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ART BLANCHE: The Women’s March on Washington 

Yesterday, millions around the globe marched in solidarity for women’s rights. Following the flagship march in DC, 9:30 Club hosted an after party with 100% of proceeds benefitting Planned Parenthood. Earlier this week, we caught up with the artist whose iconic imagery came to symbolize the march and the movement.

For many, the Women’s March on Washington represents strength and unity in a time marred by uncertainty and fear. It provides amplification for the voices of countless people who feel that their values have been shouted over for the past year or more.

Per its own mission, the march aims to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

For one participant – Nicole LaRue – the opportunity to design a logo for the Women’s March provided a head-start on participating in this platform, even if her involvement started as just a small favor for a friend.

Courtesy of Big Monocle

“[Initially,] the Women’s March organizers kind of had their branding all over the place – just all over the map. When I first learned about the Women’s March it was you know some crazy, neon-y… I don’t know what their branding was,” Nicole explained. “But some woman from Intel – a gay woman named Teresa Herd – she thought, I’d really like to get involved with the March and do something about making super visually impactful, so she called on several design agencies.”

One of the agencies that Teresa reached out was Big Monocle, whose founder and CEO, Amy Stellhorn, was Nicole’s friend. Amy, in turn, asked Nicole if she was interested in helping with Big Monocle’s pitch for the March.

For Nicole, her role was “an overnight process, seriously.” When Amy first reached out to her on Facebook, asking if she’d be up for helping out with some branding, Amy also gave Nicole a strict deadline: “We need it today.”

“I was like, ‘Today? You’re messaging me at 11am, what does that mean, today?’” Nicole remembered, laughing. “So by the end of the day I stayed up a little bit late [working on it], but not terribly late because in my mind I was just sort of helping out and it wasn’t going to be any big deal.”

She was a little wrong there; it became kind of a big deal.

Nicole’s design was one of several variations that Amy and Big Monocle submitted, but ended up being the one chosen by the organizers. The logo as we all know it remains pretty close to Nicole’s initial submission, with only a few simple changes.

Courtesy of Nicole LaRue

“We played with a few color options… one of the silhouettes was a bit more pink so we kind of kneaded it a bit. And the ‘W’ in ‘Women’s March’ we changed, it [originally] had a cross in the middle. We changed it – just a tiny little thing. That’s pretty much [it].”

“From there we just made a whole mess of products and posters and banners and social. Media icons and things like that. And then I got to design some extra merchandise… the ‘Wild Feminist’ tshirts and ‘Girl Almighty’ posters and they’re going to have bags and buttons and stickers and things like that. 

One of the most pleasant surprises for Nicole, and something she calls “surreal,” has been the growth that the march has taken on since she became involved.

“I think it took a bit of doing for it to gain traction, and I actually honestly think that getting the branding out there was [helpful.] It just created some crazy movement that I don’t know that anybody really expected – you just don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “[And then] suddenly Amy Schumer posts the logo on her Instagram and just crazy things, and you think, ‘Ok this is going to be real now… it’s gaining some traction.’”

“I’ve never done something that’s been so visually big. I mean I’ve done some awesome projects and had some really rad clients. But this just seems – I dunno it’s kinda twofold, right? It’s like yeah Amy Schumer, and actually Saturday Night Live totally joked about the logo on Saturday Night Live, saying like, ‘Of course the white woman’s in front’ and then kinda like ‘Oh I’m sure we’re going to get some flak for that.’ But for me that’s awesome press, I couldn’t care less if they’re joking about it.”

Courtesy of Nicole LaRue

Looking back, Nicole wonders how different her work would have been had she realized how big the march would become. One day is not a lot of time for a project in the world of graphic design, and in hindsight, maybe being so rushed and somewhat nonchalant about her initial design worked to her advantage.

“Maybe it works out better that way, I dunno. In hindsight you can say that you didn’t have a chance to just overthink it. And it’s just a fairly simple, iconic logo. It could’ve been a really stressful and difficult process and for me it was just sort of like, ‘Ok here’s what I’ve got, this is all I can offer’ and that’s great.”

Despite not being from the DC area, Nicole is in town for the march and is staying with a friend she hasn’t seen in years who offered up a place to crash.

“A lot of people are being awesome like that, lending their space.”

Still marveling at the whole experience, she seems hopeful about the march and the voice it can provide.

“I’ve never been any kind of patriot to America, I’ve never felt any sense of ‘This is my country’ and yet this, for me, is a bit of a turning point,” Nicole explained. “I just think that right now we need a bigger voice than ever – a much bigger voice than ever. And to be a little part of that, it’s kind of exciting. I’ve never had the chance to be a part of something so big.” 

“Since I don’t have this crazy ability with words, graphics is what I got, and I think that’s nice… nice right now.”

-Dylan Singleton

Okay, can we talk about this sketch where baby Kate plays a vegan cooking show host? I’ve never seen this before, but i think its my new favorite thing!

(Also sorry for the bad-ish quality!)

I do not own this video! 

The Big Gay Sketch Show, Logo

Season 2, Episode 8