Harper Chen‘s creative path at ArtCenter College of Design is an inspiring narrative of how a profound passion for new media art can lead to groundbreaking work in video and film media. Inspired by today’s digital creativity, Harper’s rebranding of the New Media Caucus is an interactive journey into the essence of new media. By reimagining the NMC’s identity, Harper aimed to create an inclusive narrative resonating with the public’s pulse. The resulting work reflects Harper’s belief that new media art, with its roots deeply embedded in technology, has the power to transform experiences, inviting audiences to participate in a new dimension of visual storytelling.
By: Harper Chen
During my studies at ArtCenter, I fostered a deep-seated passion for new media art. This fervor guided my decision when I had the chance to rebrand any organization, entity, or corporation. I immediately thought of the New Media Caucus. This international non-profit association was formed to promote the development and understanding of new media art and advance the conceptual and artistic use of digital media. Their commitment was to foster dialogue among professionals across diverse disciplines, sparking further innovation in the vibrant field of new media art.
I held the belief that design serves to transform the abstract spirit and core concepts—in other words, the mission statement—underlying a brand, organization, or corporation into visual languages that can communicate with their audiences.
However, developing concepts was the most challenging part when dealing with such a broad subject as new media art. Rebranding in this constantly changing landscape of various art forms and technologies made finding a unique voice and direction difficult. How did the NMC set itself apart? Who was the intended audience, and how would it contribute to the world of new media art? These questions led me on a journey of research and conversations with my professor, colleagues, and friends outside the design realm. Through these discussions, I discovered a general lack of understanding about new media art. Many people found it vague and even intimidating when defining what new media art entailed. However, this realization brought forth an opportunity—it helped me uncover the path for the rebranding.
Based on this insight, the New Media Caucus rebranding goal was to make NMC more inclusive, not just a community that promotes communication among industry professionals. It aimed to encourage and help everyone discover and understand new media art in the hopes of bringing new media art into the public eye and sparking more discussion and advancement. It was dedicated to being new media art’s friendly, leading voice. Being welcoming and inclusive did not imply sacrificing new media art’s exciting, innovative, and inspiring features. As a result, the new mission statement was to serve as a link between groups, artists, and audiences and between technology and art.
This new mission statement became the underlying philosophy guiding the brand identity system, from the brand strategy to its visual language.
The tagline “New media, new era” showed the simple yet optimistic voice of NMC, with straightforward expression, avoiding obscurity, and being more friendly and inclusive for people who did not have much professional knowledge.
The logo was inspired by the programming language’s double slash “//,” which is used to write a comment or explanation the computer ignores. Its purpose was to leave comments and instructions for future programmers or anyone else who needed to understand the code, enabling better communication. This aligned with NMC’s aim to foster dialogue within the community and introduce new media art to the general public. The dot represented the convergence of professionals, artists, and the public. The form of the logo suggested a doorway and an entry point. Hence, the logo animation unfolded as an invitation to open doors to a new world, to explore unknown possibilities, to always stay curious, and to embrace the future. It embodied the same spirit as the tagline, inviting the audience into a new era.
Since new media art is directly related to the advancement of technology, the color palette also drew attention to the traits of technology and the vivid hues frequently utilized in new media art. The primary color, a progressive red, emphasized the innovative quality of new media art, while technical gray and digital cyan served as secondary colors. The simplified color palette was also ideal for ease of comprehension, as was the simplification of the brand voice.
Different poster series, including educational, exhibition, image, events, and identity series, served a variety of purposes. They displayed the abstract, complicated, and innovative quality of new media art while also being educational and friendly to help audiences learn more about NMC and new media art. The motion montage demonstrated how the entire brand system was applied to various media, especially digital media, by blending works of new media art with the New Media Caucus brand identity features. Through the mysterious footage and a “step towards a new world” moment, the first section introduced the audience to the world of new media art.
Navigating through this project was a pivotal chapter in my educational journey at ArtCenter. It was the first time I truly understood the synergy between brand strategy and design in storytelling. It taught me that every design decision must be supported by a solid concept. This experience didn’t just deepen my understanding of branding; it allowed me to immerse myself in new media art and inspired me to integrate motion, creative coding, and technology into my design practice.
As I reflected on this journey, one piece of advice from my professor, Elaine Alderette, stood out. She emphasized that the identity system must resonate with the brand’s voice, including the tagline, visual elements, narrative, and posters. This guidance became the cornerstone of my approach, ensuring that every design choice was a mirror of the NMC’s ethos. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my professor, Elaine Alderette, whose wisdom and mentorship were the guiding lights that helped shape my path. Her insights have been invaluable, and I deeply appreciate that.
Fueled by a never-ending thirst for what lies beyond the known, Harper Chen embarked on a journey into design. For her, it is a place where each project is a gateway to a hidden universe. She envisions it as an infinite series of dives into a sea of untapped potential. This led her to integrate motion design, coding, and interactive technology into her practice while also holding a passion for typography and print. It offers a fresh lens through which to perceive art and design.