Building a brand for the world’s largest art prize
ArtPrize is the largest cash art prize in the world and unique among large scale art competitions - the winners are decided by public vote. When the founders approached Peopledesign in 2009 with the outline of the idea and six months to execute, the respective teams rose to the occasion and created the brand from scratch.
The ArtPrize logo reflects a few different aspects of the event. First, ArtPrize is very much about being based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We borrowed an outline of La Grande Vitesse by Alexander Calder, a symbol of the city (50 years ago, the purchase of this piece was made possible through the first NEA endowment). We used an A, for Art of course, but modified it a little and placed it beneath the sculpture to suggest a platform or easel. ArtPrize is about displaying art. We turned the Calder on its side, which in some ways is what ArtPrize aims to do to Grand Rapids – to help its residents and its visitors see the city, to talk about art, differently. It also had made the sculpture look as if it were flying, a happy metaphor for the kind of momentum and energy the event brings to town. Finally, even if no one recognizes the sculpture, they may see an ink spot, the first sweep of paint on a canvas, or some other purposeful, artful shape.
The event hosted ten times the number of people originally estimated, with a corresponding number of participating artists. We helped build the brand, the customer experience, the commemorative poster, armloads of merchandise, wayfinding signage, event materials, and more.