Designing Minds, Volume III

Josh Hed 550

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.

If the above splash photos look familiar to you, they should — each of those has been featured in the normal “Concepts” section over the past several months, including one just last weekend. Unlike most concepts, which are computer generated, these are obviously hand-drawn, and more “art” than concept, although as concepts they are certainly top notch. Those were all submitted by today’s featured artist, Josh Escobar, who has two brand new concepts to show off today. I spoke to Josh about the prior three and also about the two you’re about to see today, as we get to meet the artist. So without further ado, let’s meet Josh and check out his old and new works:

. . .

Uni Watch: Hey Josh. Let’s hit the basics: How old are you, where are from, and do you have any special training, or did you major in arts or graphic design?

Josh Escobar: I’m from San Francisco, I’m 27 years old with no professional training in art. I took art in high school but that was more about painting and sculptures. I was never good at either of those. I started drawing at a very young age as a hobby. As I grew my talent got better but I was never a person to boast of what I was able to do. I stayed humble even though my peers thought I was gifted. Also being left handed I used to think I was weird (laughs).

UW: Oh, lefty, eh? So your brain is a little “off.” Just kidding. Anyway, how long have you been reading/following Uni Watch?

JE: I been reading Uni Watch for 2 years now. I stumbled on it one day and I been a fan ever since.

UW: Yeah, I think that’s how a lot of us found it. Have you always been a uni fan, and from the looks of your drawings, I assume you like the older uniforms and history?

JE: I’ve always been a fan of uniforms of all types, especially football. I’m a big fan of history, and throwbacks are one of the best things about football history because of its look into the past. My dream was to work for the NFL. The thing that gets me about fans and throwbacks is that most have a negative reaction to when a team wears one. Eagles, Steelers and Broncos throwbacks all were hated on for being ugly. Yeah, I kind of agree, but people gotta understand that these are uniforms that were worn before fashion was a big thing in sports. Plus they only wear them once or twice. This is why I love this site because it talks about uniforms and lets the fans give their opinions on ’em.

UW: Unlike most concepters, you actually draw (and quite well) yours. Do you do these in pen or pencil? And, I love how you choose your “motion” shots.

JE: I choose to draw my concepts because I love drawing and I love showing players in movement rather than standing in a plain pose. I feel it gives the feel of how you might see it on a magazine or tv screen. Plus, drawing with pencil gives me more control then doing it digitally (no dis to the people who do because they’re also amazing). I only use pencil for the outline and color pencils for the colors.

UW: Take me through your thought process for each drawing, and then maybe you can go into a bit more detail about the three that have already been featured on here, and then the two new ones.

JE: My thought process that goes into my concepts starts with a team and a uniform that catches my eye that I would love to see. I’m a Niners fan, but I’m a bigger football fan, so drawing other teams doesn’t bother me. First I chose a uniform that I like, then chose two players from the current team to show what they would look in them. People might wonder why I don’t color in the player; that’s because I want to highlight the uniform and not so much the player as a mannequin would do in a retail store. Secondly, I take the uniform from the past and try to apply it to a modern template but still try to keep the key elements of the uniform. I know the NFL does the same but I feel sometimes they kinda miss it at times.

UW: Sweet. OK, lets revisit your early “works.” I’ll put a picture on the screen (click to enlarge) and then you can describe it, OK? We’ll start with the 1932 Giants (which is similar to this). That was the first one you sent me — was it the first one you did? By the way, it’s freakin’ awesome:

1932 Giants - Josh Escobar

JE: I did the Giants uni first. This was a fun uni to design because it looks great and the helmet is something I have never seen done. Usually the NFL will just put a modern team helmet on instead or a helmet with no decals. I wanted to keep it original all the way. FYI I’m a big fan of the faux leather helmet the Redskins used and they should use it for any throwback that used a leather helmet at the time.

UW: I think you did the Washington football team one better. OK, next was, I think, the “Buffalo Bisons”? They really were an NFL team, yes? Later they were reincarnated in the old AAFC.

Buffalo Bison - Josh Escobar

JE: My second was the Buffalo Bisons which was a team of the very old NFL. The reason I chose to do this one is because I love the horns on the helmet and the socks they wore.

UW: Also very cool. And the final one you sent me that was on Uni Watch (and ran last weekend) was the 1960 Raiders.

Josh Escobar - 1960 Raiders throwback

JE: Third was the Raiders, I felt this should of been done by the NFL during the 50th anniversary of the AFL, but they didn’t.

