Summer 2023

Aspen Music Festival and School


Visual Identity · Generative Design · Lettering

Type Directors Club Winner 2024︎︎︎

Known for its first-rate classical music concerts and prestigious music education programs since 1949, the Aspen Music Festival and School annually assembles promising young talent with international stars on the grand stage that is the Rocky Mountains.

The resulting visual identity is informed by the lush mountainous landscape, sheet music typography, and movement quality of the orchestra itself to create a generative music-responsive wordmark and accompanying identity.

Identifying the festival's core values

I began by researching the festival and identifying its top three core values:
Taking place is the beautiful Rocky Mountains in Aspen, Colorado, the festival celebrates the union of mind, body, and spirit, through music and nature.
The festival brings world-class musicians together with the greatest young talents to create opportunitiy for unparalleled music education.
Attracting both the stars of today and tomorrow to its stage, audience members to the festival know that they will be hearing the highest caliber of classical music performance.

Analyzing the current identity

The current lettermark for the festival is unspecific. This M constructed of simple geometric shapes could be generically applied to various subject matters and does not have much to say about Aspen Music Festival and School's individuality.
The application of the identity to additional materials is inconsistent, sometimes using the geometric shapes and blue-green gradient of the logo, and other times using an entirely different color system and rugged shape language.

Initial logo ideation

Through my initial sketches, I explored referencing classical music notation and abstractions of nature through organic form and mountain-like silhouettes.

Additional explorations included ideas of community and education.

Lettering iterations

My final direction explored creating a sense of music and mountains through the expression of type with custom hand-lettering.

I pushed complexity and ornament by asking, what if we go to the extreme with the entire festival name lettered in this bespoke style, versus only part of it? What is the right amount?
Click to Pause.

Influences from music notation and nature

The final direction for the logo takes heavy inspiration from music notation:
  • A-S ligature references the treble clef
  • Shifting baseline imitates music notes moving up and down the staff
  • Overall shape and angle mirrors mountains and their intense incline
  • Secondary type as solid ground for the "mountain" to rest on
  • Stark contrast in typesize for a grand sense of scale, reflecting the mountains of Aspen


Arsenica appears as the secondary type in the logo, but is also used as the identity's primary typeface. With its serious tone of voice and fluid italics, it reflects the typography of sheet music, but with a modern twist.

Museo Sans is the identity's secondry typeface. It reads well at small sizes with open counters, and shares a similar skeleton to Arsenica with round circular curves.


The colors were chosen for their links to summer in Aspen with lush forests, warm sunshine, and wide open skies. The colors also support a serious tone of voice and air of prestige, while still expressing the vibrancy of music.

Programming a music-responsive logo

Built using a combination of p5.js and variable font technology, the wordmark is music-reactive. Interpolating through variations of baseline and distortion, the letterforms of the wordmark respond to both volume and pitch of live audio input. As they travel up and down, the letterforms create different mountainous landscapes.
The sound directly informs the movement of the logo without artificial easing or smoothing of motion to most accurately represent the imperfect raw expression of music with vibrato and all. The result allows the logo to behave like different instruments accordingly, sometimes appearing like the bows of the strings section, and sometimes like the struck keys of a piano.

*Use Google Chrome for best results.

Final Identity

Aspen Music Festival and School's new identity communicates both the inspirational energy of the event and lush natural environment through its vibrant color palette; through the generative wordmark creating rolling mountains as it’s informed by music; and through dynamic typography that both references the visuals of sheet music and feeling of rhythm.