An Interview with Nicole LaRue, Designer of the Women’s March Logo
On January 21st, 2017, history was made—over 5 million worldwide and over 1 million in Washington D.C. participated in the Women’s March, a “a women-led movement bringing together people of all genders, ages, races, cultures, political affiliations and backgrounds in our nation’s capital. . .to affirm our shared humanity and pronounce our bold message of resistance and self-determination.”
From coast to coast and all over the world, marchers joined in solidarity for social justice and human rights, all bound by a shared vision. Given the remarkable turnout, the campaign is extremely noteworthy—it all began from a single Facebook post, and turned into a event that brought the masses together. And that brings us to the logo.
The woman behind the iconic imagery and color scheme is Nicole LaRue, a Portland-based illustrator and graphic designer—both of which she’s been doing professionally for 13 years. She also happens to be the illustrator of our Write Here, Write Now journal, and we were absolutely delighted to hear that this logo was her work, and to have the opportunity to interview her. Read on to learn how she came to design the logo in—you’ll never believe this—one day.
Q: What is a typical “day in the life” for you?
A: My day has a somewhat tortured and routine start, as I never really want to get out of bed. But I do tend to climb out of this tortured state by at least 7:30am. This is typically followed by a long run or a looped run to the gym. After all of this, I sit down and get to work! For the most part, I’m fairly focused. I plan my days out in advance as much as possible, and try to work as efficiently as is possible (along with a bit of playing with my rad little Abyssinian cat). I tend to spend most of my days drawing, brainstorming, and designing. I do my best to avoid phone calls and meetings and the business side of life as much as humanly possible (though, these things do have a way of sneaking themselves in)!
Q: How did you first get involved with the Women’s March? How did you end up being chosen to design the logo?
A: Just over a month before the Women’s March on Washington, my longtime friend and colleague (Amy Stellhorn, CEO and founder of Big Monocle) messaged me and asked if I had time to help illustrate one of their logo concepts for their pitch to the Women’s March organizers. The concept sketch was done by Wolfgang Strack and needed a strong designer/illustrator to bring it to life. She told me it would need to be done that day and that it was all volunteer. I, obviously, said yes to her speedy request (not imagining, in my wildest dreams, that what I created that day would make much of a difference really) and the rest is kind of, well, history!
Q: How did the logo change from the initial idea to final iteration?
A: I actually provided the team with (and worked on) one, single design that day. Truly. I only had a few hours to bring the sketch to life, so it forced me to just get right to it. Not much sketching or iterations occurred. One design, one color palette, and it was added to the deck. This is not how I typically work, though—I tend to spend a lot of time brainstorming, collecting ideas, and sketching before I sit down to design. I feel like the lack of actual time on this project was half of what made it extra amazing.
Q: The logo was released very quickly. What was the timeline for the process?
A: I was brought in on the pitch in early-mid December. Two days later I was told that my design would be used as the official logo for the march. After that, the entire team and I scrambled to create hundreds of social media icons, banners, and merchandise. The timeline was a very short and compact whirlwind!
Q: What were the elements that were important to you to convey? How did you arrive at the angular lettering?
A: The team I worked with were interested in me conveying ALL women—the sense of feeling united, and speaking out with one voice. This was definitely important. The lettering bit came in as a balance to the mark itself…a bit heavy, but with a lot of strength. I feel like it was able to add a bit of character to the words themselves.
Q: We’re curious about the unexpected color palette. What’s the significance behind the colors chosen?
A: When I submitted my design, I had chosen a color palette that I felt was strong but also had a sense of femininity. Originally, the coral was a bit more of a brighter pink. I hadn’t planned for it, but the organizers were thrilled that the color palette seemed to mimic the colors of the American flag, just with a bit more shine!
Q: The logo is reminiscent of the Girl Scout logo. How was that logo an influence in your design process?
A: I’ve heard this a couple of times, elsewhere as well, but the Girl Scout logo wasn’t actually an influence at all–definitely not consciously.
Q: What advice would you give to other designers and illustrators who want to use their skills to help activate change, but maybe don’t know how to start?
A: I think that we, as creatives, ought to leave room to take on projects (or create the projects ourselves) that we are fiercely passionate about–ones that pull at our hearts and propel us to take action. Sometimes we just need to forget about the bills that need to be paid and spiritedly explore ways to use our hearts more.
Q: How does it feel seeing your logo across the nation—arguably the world?
A: Surreal for sure. Someone messaged me just before I left for D.C. to attend the march and said I was going down in history… it might be a little true. We all absolutely made history that day.
Q: What’s next for you—both in design, and in activism?
A: For me, my involvement with the Women’s March has been the very best catalyst in terms of my thinking on the direction of my career as a designer. It’s kind of a trajectory changer. I had been wanting to do something that was much more meaningful and relevant with my work before all of this, and this seems to have opened that door–and it’s a much bigger door than I could have ever imagined.
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Huge thanks to Nicole LaRue for taking the time to answer all our burning questions. Be sure to keep up with her on her website!
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