The signature look, style, and design of the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) brand is easily recognized. But who is behind its creation? To take a closer look at PAMM’s signature branding, we spoke to the museum’s in-house designers—Junior Graphic Designer Pamela Gonzalez and Senior Visual Designer Raymond Adrian.
Can you share some background on your path as a graphic designer?
Pamela Gonzalez: I worked for a startup company for a long time and kind of taught myself graphic design through that experience. Working at PAMM has helped me refine those skills in a way. I went to school for visual art and I took some digital classes, but Florida International University (FIU) didn’t have a program at the time. Today, they have a whole graphic design department, which is helpful in this industry. I would say I’m self taught, just experimenting as I go, learning and researching on my own and through trial and error. A couple of years ago, I was able to intern with PAMM in marketing and transitioned into a permanent role, learning so much while on the job.
Raymond Adrian: I was always involved in some way with art and design. When I followed design as a career path, my first job was at Frank, a design studio that received work from Crispin Porter Bogusky—a leading advertising and marketing agency in 2005. Crispin Porter Bogusky, and other similar agencies, would hire Frank to create work for clients like Volkswagen, Dominos’ Pizza, Geek Squad, and more.
In 2008, I started working at Elastic People, an agency that is still thriving in the Miami Design District. The workload was about 30% standard branding and identity and the other 70% was music branding and identity. I worked on projects for Mana, Ricky Martin, Daddy Yankee, and other artists like that. During that time, I was considering a move to New York City when a friend told me about an open design position at Miami Art Museum (MAM), PAMM’s predecessor. I applied and fortunately got the job.
With it’s move to the new building on Biscayne Bay, the museum was transitioning into a new brand identity and needed help with that process. The sheer scale of MAM to PAMM—not only in the building size but in everything else—was so vast that I like to compare MAM to a student driver about to get into a Formula F1 race car. It was that drastic of a jump. So I helped steer the design conversations with 2×4, the design agency who originally created the branding for PAMM. I used my design expertise to relay information to colleagues, help make decisions, and shape the brand.
Thom Collins, who was the director at the time, appreciated how I handled the situation asked me to stay and help build out the department. I’m now going into my seventh year here at PAMM.
When you design something pertaining to the museum, do you give it a certain look so that it reflects the brand of the museum?
PG: Most definitely. After working with 2×4 for the museum’s rebranding, Ray was the in-house expert on PAMM brand guidelines. Guidelines are so important for consistency. Just to give you an example, even the smallest things—like the way the text lines up on the edge of a document—needs to be done a certain way. These minor, but major, things keep the brand looking consistent and makes everything uniform and refined for the viewer. The viewer doesn’t even know that it’s happening, but by creating the brand guidelines you’re able to experiment within the grid. Ray trained me to stay within the PAMM guidelines.
RA: When it originally started, we used a color palette of 24 different gradients, which I know were inspired from photographs of Miami sunsets. With a new and empty building waiting for us, it represented that we had no artwork in galleries so the gradients were a representation of that negative space until we moved into the museum. The “portal,” which is the P-A-M-M in the corners, is used to frame the “message.” Up until now, no matter what we do, we try to figure out how to frame our content within the PAMM letters in the corners. After 2016, when current Director Franklin Sirmans came on board, we shifted away from focusing on the new building and looked more to the art for inspiration.
Is the look of PAMM’s brand achieved only through graphic design?
PG: I think it plays the biggest role because that is what people see in everything. They see it in whatever they’re reading online, on the website, in anything physical relating to the museum, in articles, and even with our logo. I think also that the actual space has a lot to do with that as well.
RA: It’s all about problem solving. If your problem is with a photo, your solution is going to deal with the photo. If it’s with animation, it’s going to be an animation. You don’t start with, “Okay I’m going to open Photoshop or Illustrator and make this happen.” It starts with just answering the problem at hand with whatever tools and whatever medium is necessary.
What ideas or images would you say represents PAMM and its brand?
PG: I think a grid, blocks, and shapes. We’re currently adapting the design with 3-D shapes and types, while abstracting them to make them unrecognizable to the viewer and it just looks more like space. We’ve also worked with flat shapes in the past.
RA: When I think of images, the structure and the building itself was the first step. I always feel like the building in any shape or form works—the more abstract and weird it looks, the more interesting it is. From there it goes straight to art or certain color waves. As of recent, we’ve been focusing on themes, like the one we created for the museum’s 35th anniversary. I try to set up guidelines for whatever theme of the year would be—from colors to text. For example, the 35th anniversary theme was made up of colors that each represented the former institutions before PAMM. To make sense of it, we make these simple rules to create order, even though the viewer doesn’t know where these colors come from. It needs to come from somewhere and have some sort of rule in order for it to make sense in the scheme of the whole cohesiveness of the brand.
While making these projects for PAMM, do you reflect you own creativity and style within them?
PG: I try to choose things that I think would appeal to people like me. I think about the younger generation and those creatives and how they would respond to certain things. I put in my own taste, I try to incorporate colors that I find pleasing and just overall visually appealing, and I try to use it as an opportunity as well to learn new techniques for my own practice. We’re currently incorporating a lot of animation, so I will try to experiment more and put my own touch on those animations as well.
RA: Yes and no. When it comes to style, there are little pieces that have been built out. I’m a big fan of subtitles above main images, so “Pérez Art Museum Miami” is usually smaller on top and the main message is usually larger under it. Someone else may do something large on top and something small on the bottom. Those are little things you picked up that were aesthetically pleasing to you when you grew up in the industry. And some things just work—so a design may be laid out in a certain way but it does not technically mean that I do stuff because I just like it. There’s the style and then there is the order of it, but it all comes back to problem solving.
This blog post was authored by Jovanni Dufresne, a Year Up Intern at PAMM.
Jovanni Dufresne is an intern at PAMM as part of the Year Up Program. He currently attends Miami-Dade College and is majoring in business. Jovanni also enjoys creating art.
Pamela Gonzalez is a Miami-based visual artist, designer, and tattoo artist who uses mediums of illustration, collage, and graphic design to appreciate and explore complex human connections and sensibilities. Her style uses influences of modern design and traditional art practices to achieve works that display a relationship with the linear and the organic. She recently completed an artist residency with SIM in Reykjavik, Iceland and currently works as a graphic designer for PAMM.
Raymond Adrian is a Miami native of Cuban descent who has created award-winning works ranging from illustrations, identities, editorials, murals, and sculptures. He is a professor of visual design at Miami Ad School and a designer with 15 years of experience providing visual solutions for a wide array of clientele across various industries, with Volkswagen, EMI, Chevrolet, American Express, and Sony to name a few. His style is influenced by the cultural weaving his city provides and focuses heavily on patterns and clean minimal lines. Adrian has been published in multiple established art publications and is currently the Senior Visual Designer for PAMM.