The Philadelphia Photo Arts Center (PPAC) and renowned conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas partnered to launch the Philly Block Project—a year-long, socially-engaged collaboration that provided a visual narrative of Philly’s South Kensington’s past and present through photographs, while creating shared spaces for fostering interconnectivity, celebrating the history, and preserving the heritage of the community.
Having worked as their strategic design partner for many years, PPAC brought GDLOFT in early on to handle design work for the year-long project. The first requirement was an identity versatile enough to meet such a multi-faceted project’s many needs. A primary concern of the client was the identity’s ability to reflect the celebratory nature of the project while respecting the artists’ work. The identity would be applied across a range of materials from official press releases to newspaper advertisements to exhibition materials to badges worn by the artists. The visuals not only needed to be recognizable to the wider city, but become familiar to the community members who’s participation was vital.
GDLOFT crafted the identity to reflect the unique character of Kensington (our own home). Using the familiar visual of street signs, the logo emulates the connectedness of a community and the celebratory nature of this project. Its familiar quality provided the photography team a valuable tool as they sought to involve the community in their artistic endeavor. The identity could easily extend from eye-catching postcards and advertisement to more subtle exhibition catalogs. The project culminated in a book that simultaneously documents the process and collects community-submitted materials. Through these two modes, the book becomes a keepsake of memory and history as well as an object for further community engagement.