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Willie Nelson & Texas Monthly

Standing for Equality


Logos, Iconography & Illustration


Design Team: Christian Helms

The Story

Some projects are just too good not to dive into, whether there’s a client or not.

In spring 2013 the debate around marriage equality was heating up across the nation, and the conversation fueled a unique moment in design history. Political discourse, design and social media intersected in a period when tens of thousands of Americans posted customized avatars, icons and images to show their support of equal rights for all couples.

Like many designers, Christian created an icon that represented him personally. In his case, it happened to be hot dogs. Within an hour, he received a call from Esquire and Texas Monthly writer Andy Langer, who was writing a piece on his favorite equality images. Later that evening, Langer was interviewing Austin’s beloved Willie Nelson.

Conversation quickly turned to Willie. Over the years he had hinted at support for LGBT rights, but he’d never gone on record. What if we designed an equality symbol for Willie, as a catalyst for conversation and support?

Just hours later, Christian found himself aboard Willie’s travelling home, Honeysuckle Rose, talking marriage equality with Neslon and Langer. Willie sad he liked the icon highlighting his signature braids. Unreal. And he LOVED the one that featured two smoking joints!

Willie shared his thoughts and a handful of Willie-isms, and tucked away the posters to hold up onstage later that evening. The next morning they were featured on Texas Monthly, and quickly the story spread nationally. It was beyond exciting. We’re honored to have helped Willie make a statement and proud to show our support for marriage equality – not to mention thankful to Andy Langer for the call.

Helms Workshop®