The designer of the Amnesty logo was the late Diana Redhouse, who died in October 2007, aged 84. During the second world war, Diana had been conscripted to work in the UK Government’s drawing office. She trained at Central St Martins College of Art and Design in London before working as a graphic designer, and was inspired to found the Hampstead branch of Amnesty after reading an article by the charity’s founder, Peter Benenson.
In 1963, the Amnesty founder wrote to Diana to say that her design, a candle in barbed wire, had been chosen for Amnesty’s first ever Christmas card because of its simplicity and the effectiveness of its symbolism.
The logo combines two recognisable images inspired by the Chinese proverb, “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
The barbed wire represents “the darkness” (hopelessness) of people put in jail where they think nobody remembers they are there. They are imprisoned for unfair reasons, most likely because they said or did something that seemingly threatened the power and authority of the Government to control the actions and thoughts of its citizens. They are political prisoners.
The candle represents Amnesty International’s commitment to remember that political prisoners are being held all over the world and AIʼs commitment to bring the prisoners hope for their fair treatment and eventual release.
The Amnesty logo was refined in 2000 by Simon Endres, formerly of Kirshenbaum Bond, and now half of Pro-Am, Inc in New York.