Astute and knowledgeable observers will have no doubt noticed that our logo has been blatantly repurposed (i.e., “lifted”) from the venerable radical publishing house The Vanguard Press, whose heyday ran from the mid-1920s to about the end of the Great Depression. Vanguard remained in existence until the mid-1980s, but their strict commitment to radical publishing had pretty much waned by the end of the Second World War. The end of that commitment also marked the premature demise of a wonderful piece of American visual propaganda. So we stole it. It was just too good a piece of intellectual property to leave drifting alone and unclaimed in the eternal wilderness of publishing history.
To us, the Vanguard logo conveys a near-perfect conceptual and compositional symmetry: the Ideal Worker balances between Labor and Knowledge, the sledgehammer in one hand a necessary tool for constructive progress—but also at the ready to smash down the bigotry and injustice of the Old Order whenever they are encountered. In the other hand, the written word: every individual’s window onto the world beyond himself, and a tool even mightier than the hammer for breaking the chains of class slavery.
Our hats go off to the now-anonymous artist who devised this singular bit of graphic genius, and our apologies—for what they’re worth—we offer to the good-hearted publisher who first paid his fee. We’re living off your residuals, and as we look around America almost a hundred years later, we can’t justly claim to have done you proud.