New Year resolutions often dissolve quickly. By concretizing values and goals into a written mission and a visual logo, however, we can enjoy a beautiful aide memoire
of what’s important to us all year long ... or longer. Think of creating something artistic and meaningful that can be an aesthetically pleasing and a self-affirming logo to sit on a desk or hang on a wall, something that expresses you and your ideals. Businesses have signage to proclaim their purpose. Why not personalize the idea? It’s fun (and self-revelatory as well). To give an example of how to do it, I’ll share my process for creating one:
When I founded American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a NYC 501 (C) (3) nonprofit organization, I was challenged to create both a mission and a logo to aesthetically express it. The mission: “An educational nonprofit foundation dedicated to a rebirth of beauty and life-affirming values in all of the fine arts.” In practice, this means that we champion art that portrays the world at its most beautiful and man and woman at their best. It further means that we support the work of contemporary — meaning living! — artists who preserve and advance the established Western-heritage art forms: representationalism in painting and sculpture; melody and harmony in music; grace in dance; structure, coherence and meaning in drama, poetry, and literature — and the expression of beauty in all.
Next: the logo. This required visualizing the mission in symbolic terms. I decided on the circle as the symbol for eternity surrounded by a square as the symbol for reality, a combination made famous by Leonardo da Vinci’s "Vetruvian Man," representing humanism. I then added a rose as a symbol of beauty, a sunrise as a symbol of a Renaissance, an eagle’s wing as a symbol of America (where a Renaissance can flourish), and a butterfly wing as a symbolic reminder of ancient Greece where Western civilization began both philosophically and artistically (The butterfly is symbolic for the Greek word psyche or “soul.”) The colors? Gold: the most precious of metals and the color of the sun; purple (the border): the color of spirituality being the combination of our blue planet and life’s red blood (existence and consciousness merged); silver became the color of the rose, symbol of pure sterling beauty. Because this is an organization, I created the acronym ART from the first letters of the foundation that also alludes to our mission of championing “art,” and added that to the image. A personal logo, of course, doesn’t need an acronym.
Using the above methods, why not create your own mission and logo for this New Year? In writing, clarify your mission by enumerating the top values you wish to pursue and then formulate them into one sentence that succinctly sums them all up. This exercise alone can be enormously beneficial introspectively and self-revealing as you sort through your value system to select the most important and fundamental ones.
Next, select symbols that visually express your written values. You’ll need a different symbol for each value you want to include, so this exercise is also self-explorative and self-expressing. Once you have your symbols, arrange them into a composition. You don’t need to be an artist to do any of this. Just play with different arrangements using pen or pencil on paper until you like the look of your symbolic logo. Then decide your colors so they exemplify the symbols that visually exemplify your written mission. Finally, using colored pencils, felt markers, paints, or whatever medium you like, render your logo in color on thick paper and paste that onto a firm surface. Or compose your logo on the computer, searching for and then employing already existing images of your symbols and change the colors at will until you like your completed logo, then print it. Or select separate images anywhere, cut them out, arrange them, and paste on paper or board. When finished, frame your logo. You now have a beautiful visual version of your value mission for the year.
“Know thyself” is a venerable adage that your logo will express aesthetically. This maxim may be found in ancient Egyptian writings, in Indian Hinduism, in the Judeo-Christian Bible, in Buddhism, and many other religious scripts. It can also be found in Greek philosophical writings: “Know thyself” is inscribed onto the wall of the forecourt of Apollo’s temple at Delphi, Socrates was famous for arguing that in order to be wise one must know oneself, and Aristotle claimed that “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” In China, Lao Tsu advised that “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.”
What more enjoyable way to celebrate this soon-to-arrive January 1st than by creating your own mission and logo to aesthetically express who you are now or wish to be by next New Year’s day?
Happy New Year to all!
Alexandra York is an author and founding president of the American Renaissance for the Twenty-first Century (ART) a New-York-City-based nonprofit educational arts and culture foundation (www.art-21.org). She has written for many publications, including "Reader’s Digest" and The New York Times. Her latest book is "Adamas." Her latest book is "Adamas." For more on Alexandra York, Go Here Now.
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