UW: Yeah, well, we can blame the late Al Davis for that. He didn’t own the team in 1960, so I’m sure as far as he was concerned, that year wasn’t part of the Raiders history. OK. Now, let’s take a look at your two new ones. First up is the “1995 Baltimore Bombers.” I’m guessing the Ravens would wear this one? Tell me about this drawing.

1955 Baltimore Bombers - Josh Escobar

JE: My fourth drawing was different in a sense that it’s not only a throwback, it’s also a concept. The Baltimore Bombers was the team name before the Ravens came into town. When designing this, I thought to myself that the Ravens don’t have much of a uniform history other than minor things like helmet decal, shoulder logo and pants. So, why not do something different? It would be so cool to see what might have been. In a way, give credit to the people who worked hard to come up with those designs that never saw the field. Maybe the 49ers should give the “one day helmet” its “one day” or the Saints its black helmet.

UW: Wow. It would be fun to see that uniform make one appearance. Be interesting if that’s even something the Ravens could “legally” do. Great concept, though. OK. Let’s get to your final concept — the “Batman” uniform of the 1967 Pittsburgh Steelers. I, for one, would LOVE for this one to hit the field.

1967 Pittsburgh Steelers - Josh Escobar

JE: My final drawing is the Steelers in their 1967 throwback. I like this one because it’s simple but tough looking. I loved the bumblebee unis, but these seem more of a fit. I love the yellow on the shoulders and the block numbers (not a fan of the round italic numbers). I put a gray facemask on as well because I love the look of it and it’s what they wore that season too.

UW: Dude, those are awesome. I’m hoping you will have more for us?

JE: I will eventually try to send in more drawings in the future. I love the reactions of the people. Uni-watch has become my favorite website.

UW: Mine too. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with the readership. This was great. Any last words?

JE: Keep up the good work on updates with uniforms. Because, if uniforms were just black and white, we wouldn’t know what team we’re cheering for.

UW: Indeed.

. . .

Well, there you have it. Big thanks (and three cheers) to Josh for taking the time to share, and readers — how great are those concepts AND artistic skills? Not bad for a left-handed 49ers fan who loves striped socks. Make sure to compliment Josh below in the comments, as I’m sure he’d love your feedback.

Green Line

Got Vilk Anim - 225 pxJim Got Game…

It’s been two weeks since we heard from Jim “Mr. 5 & 1” Vilk, and two weeks ago I promised you he’d emerge from the Vilkabunker to surface with an actual “5 & 1” for the College Hoops Tourney. Not familiar with the 5 & 1? Well, Jim used to be the NCAA football 5 & 1 guy way back when Ricko was still posting here, but he “retired” after one game last season, turning over the reins to Catherine Ryan — but if you want to understand where he’s coming from, here’s a guide to “Being Jim Mothervilker”. Now, with that out of the way, here’s Jim, back (at least for now) with the long-awaited NCAA Hoop Tourney 5 & 1:

. . .

Hoops 5&1
By Jim Vilk

Lots of games in this tournament, but only five (OK, seven) could have a shining moment on this list.

Honorable Mention to Florida Gulf Coast / Georgetown — The Eagles couldn’t keep their coach, but they’d better keep those colors.

And to Davidson / Marquette — Too bad both uniforms couldn’t have made it past the (I’m still calling it the) first round.

5. Oregon / Oklahoma State — I’ll let the BFBS trim slide, since the Ducks still look fine.

4. North Carolina / Kansas — A classic matchup in more ways than one.

3. Syracuse / Marquette — Lego striping + Duplo striping = just a *little* too much of a good thing.

2. Albany / Duke — My two favorite templates this year complement each other well.

1. Syracuse / Michigan — Phil called it last week…and I picked it anyway.

And the bad one: LIU Brooklyn / James Madison — LIU’s font is as annoying as a popup ad.

OK, back to retirement. Take care, everyone!

. . .

Thanks Jim. I can’t believe you actually picked the color palette special of ‘Cuse/UM, when you could have taken your #3 (with Marquette) as the top dog. But I shan’t complain, because that was a good looking game. Rest up, Jim. College football season is only a scant 4ish months away. I think it’s safe to say, we missed ya and need ya back.

Green Line

Stirrup FridayStirrup Fridays…

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.

Surprisingly little Friday ruppage this week, but a whole bunch of action shots (which we love). Not too much news on the Revolutionary front, but there will be a word or two from Comrade Marshall after the showings. But first, this weeks ruppage:

. . . . .

