By Phil Hecken
Every so often, as a lede, I will run a set of uniform concepts from a single designer that are either so good, so innovative, or so special that they deserve to be set apart from the normal “Concepts” section. Today is one of those days. In what I plan on making a somewhat regular feature, whenever I do feature the designs of one of the Uni Watch readership, I intend to call that day’s column “Designing Minds” and if possible, to arrange for a little Q&A with the designer so that we might get into his (or her) head and learn what makes those gears spin.
For my inaugural edition of “Designing Minds,” I will be featuring a gentleman named Jake Nevill, who approached me much as any concepter would have. It began with a simple E-mail with this text:
I recently started doing fan concepts for college football uniforms and they are getting pretty positive feedback. If you ever do anything of that sort, I am more than willing to share my stuff.
[At this point, Jake shared a few galleries of his work — PH]
You can contact me through email or twitter. Big fan!
It started simply enough, until I began to look at some of those galleries. Now, I wasn’t completely blown away — but I was very impressed, and one thing led to another — Jake and I exchanged several e-mails and I ended up selecting ten of my favorites, and asked Jake to describe them. My absolute favorite (and one that DID blow me away) I used for today’s splash — the Thundering Herd of Marshall, with a sublimated jersey design that I just thought looked incredible. I picked nine more (which will follow, along with Jake’s own descriptions of the inspiration and design process he used). But first, let’s meet Jake.
Uni Watch: Where did you go to school, and did you study design there?
Jake Nevill: I grew up in Hot Springs, AR and went to college at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, where I currently reside. I received a B.A. in Studio Art with an emphasis on Graphic Design and am currently looking to move towards Fayetteville and pursue a career in Sports Marketing.
UW: How long have you been doing uniform design? Have you always been a sports fan, and did you do what we call “refrigerator art” or drawings as a kid?
JN: I have always been a sports fan/design enthusiast, but have only been doing concepts for about three months. Growing up, I did draw uniforms and waste many hours exhausting the possibilities of customized teams in video games, so I guess I have been doing it in some form my whole life. I never really connected my love for sports with my goals as a professional designer until I did my first set of Arkansas concepts a few months back though. I started out just making my “ideal” version of the uniform, followed by some more experimental ones. After doing a few Arkansas concepts, I started to figure out better ways to achieve what I wanted and wanted to tackle more teams. I took to the College Football page of Reddit.com to see if anybody had any requests for team/player/etc. to help me decide where to start. About a dozen got back to me, and a week or so later I posted a gallery, which went somewhat viral. I was featured in a few articles online, and it even found its way on ESPNU’s Unite show.
UW: Impressive! And you just went on from there?
JN: After that, I decided to do another set of teams, and uploaded them a week later. I started doing, and included helmets with that set. That second set’s imgur page had over 20,000 view in a couple weeks, compared to the 4,000-6,000 of the first set. I plan on submitting new sets each time I have around a dozen that I have done, and also upload them as I go on my twitter account.
UW: I don’t want to say any of your designs are “crazy” (at least not like some of the UW concepters are), and you have a nice mix of traditional in with what I’ll call your more “out there” concepts. Would you say you’re more traditional in your thought process? Which teams’ uniforms do you like the best?
JN: I am a traditionalist in terms of taste. Penn State has the best college uniforms, Cleveland, the NFL. I do like the other side of the coin, but feel that in most cases, you lose the form of the player in adding too much. I’m not a big fan of thin accents on the torso, or excessive details in multiple areas. I think that more-so the basic, classic designs can be altered or rethought to achieve a lot of the unique looks programs want. Continuing a stripe here, or dropping a stripe there can really find a balance between classic and modern. My philosophy is that you can have bold uniforms by subtraction, and focus. 50% of a football uniform is decided by colors, and the number. The rest is just how you blend it together. When you spend too much time dressing up those extra details, the uniform loses it’s identity a little.
UW: Your designs seen to be restrained, which is nice.
JN: I think my work gets separated from a lot of concepts because I value traditional elements more than most, therefor provide my own balance when trying to innovate in some way. I also make it a point to make makable uniforms. I follow the uniform’s pattern, think about whether a stripe would need to be stitched or printed, and never do image overlays unless I can rationalize them.
UW: I notice you do some schools that don’t have Nike as a supplier, but yet have the swoosh. Is that your template?
JN: I do all of my concepts on NIKE template that I made from a press release for the 2012 Arkansas Uniforms that I found on NIKE’s website. I started to try and create other brands from that template, but figured for the time and effort to get them as well done as I would like, it wouldn’t affect much to keep it at NIKE. Some of the concepts are fulfilling requests, a la black Tennessee, which I prefer the orange and white only. I haven’t really drafted any of them before starting, but often brainstorm ideas or come back to ones after a roadblock.
UW: Fantastic stuff, Jake. OK — let me give the readers a look at my ten favorite design concepts.
