RCA Society

CND Logo - Gerald Holtom

RCA graduates are often somewhere behind those Iconic images and products which fill our lives. The CND logo is an example.

Gerald Holtom (1914 -1985) submitted his logo design to his local anti-nuclear campaigning group as a symbol to be used in an Aldermaston march … the Direct Action Committee (DAC - a peace movement organisation and forerunner of CND) took up the motif and eventually it was universally adopted as the symbol for anti nuclear campaigning. Holtom graduated from the RCA in the mid 1930s when the world was in turmoil and plunging into another world war.

There are a number of other mythologies around the evolution of the motif and the significance of the striking black and white image symbol of a circle containing strong directional lines. Holtom’s design evolved from taking the semaphore positions of ’N’ and ‘D’ (signifying ‘Nuclear Disarrmament’) which was also perceived as a cross formation (without being overtly religious). Holtom was a pacifist and committed conscientous objector during WW2, (a ‘political’ rather than ‘religious’ position) and, as a designer, being sensitive to a wide range of needs, enabled the symbol to be universally acceptable to everyone campaigning for peace and against the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Many other artists and designers have lent their skills to campaigning organisations and created many iconic images that generations of people can refer to. Peter Kennard, who studied and later taught at the Royal College of Art, is well known for his ‘photo montage’ works criticising the use of weapons and war. He was a regular contributor to CND’s campaigning and you can find a number of his articles and images published in AND Journal of Art & Art Education, a highly regarded issue based art magazine produced by RCA graduates.