Infinitely Generative, Computer-Drawn, Human-Driven
Talia Cotton is a designer and coder at Pentagram working on the design and development of data-driven and algorithmic web and branding projects. In 2018, she was named a GDUSA Student to Watch. Cotton’s latest project is for a new arts organization Guilty by Association (GBA) whose mission is to give a voice to underrepresented artists, empowering them and, in turn, creating a shift in the art world at large to be more fair and equal. For a brand that is so closely driven by the pure artistic ability of underrepresented, undiscovered artists, having a logo that can yield with honesty to the artists themselves was crucial — but without losing the ability to strongly represent the brand itself.
However, contends Cotton, not a single designer has ever — or will ever — create a truly unbiased design; no matter what, a designer will always be prejudiced by a laundry list of factors: their respective backgrounds, cultures, educations (or lack thereof), the tools they use, and so much more. Thus, Cotton’s solution is a brand identity for GBA that revolves around an infinitely generative, computer-drawn, human-driven logo as a metaphor to represent underrepresented artists without bias.
By relying on the computer to do the drawing, she says, the brand identity is literally taken out of the biased designer’s hands and can honestly and infinitely represent another person — even if that person is unknown. Just as the organization yields to the artists, the brand identity yields to the computer.
Cotton also notes that this project is attempting to push beyond the current aesthetic limitations of generative design. Since all-things-generative must ultimately be drawn by a computer, the result is frequently driven by harsh geometric shapes. As such, using code to make a logo that is equally strong and human has rarely, if ever, been done. Designing the GBA logo required not just technological knowledge, but strong mathematical thinking to make sure it always draws a readable, but different, logo whereby all the letters essentially fit together, as a human hand tends to.