JN: Please distinguish that the featured ones are your personal picks, and not my personal favorites. I have absolutely no issues with them, just want to make that distinction as a personal preference. Thanks so much for the write up. It means a lot.
UW: You’re welcome — now onto your designs (in no particular order — just my top 10 favorites). The descriptions are all Jake’s:
Click on each image to enlarge.
North Carolina: Although I know the argyle pattern is more of a basketball centered tradition, I wanted to see if I could implement it into the football uniform. I wanted to keep it subtle, so I enlarged the argyle to the point where it could only continue a few links, and tucked it under the sleeves. I wanted to maintain a strong Tarheel Blue to White balance, so left all sleeve details blank.
Metallic sheen to helmet.
Maryland: I’m a big fan of the idea behind the Maryland “Pride” push that Under Armour has done, but often have issues with the finished products. For my attempt at continuing that focus, I wanted to simplify the flag aspects and give them some breathing room. I kept the uniform symmetrical, because I think the split helmet design creates just the right amount of chaos, but any more of that and it becomes dizzy. I also wanted give the appropriate weight to the school’s colors. I think Maryland looks best with the yellow and black toned down some.
Used same Pride helmet that they use already.
Marshall: I started this design with hockey and motocross uniforms in mind. I knew I wanted to use the logo across the front in some fashion, and the design process was an exercise in restraint. I didn’t want to either create something impossible to manufacture, or overtly cartoonish. The sublimated logo originally had facial details and continued into the lower mesh, but I think dialing it back both increases feasibility and gives reading room for the numbers.
Helmet continues sublimated and dark theme.
Washington: I made this design the day it appeared the Sacramento Kings could become my childhood favorite Seattle Sonics. (Note Kings PG, UW alumnus, and hopefully future Sonic Isaiah Thomas.) My favorite designs are always the simple ones, especially with such a rich color scheme. I implemented a small bit of black to add some depth to it, but didn’t want to make it seem like I was forcing it into the scheme.
This was my first attempt at a helmet, and I wanted to try a enlarged logo. I’ll apologize to all UW fans for the “weasel”. One of the fun things about doing this is finding out the little nuances of other fan bases. UW fans hate this logo. A lot.
Tennessee: While we’re apologizing…
Someone asked if I would do a black Tennessee uniform to makeup for the school’s half-attempt at it a few years back. Normally I wouldn’t go that route. I figured though if I’m breaking traditions, I might as well make it bold. I got the checkerboard idea from the Kentucky sleeves from last season. I also wanted to find away to use the classic Vols logo, which I think is an awesome logo. It is tucked into the pattern on the shoulder.
Matte Black helmet.
San Diego State: Aztec art deco has so many interesting qualities, that I can’t understand why the school doesn’t embrace them more in it’s branding. I tried to highlight that in the shoulder stripes. The numbers are influenced by soccer uniforms and the 1968 Mexico City Olympic branding. I figured that a school like SDSU could benefit from trying to appeal to latin americans by highlighting the Mexican influence in that area of the country, much like FSU has done with the Seminole Nation.
Gold helmet with slight glitter.
Cincinnati: I have never been a fan of claw marks or the like on uniforms, but Cincinnati seems to have embraced this as the focus of their branding. I chose to try and contain them to the sleeves to create a more natural style of stripe for the most part, knowing that the simple concept of claw marks already keeps it “out of the box” and unique.
Gradient helmet, but would work well with their HGI red helmet with black pattern.
Georgia Tech: This uniform is plain by design. I tried to simulate a strong sheen and sort of glow to the uniform, and didn’t want anything to interrupt that focus. I made this uniform to be paired against the Georgia one I had created earlier. Where the Georgia one leans on reflective black details, I wanted this one to be a sort of ying to the Georgia yang. That is why all the colors are richer and lighter than typical. I used a subtle honeycomb shoulder patch to keep with branding.
It was before I did helmets, but would work well with the honeycomb helmet they have worn in the past.
Florida State: For this design I wanted to create a sleek, but natural feel to compliment the school’s identity. I pulled the feather details that FSU uses for trim, and created shoulder stripes from them. The gold trim that runs down the sides is meant to create depth, and also vaguely simulate spears emerging from the feathers.
Iowa: The Iowa uniforms will always suffer from seeming like Steeler rip-offs, but are just as traditional. Therefor I tried to keep the same stripes they have used and embellish them in some way. I got some inspiration from the bold stripe patterns that often run across the shoulders of hockey jerseys. I tried to further modernize the uniforms through the numbers and “Iowa” text on the shoulder. Being a Razorback fan, I had to use our new favorite Hawkeye, Bret Bielema.
Wow – thanks, Jake. And thank you for participating in my “Designing Minds” series. It looks like you’re well on your way to some mighty fine uniform designs — now all you need is some pants! I do hope to have Jake back again with some more of these really, really well done, and beautifully executed designs. Readers, what say you?
New Brew Crew Youniform
Yesterday, after much anticipation, the Milwaukee Brewers broke out their fan-designed “Youniform”.