As - Al Gruwell

Al Gruwell:


Wore these to the Athletics-Astros series. Got a lot of love. Thanks, Comrade Marshall.

Al Gruwell

. . .

Rick Porter - Pirates

Rick Porter:

Phil & Comrade Marshall,
In honor of Stirrup Friday..

Lets go Pens! Lets go Bucs!

Rick Porter

. . .

Patrick Costello - Rays

Patrick Costello:


A picture of me pitching rocking my 2010 Rays Stirrups.

-Pat Costello

. . .

Wobblies - Joe Owen

Joe Owen:


Wearing the Wobblies ‘rups for softball this year.

-Joe Owen

. . .

Clint Richardson - "Auburn"

Clint Richardson:


Not a Friday, but I did wear my stirrups both Tuesday and Wednesday night to the Auburn softball and baseball games, respectively. Broke out these orange sanis for the baseball game, and they looked great. Really good combo with my 2005 Tigers jersey as well!

War Eagle!

Clint Richardson

. . .

Giants - Greg Brown

Greg Brown:

Phil & Robert,

Robert — Just a quick note to thank you again for the socks. Our son wore them in his opening game last night. Here is an action photo I thought you might enjoy.

He wears “21” to honor his sister. Our daughter has Down syndrome – Trisomy 21.

– Greg Brown ”“

. . .

James Poisso - "Bumblebees"

James Poisso:


This Friday’s stirrups are what my almost 6yr old daughter call “bumblebee stirrups”.

James Poisso

. . .

Jason Bernard - Pirates

Jason Bernard:


Ode to a doofus.


. . .

Robert Marshall - Globetrotters

Tom Jones:


Tom Jones really likes the Globetrotters, and doesn’t find Bernard very funny at all.

Comrade Jones

. . .

Ben Traxel - Issues

Ben Traxel:


My wife says I have a problem. I wonder what she’ll say when she figures out where her paycheck went.


. . .

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 …


Stirrup HeaderComrade Marshall’s Rupdate:

Comrades, no new business this week, just the usual stock. I will try to have something new for next week.

Congratulations to Al Gruwell, this weeks Stirrup Friday winner. get in touch with me so I can send you along a complimentary pair.

from each according their stirrvp, to each according their strype.

Green Line

That’s just about it for today — in fact, for the next several weeks, the weekend posts are likely going to be shorter (yay!?) than my usual fare; that’s due to several reasons, but the primary reason is I’m going to be very busy with some personal things. In fact, it’s possible that some posts may consist entirely of tweaks and/or one smallish lede.

On another (but related) note — today, the UNC Tarheels will be unveiling new unis (and playing their spring football game) — I’m not sure if they’re going to be unveiling only football, or if they’re joining the new trend of rebranding the entire university sports teams. If anyone can send me some photos/screenshots/links from the unveiling, of if you have interest in helping me with a writeup on those same uniforms, drop me a line. OK? OK.

The UW Fantasy Football Contest deadline is Monday. Probably have a little bit more on that tomorrow.

Everyone enjoy your slate of Saturday sports, including the Masters, and I will catch you guys tomorrow. Today’s “One For The Road” comes from reader Scott Robbins, who writes, “Hey guys, long-time reader and a loyal Michigan fan. I actually publish “THE BLOCKHAMS,” ( the web’s only online comic strip devoted to the culture and fan base of Michigan sports. And, perhaps, the only strip written just for one specific sports team in general. I’ve done a few uni-related strips, and did so again today. Every Friday I do a single-panel piece for my Twitter followers, and today’s strip directly addresses the idea of QB’S Devin Gardner taking the field in Beaver Orange, as it were.” Thanks Scott!


Green Line

One For The Road

.. … ..

“The reasoning that’s trotted out is that Cleveland wanted to honor Louis Sockalexis, the first Indian player in the Majors. Which is sort of like Detroit ‘honoring’ Hank Greenberg with a cartoon large-nosed Hassid.”

56 comments to Designing Minds, Volume III

  • BurghFan | April 13, 2013 at 7:12 am |

    If anyone’s going to the NCAA Hockey Final tonight, there was a collection of many (all?) Division One sweaters hanging over the Centre Avenue entrance Thursday, and I assume it will still be there.

  • The Jeff | April 13, 2013 at 7:30 am |

    Uhh…. shouldn’t that be 1995 for the Baltimore Bombers?

