A movement’s symbol for a world without nuclear weapons
September 21, 2019
On International Peace Day 2019, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is providing a sneak peek at its updated look and feel (which will roll out before the end of the year) and diving deep into the history of its iconic logo.
The icon, a repentant nuclear missile locked in a peace symbol, was designed for ICAN by Australian artist Neil Campbell and inspired by the symbolic artwork of Peter Kennard and Gerald Holtom and the millions of people around the world who rallied behind the movements for peace and an end of nuclear weapons. This is a brief history of its origins:
1958: British artist Gerald Holtom designs a symbol for the Alderton march against nuclear war.The logo was a combination of the letters “N” (two arms outstretched pointing down at 45 degrees) and “D” (one arm upraised above the head) of the flag semaphore alphabet, and quickly became the symbol of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. But more than that, the symbol quickly travelled around the world, becoming an international emblem for anti-war movements, and universally associated with Peace to this day.
This powerful piece of protest art – currently in the Tate Modern museum in London – quickly became a symbol for the movement against the modernisation of the Trident nuclear weapons systems. But above all, it became a symbol for the people’s power agains these inhumane, immoral weapons “ The Crushed Missile photomontage aims to show that it is only protest by the people that can stop the missiles of destruction. Presidents, prime ministers and dictators won’t wash their hands of nuclear weapons unless we campaign against them.”
2006: Australian designer Neil Campbell and ICAN Co-founder Dr Bill Williams create a logo for ICAN. Inspired by the iconic works of Holtom and Kennard, Bill & Neil created a logo for the newly founded organization that would grow into a symbol for a worldwide movement to promote a global treaty banning nuclear weapons.As Neil Campbell says: “This little visual message was designed by myself and Bill paying homage to, and expanding the life of Gerald’s remarkable symbol – whilst paying cheeky tribute to Peter Kennard … a team effort really.”
Since its inception the icon has been freely adopted by partner organisations and campaigners across the world. At times it has been adapted for use on video, printed materials, products and banners, sometimes with slight alterations to colour and form (solid colours, outlines, etc) but the fundamental design remains.
2019: ICAN’s updated look and feel
After ICAN achieves a historic milestone in 2017, the successful negotiation of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and receives the Nobel Peace Prize as a recognition for its role in making this Treaty a reality, the campaign turns all its energies into achieving the Treaty’s rapid entry into force, stigmatising nuclear weapons, and empowering people all over the world to take action against them. In 2019, this includes working on an updated, consistent look and feel that reflects the campaign ICAN is and needs to be in order to end nuclear weapons, as well as modern, fit for purpose website. And this International Peace Day, ICAN is lifting the veil on that crucial component of any look and feel: the logo, which remains largely unchanged, in order to honour the long-standing history of this powerful icon, which has meant so much to everyone that has worked on this campaign over the years, and will continue to inspire and symbolise our work to end nuclear weapons.
Both the new look and the new website will be rolled over the coming months, but ICAN campaigners can already access the new styleguide on request.