that can be beautiful and obtuse, using language allowed us to be both playful and referential.

How does a algorithm become a logo?

The answer was found with a rule system that must always begin with an A, followed by two words that have an R, and T stacked consecutively. This established the vertical reading of the word Art, but also determined the sentence structure, and the proposition of what art is.

It was then incorporated into two logo marks – the name of the gallery and a secondary mark incorporating the words Art and Toi – the Māori translation of the word “art”. We then developed this into a repeating pattern referencing traditional Māori tukutuku panels.

What do you think makes it a success?

We can measure it through the normal ways, more visitors, exhibitions etc but I think I'm just proud that the Art Gallery is open again and Aucklanders are giving up some of their leisure time to look at art.

—Dean Poole, Alt Group