Objective: Create a unified iconography system to communicate the key programs and concepts of the Creative Reaction Lab brand.
Creative Reaction Lab is a racial justice nonprofit dedicated to designing healthy and racially equitable cities. Working under the mentorship of AIGA Saint Louis President Antionette Carroll, I developed a set of icons to be used in Creative Reaction Lab's instructional materials and brand collateral. These icons are now showcased on Creative Reaction Lab's workshop materials, social media profiles, and have heavily inspired the subsequent branding of the organization.
I went through countless iterations for each icon, and this iterative process began in the drawing phase, in which I drafted 3-5 unique visual concepts for each icon. Antionette new early in the process that she wanted the icons to be designed as circles, therefore most of my sketches reflect that constraint.
I developed an organized system through the trial and error process of creating. In the end, I had developed an icon set that felt approachable and friendly yet organized. The verticality of the icons, the uniform reliance on stroke rather than fill, the drop shadow, and the circle frame define the overall visual system.
After presenting the first draft of icons, I realized that outlined approach to the icons created a uniformity that I liked. That said, the icons were still too variable in other ways, such as their height to width ratio and overall shape. It was at this point that Antionette decided to create a system of circular logos, so I adapted what I had created to fit within the same sized circle and added a drop shadow to differentiate the icons from their frames.
By carrying the drop shadow to the edge of the frame, I connected the images to the circles and gave purpose to them. I further incorporated the circles by making the icons taller in general and having many of them carry to the circle along the bottom edge. As this system solidified, I created additional icons more easily and efficiently.
My process in creating the drop shadow effect required that I outline the icons' stroke. I preserved vector versions of the icons by copying them into another file, thereby capturing multiple variations of icons at every stage of development and creating a graveyard of icons past.
I began my digital exploration with only five icons, two of which were nixed in favor of slightly different concepts. The image below showcases the evolution and refinement of the remaining three icons as the overall visual system developed.
When the icons were near final, I developed several methods of incorporating Creative Reaction Lab's existing color palette into the icon set. Because these methods offered less flexibility, Creative Reaction Lab decided to go in the direction of a simple color backdrop.