The Birth of a Logo

An artistic logo for a scientific mission

Why should the EXTraS Project have any other logo if it can have one designed by artists? The collaboration between INAF - Astronomical Observatory of Brera and the Brera Academy of Fine Arts is well estabilished by years of art & science projects. This time, Alessandra Angelini (Graphic Art teacher at the Brera Academy) and five students of hers were involved in a new challenge: designing a logo both with a scientific recognisable theme and a strong emotional content.

They started from some inputs coming from the EXTraS team: the XMM-Newton slew sky map and the concept of a “transient” signal. At the end, the latter idea, suggested by A. Tiengo from IUSS, revealed as the most fertile. Federica Canaparo, the author of the adopted logo, drew the logo by free hand, and then converted it into a vectorial format. She counted on two elements: simplicity and heart of the message.

Christian Gavina, Dian Ivanov, Giacomo Nioi, Elena Sofia Orsini, Luigi Talucci also proposed logos, that you can see in the slide show above. (credits: Project by Alessandra Angelini. Collaboration by Francesco Baldassarro, illustrator and commercial artist.)

EXTraS Meets Federica

Federica Canaparo is 21 years old. She’s going to attend the 3rd year of the Fine Art Academy of Brera. She designed and drew the official EXTraS logo.
She is sitting in front of me, in the Public Outreach & Education office of the INAF-Astronomical Osservatory of Brera, a couple of floors above the Academy, in the same Brera Palace. She smiles: a few hours ago she took two exams of her Academy courses.

Federica Canaparo
Fig 1:  The EXTraS logo and its author, Federica Canaparo, student at the Brera Fine Arts Academy

EXTraS: Hi Federica, welcome. Are you satisfied of your exams?
Federica: Sure, I liked them. Especially “Creative writing”. It was exciting all year round!

EXTraS: Did they give you exercises like “Write a novel without the letter e like Georges Perec did* ”?
Federica (smiling): No, but we made a lot of practice with constraints and rules, trying to transform them into something creative. Rhyme is a very simple example of it: if you can use it, it turns out to be very useful. It can add unexpected flavours or meanings to your thoughts. Just an example.

EXTraS: You really have a passion for it. When did you discover your vocation for Fine Arts?
Federica: My father… he was very skilled with his hands. After his work, even if it was late or he was tired, we would spend a lot of time drawing …. He was very creative and passionate. I’ll remember the climate of those evenings forever.

EXTraS: And how did you encounter the EXTraS project?
Federica: Our professor, Alessandra Angelini, told us you were looking for a new artistic logo. She told us something about your scientific project: the transient sources, the variable sky, the satellite and so on. And I thought it could be an interesting challenge.

EXTraS: And you did very well, since your logo was chosen by the EXTraS team to be the official one of the project (Figure 1). I must admit it was quite hard to choose, because all of you students designed very exciting solutions for our logo.
Federica: The logo had to be dynamic, showing the transient, and synthetic: a few lines to convey the right message. First I drafted it free-hand, then for a professional outcome I used a vectorial program. I must say that the original idea from you, the fading wave, was very nice. I adopted it promptly, as you saw.

EXTraS: Federica, you told us about your interest in Art. And what about Science? What do you think of it?
Federica: Well, I’m not specifically interested in Science, even if I know there is a lot of creativity involved. But I’m very curious: this is why I accepted the challenge. Daniel Pennac wrote in his Mr Malaussene: “I was born for curiosity. Is there a better reason to be born?”

* La disparition, G. Perec (1969), is a novel he wrote without using the e, the most common vowel in French.