I didn’t see the game, so I have to go by the few photos from the game that were available, but from what I did see, the Crew looked great (too bad the batters wore their regular helmets). UPDATE: Paul sent me a great set of photos (he made screen grabs from the game — thanks buddy!). They’re much better than my original linkies below.
I love how this just looks like a uniform, and especially the thin piping on the shoulders, reminiscent of some old school unis. Unfortunately, those shoulder stripes look much thinner than that which was actually designed by the Youniform contest winner. I would have preferred slightly thicker piping.
The Brewers wore their custom “Barrelman” cap in the field and the unis had a slight cream tinge to them. I’m not a huge fan of that cap, (if they’re going with Barrelman, they should have used the full barrelman — as seen in Chance Michaels’ Borchert Field blog). But still, the cap had a spring trainey feel to it.
And lets face it, that Youniform is better than anything they’re wearing now. I hope fan reaction is positive and perhaps ownership can be convinced to let the team wear these in a regular season game.
Readers? What do you think of the Crew Youniform?
We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.
So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.
Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.
Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.
And so, lets begin:
We begin today with Anthony Hammes, who apparently likes the color green (too bad I didn’t run these on St. Paddy’s day):
Some Twolves alternates bringing back the old green to the blu unis.
New eagle uni with the kelly green.
Some new Seattle Kings designs which represent sonics colors and sacramento throwback logo. Depending if they are called the kings and not the sonics.
Next up is Yancy Yeater, with a Devils tweak:
I watched both Devils-Pens games over the weekend. I love the Devils home uniforms. But when they played in Pittsburgh, NJ’s white jersey was bugging. I finally figured out why: it’s more black than red. Simple swap of stripe color, much better.
Yancy K. Yeater
We close today with Marcin Niedzielski who has some concepts for the Rockets:
Going to keep this short and sweet. Hate the current Rockets set, love everything about their older look. With the current set also reminding me too much of Yao and McGrady, figured the new age with Harden deserved their own set. Asides from the jerseys, I took the old logo and touched it up – adding a slight cone to the left side of the logo to give the look of a rocket and also added some flames to also give the feel of a rocket launching.
And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.
Because we love the stirrup here at Uni Watch, this section is devoted to those of us who sport the beautiful hose on Fridays — a trend popularized many years ago by Robert P. Marshall, III. For many of us, it’s become a bit of an obsession, but a harmless one — a reflection of our times. Where we once had Friday ties, which has been replaced by Casual Friday — we now have Stirrup Fridays. It’s an endearingly simple concept — no matter where you work (or even if you don’t) — break out a fresh pair of rups to compliment (or clash with) your Friday attire.
Another small set today, as we begin the transition from winter to baseball/softball season. Just three humble members of the revo today … Here we go:
Love the stripes. As a diehard Cards fan, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. ;-)
Today’s stirrup us the latest arrival from Commrade Robert. I really love the color combo of the cardinal, cream, and black. I just need to find cardinal and cream socks to wear with them.
Jason Bernard (and Fudge):
Phil & Robert,
These work for a ton of teams, but today they are in support of the Iona College Gaels, just to piss off Comrade Marshall.
I’m not sure if you’re the person to send this to, but what the hell. While it isn’t the NCAA tournament game many hoped for, I’m wearing my Iowa Hawkeye, nee Boston Bruins, stirrups at their NIT 2nd round matchup against Stony Brook.
Go Hawks and Go Big Ten!
Iowa City, IA
And that ends today’s look at Stirrup Friday — all of you who participate, send me your pics and a brief (~50 words) description of their relevance, and I’ll run ’em here on Saturday (and sometimes Sunday too!). Be sure to visit Robert’s House of Hose for news on rups.
And now…here’s …
Comrade Marshall’s Rupdate:
Nothing “new” this week, just the Ã la carte stock, but there are more re-issues on the way. We will also start up with more photo contests the weekend after the holiest of holy days, baseball’s opening day, two weeks from now.
The biggest news this week is if you want something by opening day, you must order by noon Monday(3-25) so your envelope will be in my Monday post office trip. I will be visiting Gotham from 3-26 to 4-1, so it will be impossible for me to mail anything during that time. Please keep this in mind as I hate disappointing good hosiery revolutionaries as they ready for the start of the season. Feel free to contact me with any stirrups questions.
From each according their stirrvp, to each according their strype.
And that will do it for this fine first Saturday of Spring. Big thanks to Jake for sharing those concepts with us — make sure you leave him some feedback in the comments below.
On an unrelated note, I’m getting my ass kicked in my NCAA Hoops bracket. But, I don’t think too many of us would have picked Harvard and Florida Gulf Coast either — so maybe things will all even out in the end. If nothing else, my early losses shouldn’t hurt me too badly. How are all y’all doing in your UW pool?
Everyone have a great Saturday, and I’ll catch you on the morrow.
“Seems a lot of us spent our youths creating fake teams for make believe leagues.”