June Logo Remix: Courtney Ahn

Every month, we invite new artists to take the ThinkNW logo and make it their own. For our June Logo Remix, we asked Portland-based designer, Courtney Ahn, to have a go at it with her iconic style.

ThinkNW: How did you initially want to approach your interpretation of the ThinkNW logo? What were your thoughts and inspiration?

When I was first asked to take on this project, it was clear from the get-go that this would be a personal interpretation of my style, the type of free-reign that every artist revels in! Like most of my work, highlighting the diversity and intersectionality of marginalized communities is always at the forefront, balancing that with the playfulness and vibrancy I equally enjoy: warm colors, bold color contrast, fun details, etc.

How did the direction in designing the ThinkNW logo evolve/change over time?

It actually was quite a smooth process – I had the initial idea to play with some different figures and textures with the first sketch delivery and it quickly came to life in the next digital round. I do think initially I was a bit hesitant to put something so detailed into an existing brand design, but once I got past that hesitation chatting more with the ThinkNW team, it confirmed the decision to do something a little bit more exciting!

What are some of the specific elements in the ThinkNW logo design that you feel are unique/cool/fun (i.e., palette, illustration, overall style)?

I’d say probably my favorite thing about this design is the color palette, I rarely am able to put all the colors that bring me joy into a single piece. It’s also always an honor to integrate illustrative work into design pieces, but I am a bit biased with the addition of the dog!

When did you know that art was something that you wanted to pursue?

Art has always been a lifelong passion of mine – I was practically glued to a coloring book and 64 crayon pack all through my childhood. However, it didn’t really become a tangible career path for me until after I took a yearbook class in high school and instantly fell in love with layout design and particularly photo manipulation. I enrolled in art college on a whim shortly after, and although I’ve moved past editorial design and Photoshop, luckily, I discovered so many other realms of design that I work in now: UX/UI, brand design, web design illustration, and much more!

What are your biggest inspirations in your art (i.e., people, places, things)?

I’d say on a subject level, much of what inspires my artwork is the world directly around me – a fierce woman walking down the street, gorgeous architecture above me, the scenery I grew up loving in the northwest, etc. But in more recent years, much of my direct experience as an Asian woman and abrupt reckoning with injustice both in our past and present has been a driving force in my work. I’m a firm believer that design and art are incredibly powerful tools in advocacy, anti-racism, education, and so much more than just tools of my career.

Do you think that you have a style? If so, how would you describe it? If not, why is that?

In terms of illustration, absolutely! It’s often hard for me to describe my artwork as cohesive because I am always trying new techniques and drawing new subjects, but I always hear a few things from others talking about my work. I’m often told it looks very child-like and playful, you’ll see lots of bubbly lettering, pink palettes, women, expressive movement, etc. And the more detailed description I love to hear is that it captures incredibly nuanced topics (anti-racism, advocacy, intersectionality) in very clear, approachable images.

What is most important to you when expressing your art?

Art is incredibly healing for me. For me personally, art has remained the primary vessel of my voice. Making that message clear, whatever it is, is always the most important thing for me when making artwork. And while I’m a firm believer that art doesn’t need a particular rhyme or reason to be created or valued, I take much pride in creating work that reflects the change I want to see in my community.

Where do you feel your art is going next?

I’m not quite sure, but what I do know is that I aim to be connected with greater forces for good. Maybe it’s working with educators in creating more visual tools for classrooms. Maybe it’s collaborating with more non-profits working directly on advocacy and awareness campaigns. Maybe it’s just creating for the sake of my own healing. In the meantime, I’ll just keep following my gut and chasing work that utilizes my skills for good with my community.

Find Courtney on her website or LinkedIn.

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