The Art Students League

A new heritage brand

The Art Students League

The Art Students League (the League) is the oldest art institution in the US. Opening their doors in 1875, this Atelier style institution has been a major force in shaping American art and been home to artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Louise Nevelson, Ai Weiwei, and James Little.

The challenge

In 2023 we embarked on the journey to look at the League’s branding with fresh eyes as we near the historic 150 year anniversary. It was important to us to preserve the legacy of The League and thoughtfully design a “new heritage” brand that felt like a natural progression from its past but could also stand the test of time for another 150 years.

On a visual sense, there were a lot of problems with the modern logo which represented the building of the league. For one, it was illegible and hard to reproduce as different sizes.  And most importantly, it was not recognizable to the public, historically the League had become synonymous with “The Muse” a female goddess-esque form who represents the art of drawing.

The solution

The latest brandmark was just one of the many iterations the league had undertaken during their long lifetime.  We aimed to take inspiration from the past to craft a brand that could last another 150 years.

Brand essence

Through a series of interviews with key stakeholders at the institution we uncovered an Intellectual shift from “affordable art education” back to a home for artists  – “an artistic community that inspires the next generation of American art”. With that a new messaging emerged, starting with purpose, mission, values, etc.

Visual Identity

Next we approached the logo system.  Building a heritage brand meant creating something timeless. We wanted to take all the best parts of the historical brands and modernize it for the digital applications of today. We started with the muse, merging the two prior muses, the new takes on the more anatomical approach of the original while keeping the woodblock cut style of the more recent. Keeping the transition subtle enough that it is still recognizable while ensuring her legibility in both digital and print applications at any scale.

We also updated the monogram and the lettermark.  Ensuring the typography in the lettermark mirrored that of the monogram as well as the etched relief signage of the facade of the building as well.

The Design system

As we built out the logo system, we aimed to position The League as an elevated “canvas brand”, limiting the color palette significantly and adding vibrancy to its recognizable blue, while optimizing for both print, digital, and ADA compliance. Emphasizing the white space within the brand, marketing materials, and site was an intentional choice to help focus the attention to the art. We meticulously selected typography that felt legible but also payed homage to brand mark.


Greater is an indispensable partner to our internal marketing team. We’re a unique institution, and it’s important that we work with partners who understand us. Greater has provided the strategic insights we need to succeed in an evolved digital landscape. Their streamlined approach to creative has helped us refine and implement new brand standards seamlessly, and their understanding of organizational structure and strategy has been invaluable in crafting our consumer-facing digital experiences. When we face tight deadlines or big sprints internally, the Greater team is right there with us. It’s a relief to know we can count on them to be as timely, focused, and efficient as we need them to be.
JJ Loonam
Director of Marketing
The Art Students League
Brand Purpose
Brand Strategy
Design Systems
Story & Voice
Visual Identity