During the Middlebrook Prize day at Art Gallery of Guelph on October 24th, a whole new visual identity for the prize was unveiled by the highly talented creative director, Chris Duchaine. Below are some remarks from Chris regarding the overall design concept, which includes a three dimensional objet d’art as a prize, a cube unpacked into two dimensions for the prize certificates and logo and a special globally cutting edge typeface for the Prize:
When I was first approached to work on the Middlebrook Prize identity, I was thrilled to say the least. As a commercial artist, most of my days are spent trying to sell products and services. The notion of developing work that would serve the creative community was rare to me but most welcome. I knew this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up—this was my chance to create something highly conceptual and truly meaningful.
A couple of days into my research and explorations, it dawned on me that the formal name of the prize (Middlebrook Prize for Young Canadian Curators) could be simplified to a six-letter acronym, which conveniently matched up to the 6 surfaces on a cube. To create the logo, I decided to house the letters within the abstract shape of a cube net, which is essentially the deconstruction of a cube into a two dimensional figure that is divided into six cells. The multiple possible cube net configurations freed me to create a total of 72 versions of the logo, each with a different arrangement of letters yet still forming a perfect cube [see below]. This was a perfect parallel to the reality that, although every art exhibit has the potential to be curated in endless ways, the end result is always the same: a compelling visual experience that can be shared with the public. The cube also turned out to be the ideal shape for the actual Middlebrook Prize.
From the contemporary Circular Font (published by Lineto) and the bold use of yellow, to the construction of the prize itself (solid Canadian maple with three-colour lacquer), the Middlebrook Prize identity was designed to be, in and of itself, a work of art. Who knows, it may even find its way into an art exhibition someday, at which point it might be time to remove the word “commercial” from my title.
To drive home the point that Chris is an innovator, a few months after Chris proposed his design using Circular, the most perfectly geometric font available, Google (and Alphabet), by using a pure geometric font for their new logo design, gave Chris the best flattery through imitation. Furthermore, the role of the curator in programming visual arts for the White Cube, is well known pedagogy. Even more so, many contemporary curators break down the cube, taking the analogy further.
Even more seriously, the new visual identity provides an iconic and globally memorable for the growing cadre of Prize winners.