Just before the Cleveland Cavaliers announced their new brand identity to the world, Audetorium had the distinct opportunity to speak with artist Daniel Arsham about his vision for the teams new look.
They say the classics never go outta style. From Motown’s hits that are still doo-woping their way out of speakers in diners and block parties around the country, to the shimmering paint job on a 1967 Ford Shelby Mustang. Some things just get better with time and continue to evolve as others do their best to mimic their timelessness.
THE NEW DRIP
Under the direction of their creative director – internationally renowned, multi-hyphenated artist, Daniel Arsham – the Cleveland Cavaliers have recently unveiled the design for the team’s new branding. The vision for the set of logos is bold and new, giving its young team of athletes an emblem worthy of their talent, while still being rooted in the history of the team by paying homage to classic logos of days gone by.
Prior to the creation of this latest branding, the teams design aesthetic, while flashy and intimidating, lacked a sense of direction. There were too many color palettes, too many variations, and not enough heart and soul (an affliction that one could say affects nearly all major NBA teams at the moment).
This is where Arsham was able to step in.
The Cleveland born artist creates a minimalist aesthetic in his body of fine art and plays with the idea of contemporary monoliths becoming artifacts of the future. This expression of the past, present, and future being made one is also seen in the Cavs’ newborn aesthetic. It is a refined, reductive version of the teams previous branding that was imagined by Arsham through the lens of his own memories of watching the team play in the 80’s and 90’s.
“I DIDN’T WANT TO COME IN AND TOTALLY ALTER THE LANGUAGE OF WHAT THE TEAM HAS BEEN BUILDING SINCE THE ‘70S,” ARSHAM TOLD AUDETORIUM. “THAT’S WHY THE NEW LOGO HAS CHARACTERISTICS WHERE IT’S SIMULTANEOUSLY NEW BUT ALSO FEELS FAMILIAR. IT REFERENCES MULTIPLE ERAS, AND THERE’S THINGS IN IT THAT THE FANS WILL RECOGNIZE.”
By design, some of the changes to the brand might be subtle enough that less die-hard fans won’t notice at first glance. However, the recreation of the iconic 1983 logo that introduced the basketball net “V” will invoke nostalgia even in those who are rooting for the other team. It’s this reimagining of the classic logo, worn in the past by players like Brad Daugherty and Mark Price, that will be turning heads as it’s seen sitting courtside on players like Darius Garland, Kevin Love, and Jarrett Allen.
“GOING TO GAMES WHEN I WAS A KID DURING THE MARK PRICE ERA – I HAD A PRICE JERSEY THAT HAD THE LOGO WITH THE “V” AND THE BASKETBALL HOOP. THAT ERA HAS SUCH A KIND OF NOSTALGIC FEELING FOR ME AND I WANT TO GIVE THAT FEELING BACK TO SOME OF THE FANS THAT ALSO REMEMBER THAT ERA THE WAY I DO.”
Along with a redesign of the logos themselves, the team’s color palette was distilled down to its two most iconic colors.
Wine and gold.
“A lot of my work generally is about reduction in simplicity. I always find that images and graphics that are more simplified have the potential to become iconic. That’s one of the main reasons I chose to reduce our color palette.”
These two colors are synonymous with The Cavaliers brand. However, for the past several years the team has opted to use a yellow rather than actual gold in their branding. Arsham’s revision of the brand has brought back the opulence of gold and with it a bit of pageantry that will have the crowds of fans inside the FieldHouse glittering under the lights of the arena.
“PEOPLE WILL SEE AS THE JERSEYS GET REVEALED LATER THIS SUMMER AND WILL SEE HOW SUPER POWERFUL AND CLEAN AND MODERN THEY ARE THROUGH THEIR SIMPLICITY. I THINK THE FANS AND THE PLAYERS ARE GOING TO LOVE THEM.”
Whether you are a Cavs fan or not; Whether you were cheering for the team in the 80s and 90s or are a younger fan; Whether you are familiar with the work of Daniel Arsham or have no idea how enlightened it was of The Cavs to make him their creative director, there is no denying that this evolution of the team’s brand is set to become a new classic.