Melbourne-based design studio, SouthSouthWest, was behind the recent rebrand of Australian Infront.
Words: Andy Sargent
Late last year we were approached to create a new brand for prominent Australian design site australianinfront.com.au.
Australian Infront is a collaborative creative site that was established in 1999. The purpose of the site was to provide a space for creatives to engage on a variety of topics through the forum and to showcase the work of Australian graphic designers.
Since its conception, the site has evolved to feature design related events, news and the work of Australian creatives on a daily basis. The forum is utilised by a large community of over 20,000 members. With a broadening base of contributors and followers, the site continues to support the work of all Australian creatives (not limited to graphic design) with a range of tools and events.
Being long term fans, followers and contributors to the site we were all very excited by the opportunity, mindful of the loyal following and critical eyes of its followers. With the excitement came a pressure and responsibility to ensure what we delivered was a true reflection of the entire Australian creative community, and not favouring one specific discipline.
From the outset we focused on pinpointing the true essence of Australian creativity, from Indigenous artists such as Clifford Possum, to Landscapes of Fred Williams, through to Reg Mombassa, Howard Arkley and Anthony Lister. The work of many of our peers were also influential in typifying this creative spirit this group includes David Lancashire, Andrew Ashton, and Alter to name a few. In addition to artists and designers, several brands and other entities were strong references for their energy and passion, including Ksubi and Monster Children. What typifies much of this creative output is evidence of the hand, character, vibrancy and a sense of spontaneity.
With the breadth of this reference what became obvious very early in the process of the need for the identity to feel indigenous – in a contemporary sense, that is, the identity should feel as though it originates from the people, or is native to its surrounds. In addition to the essence of the creative community and audience, we also focused on the function of the site. The simplest expression of this function is inspiration. The site provides inspiration through showcasing the work of the full range of creative folk, from students to masters, providing forums for discussion and discourse, employment opportunities and events to engage with like minded others.
Typographically, we felt no single typeface, regardless of whether it was existing or custom designed could truly capture the gamut of the creative community, nor was it likely that a typographic marque would be robust enough to endure over time without feeling time-coded.
The identity we arrived at is a true reflection of the process, in the end it was based on a sketch by Jesse Mallon and remained relatively unrefined in the process of creating a digital version. The symbol that accompanies the type represents the spark of inspiration, again influenced by the long history of mark making in Australian creativity or ‘making a mark’ on the creative landscape.
In a strangely serendipitous way, the symbol bears a completely unintended resemblance to the Union Jack, tying back to Australian heritage, yet ironic given we’d imagine the majority of the sites audience are probably more in favour of an Australian Republic. Through the process we also formed a very typical Australian response to the verbal and visual expression of the identity. We all agreed that Australian Infront, while meaningful, has always been somewhat of a mouthful. Whether it’s the personality of the ‘lazy Australian’ or the warmth of character that yearns to make make names shorter and more familiar, we managed a transition from the formal convention of ‘Australian Infront’, to the more colloquial ‘Aus Infront’.
While the roll-out has been limited to this point, the identity has found a nice home on the updated site by the super talented duo of Damien Aistrope and Zann St Pierre. Given all of this, and our intention to create an identity for the people, we’re very keen to open the discussion on the identity its origins, our process and outcome and would invite any commentary whether critical, positive or otherwise. Over to you.
This article originally appeared on SouthSouthWest’s blog on 1 June 2012.
All images sourced by SouthSouthWest.