ThoughtMatter uses physical design to cleverly point audiences to Tacoma Arts Live

Following a change of address for the performing arts centre, a new campaign turns to wayfinding, arrows and impactful forms to energise its presence.

1 February 2023


Like many in the arts sector, Tacoma Arts Live has recently weathered major changes – for the Washington-based performing arts centre, the pandemic was followed by a move to a new building. Both meant the centre needed to reintroduce itself to the community and get audiences to engage. Design studio ThoughtMatter has devised a solution that uses vibrant physical design – wayfinding, signage and posters – to point audiences towards the organisation, and create presence in a new neighbourhood.

The branding project nicely blends wayfinding imagery like maps, intersecting paths and arrows with existing brand imagery from the centre’s 40-year history. The arrows, for example, are built from deconstructed elements of the geometric brand symbol. Throughout the campaign, the arrows serve to physically direct viewers to the Tacoma Armory, the centre’s new home and “a building that few in the community even knew was an arts venue”, says a press release.


ThoughtMatter: Tacoma Arts Live (Copyright © Tacoma Arts Live, 2023)

Another element of the project is the “spark”. A four-pronged ‘star’ symbol that usually sits at the heart of the logo has been repurposed to suggest a new sense of vibrancy. It also mirrors Tacoma Arts Live’s wider mission of “energising community through live performance”.

ThoughtMatter also served as the studio behind a full rebrand for Tacoma Arts Live back in 2017, so the new project offered an opportunity to see how robust the original design foundation was, while allowing the team to play with elements of the source material in new ways too. For example, the brand red has been paired with an “energising” palette, while a new typeface nods to the sharp curves of the spark symbol.

“Once we landed on the positioning of ‘Inciting the Spark Within’, recognising the graphic spark at the heart of the current brand mark, it felt like a huge moment of realisation,” explains ThoughMatter creative director Ben Greengrass. “Using that spark symbol as the catalyst and focal point of the system, we went about creating a more expressive campaign for the invigorated organisation.” ThoughtMatter has worked with numerous art and cultural institutions in the past, including NYC’s Greene Space and Web3 diversity pioneers World of Women.

GalleryThoughtMatter: Tacoma Arts Live (Copyright © Tacoma Arts Live, 2023)

Hero Header

ThoughtMatter: Tacoma Arts Live (Copyright © Tacoma Arts Live, 2023)

Share Article

About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, they worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.