    • Phil Hecken | April 13, 2013 at 7:50 am |

      Duh. Yes.

      Now fixed.

  • Bernard | April 13, 2013 at 7:35 am |

    Are you listening to me, Nike? This Steelers “Batman” throwback needs to happen IMMEDIATELY. Good lord, it’s beautiful.

    Great work, Josh.

    • The Jeff | April 13, 2013 at 7:40 am |

      Agreed, but keep the current helmet. There’s no need for that damn gray mask.

    • walter | April 13, 2013 at 11:28 am |

      Don’t ask me where I saw this, but I could swear the white jerseys for the Steelers during this period had the TV numbers inside big yellow diamonds on the sleeves. Does anyone else remember this? But I don’t blame Josh for wanting to be consistent. Wow. Great stuff from Mr. Escobar! Stuff like that makes me try to raise my game.

      • The Jeff | April 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm |

        The yellow diamond sleeves were a couple seasons before the batman jerseys.

    • James A | April 13, 2013 at 4:08 pm |

      I’ve run into so many Stillers fans that detest the Batman uniform. I’m not sure why. I would love to see them trot that out. It looks a hell of a lot better than the bumblebee uniform.

      • ChrisH | April 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm |

        The Steelers of the Batman era were pretty terrible; that may explain why those uni’s are not fondly remembered by the older fanbase.

        Excellent artwork, Josh!

  • DanD | April 13, 2013 at 8:42 am |

    I loved the Steelers “Batman” jerseys. However, the team picture showed was the 1966 version. In ’67, the numbers were smaller and more blocked.

  • Coleman | April 13, 2013 at 9:20 am |

    Damn, Josh is really setting the bar with these hand-drawn concepts. Thanks a lot man… Only kidding of course. That is some beautiful work!

  • Ryan | April 13, 2013 at 9:53 am |

    On the March Madness 5 & 1, Duke’s got a nice template, but I abhor the fact that they use black.

    On a related note, I’m glad Louisville was the #1 overall seed, as it guaranteed we’d never see their pink Fruit Stripe unis.

    • Jim Vilk | April 13, 2013 at 10:50 am |

      Yeah, Duke doesn’t need to be using black at all, but since it was only a trim color (and Albany looked soooo good), I treated them like Oregon and let it slide.

      • rpm | April 13, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

        it’s a dran good list motherviker.

  • Zach | April 13, 2013 at 10:05 am |

    the blockhams should post this cartoon. sums up the majority of michigans fan base

    • The Jeff | April 13, 2013 at 10:09 am |

      I think that sums up the majority of EVERY major college’s fan base.

      • Zach | April 13, 2013 at 11:01 am |

        NO. Walmart wolverines are a plague in Michigan. It doesn’t even compare to any other college.

        • rpm | April 13, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

          wrong, it is virtually every fan base of a big school without question. jeff is absolutely 100% correct here.

      • ThePonchat | April 13, 2013 at 3:27 pm |

        I’m with The Jeff on this one.

        Count me as a fan of no major school…I have no connection to them. No reason to support them.

        And many fan bases are annoying because the majority have no connection with them.

    • BDANNER | April 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

      Definitely describes North Carolina TarHeel fan base as well.

      • Tar Heel Yoda | April 13, 2013 at 11:39 pm |

        In the state if you live, every right you have your team to support. The team that this applies Dook is.

  • Jason C | April 13, 2013 at 10:58 am |

    UNC just posted a photo from a twitter page of the new football uniforms on display at the spring game today. As a young Carolina fan, I am extremely disappointed. They’re like a bad arena football team type uniform. Total downgrade

    • Rich A. | April 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

      absolutely. I believe that’s all black on them. some say its a navy, well then thats a DARK navy. the “alternate” uniform they are unveiling at halftime is just BFBS.

    • Tenz | April 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

      Too bad. UNC had one of the best uniforms in college football, in my opinion, with the emphasis on HAD.

    • Douglas King | April 13, 2013 at 3:59 pm |

      Its Navy, though one of the helmets is accented in Black instead of Navy, presumably so they could wear a Carolina blue helmet with the BFBS if they so choose. The tidbit on the black accented helmet is from the assistant equipment manager (the guy who Jason C linked to).

      Here’s a closer look at 3 of the uniforms

      • Tar Heel Yoda | April 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

        Navy it is not. Connection to the Tar Pit they are emphasizing. Gone the “Carolina Deep Blue” is.

