Reinventing the DHTech logo

photo of a sticker, pen, and pin with variations of new DHtech logo

Earlier this year, when we were getting ready to order DHTech swag to bring to the DH2023 conference and share with all of you, we hit a snag: we didn’t have vector versions of our logo, or even any high-resolution versions.

Original DHTech logo

The original DHTech logo was designed by Johannes Biermann and Alexander Steckel, and it was a servicable logo. We were grateful to have it, and it’s been useful. But when the opportunity came to revisit it, there was a sense that the logo communicated “tech” pretty well but not so much “humanities.” A few people also commented about the lack of color.

Somehow, I got inspired to revisit and rework the logo. At first I started trying to trace and recreate the existing logo in Figma - but why trace a drawing of a gear manually when you can write code that to generate any number of different gears? I had been experimenting with drawing leaves in d3.js radial coordinates for one of my projects, so I already knew how to start.

I’m embedding a cleaned up version of my Observable notebook so you can see how I generated it, and if you want you can play with the variables used to generate different gear-like shapes.

I tinkered with d3.js in Observable and came up with something I liked that was fairly close to our old logo, and then I exported that as an SVG and pulled it into Figma. Because we wanted more color, I was experimenting with gradients and colors that would still suggest a metallic shine but not as monotone, and happened on a gradient that reminded me a bit of a CD-ROM. Once I had that idea, I went looking and found a set of Holographic gradients created by Lily Bather, and chose one that I thought worked well for our logo.

New DHTech logo

I liked the curve of the letters in the original logo and how they fit inside the gear, but I was having trouble finding anything like that, or really any fonts with d and h that would fit nicely inside the curve of the gear.

As I was working on updating the logo, I got the idea to use two different fonts: one of them gesturing at older ways of writing and printing text and one that connected to the more technical and newer aspects of our work. I chose Goudy Bookletter 1911 by Barry Schwartz, which is published as an open-source font, and Ubuntu, which for me has associations with Linux and coding fonts.

I love the new logo, with the juxtaposition of gear and CD-ROM, mechanism and media, history and technology. I hope you enjoy it, too. And if you haven’t gotten any swag yet, keep an eye out for DHTech Steering Committee members at future conferences!