May 31 2012

New Artwork, New Products!

This summer is off to a great start in Seattle! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and Jesse has descended to his basement drawing table to avoid cancerous UV rays and all that constant chirping. Let's see what he's been up to.

Oh boy, I'm sooo excited.

Haha, nice try but I don't understand the concept of sarcasm. Thank you for your sincere interest! Yes, this summer has a lot of promise for some good weather, which means plenty of opportunities for recreation! So what have I decided to play as my summer sport? Hockey!

What.

Ever since I moved to Seattle I've been curious about this strange sport the locals never stop talking about. I'm a Texan and the idea of doing anything on a sheet of ice flabbergasts me, but someone explained it in a way that I could understand. As I see it, it's a delicate cross between figure skating and trying to sweep an ice cream sandwich into the mouth of a guy on the opposing team.

ಠ_ಠ

Well, anyway, after enough exposure I was hooked. Consider it awkward timing, but I started learning to play when it was still cold outside. Now here I am in early June and I'm just getting good enough to play in a game without making my own team mates hate me. 

The team I joined is so new that they didn't have a team name, let alone a logo. I saw my opportunity to ingratiate myself with my new teammates through artwork since my skating skills weren't up for the task. Our team name is "Puckin' Eh?", which doesn't lend itself to any obvious directions for logo design so we decided to also have a beaver as a mascot. Well, that's a pretty good starting point.

I asked myself, what is the essence of beaverness? It turns out it's not a difficult question to answer: a waffle tail and two buck teeth. Then I thought, if a beaver were a sports team mascot, how would it be different from your run-of-the-mill wild beaver? Well, it would have to look tough, like a prehistoric version of itself. A unibrow and serious expression is needed. Also some token sports equipment is required. A hockey stick is made of wood so that would make it an obvious snack for the character, too. With all this in mind, here's my first sketch of the little guy.

beaver sketch

Christin was kind enough to point out that the bite mark in the hockey stick would have to at least look like it was made with two teeth instead of three. I also decided that the hockey stick should be held at an angle to make the image look a little more balanced.

After the second draft, I scanned and digitized it in my preferred vector-based format. I varied the line weight to exaggerate curves here and there, changed the tail pattern to something that was a little cleaner, and added some tape on the stick since I'm a serious hockey player and I care about stuff like that now. My teammates were also adamant that the beaver needed to be a "wet beaver", so I added some beads of sweat on his Neanderthal brow.

We also wear white and black jerseys, so I needed to create a specialized version for a black jersey. It didn't require much more effort than inverting the whitespace and adding an outline to close out the original line art.

Finally, I came to the tough part, printing the design on a polyester jersey. Nine times out of ten, Christin and I are printing on 100% cotton fabric. We'll sometimes print on 50/50 cotton polyester fabric, but when we do we have to be very careful about heating the garment as we cure the ink. I did my homework and found a specialized ink that cures fast enough to not damage the fabric and is specially formulated to bond to polyester fibers. Here's the print on my very own black jersey.

And just for thoroughness, here's a closeup of the print. I was pleased with the consistency of the ink and how it handled printing on a textured jersey fabric surface. The tiny holes in the fabric were closed entirely by the ink all over the print area. I couldn't have asked for better results for our first polyester print test!

So there it is. I'm playing hockey and we are now printing on polyester jerseys. Who knows what we'll be up to next!