    • BDANNER | April 13, 2013 at 4:02 pm |

      Could’ve been much worse.

      • Tar Heel Yoda | April 13, 2013 at 11:46 pm |

        Worse, yes, it could be. Trying this Dook and State (any many others) failed. Be not lured to the dark side by Count Ducko, of Oregon he is.

  • Connie DC | April 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

    First of all, Josh Escobar is terrific and Vilck can see terrific from where he’s standing. Second, kinda interesting that the two finalists in NCAA hockey – Yale & Quinnipiac – are obscure little Connecticut schools just a few miles from each other.

  • Emma | April 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm |

    I never comment but am compelled to say Joshs’ designs are amazing! That batman throwback has to happen

  • Tenz | April 13, 2013 at 2:27 pm |

    Great work, Josh. Colored pencils are my preferred medium as well (though I’m certainly not in your league artistically), so I have some appreciation for the skill and work it takes to achieve these kind of results.

    They’re all great, and the “Batman” Steelers are especially brilliant — it’s hard to believe we won’t see this design on the field within a few years.

    And gray face masks forever — I myself have no use for any other color. Of course, I formed my tastes almost 50 years ago.

  • Douglas King | April 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

    Ole Miss tweaked their uniforms, identical, except in color to LSU’s Peachbowl Jerseys, though Ole Miss screwed with their pants, I like the addition of a blue option but prefer the 3 stripe look to to the TNOL (team name on leg).

    • Douglas King | April 13, 2013 at 4:01 pm |

      Just noticed that they added a Navy accented version of their away jersey.

  • James A | April 13, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

    Not uni-related, but a very good piece in The Atlantic on Jackie Robinson and what the new movie neglects (As well as the previous Jackie Robinson films). A long read, but a good one.

  • Samuel | April 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm |

    Chris Young of the A’s wearing stirrups with gold sannies. He wore them with white sannies during road trip. But the bummer is that they aren’t really stirrups, as reported by A’s beat writer

  • Komet17 | April 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm |

    OK, seriously: Does ANYBODY know what’s become of Ricko? I mean, could he be ill or worse? Has anyone who has his contact information checked in on him?

    • Phil Hecken | April 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm |

      Heard from him last night and today. Very brief e-mail about the Twins/Mets, our pets (his has passed, mine is close) and general states of mental health.

      So, yeah, he’s OK. And let’s leave it at that.

      • Komet17 | April 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm |

        OK, thanks.

  • Mark K | April 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm |

    Love the Vilk.

  • Mark in Shiga | April 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm |

    I absolutely love that rounded number 3 on the 1960s Raiders’ black jerseys. It’s perfect.

    • Brett Gaul | April 14, 2013 at 6:38 pm |

      Mark, I was thinking the same thing.

  • Wheels | April 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

    Today’s Mets-Twins game was a matchup of probably the two best sets of uniforms in baseball: the Twins’ home cream alts, and the Mets’ road grays.

    • Phil Hecken | April 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm |


      I don’t know if the Twins home creams are the best, but they are certainly Top 3, and (I’m probably a bit biased), but the Mets roads, with the royal caps/sleeves/socks, is absolutely gorgeous — one of the reasons why I’m SOOOO opposed to their introducing that stupid alt road top.

      If this were a 5 & 1, Jim Vilk would have to give this the 1 “good” matchup.

      • Wheels | April 13, 2013 at 7:42 pm |

        I’d also put the Tigers’ home whites in the discussion. And with the Mets’ alt road tops, I just think they’re good looking- for a softball top. They are completely unnecessary though.

  • Clint | April 13, 2013 at 7:36 pm |

    I love Clint’s orange and blue stirrups and sani! Oh wait, that’s me!

  • Johnny O | April 13, 2013 at 10:09 pm |

    Tampa Bay Rays have new Letterman jackets. Not as cool as their originals… but still cool:

    • Ben D. | April 13, 2013 at 10:50 pm |

      I must have one of those.

  • rod baker | April 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm |

    Hey Josh I think NIKE should hire you onto their staff. You have an excellent eye for details and styles. Even if it’s only to design throwbacks. I believe you would do a ” Lights Out” job for them. And also thanks for igniting my light to start back drawing again:)

  • rod baker | April 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

    Hey Josh. Also how would you update an Atlanta Falcons uniform? My email address is roderickb72@yahoo.comThanks.

  • Brett Gaul | April 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

    Excellent work Josh. It took me back to when I was a little kid drawing players from my card collection. The Raiders piece was especially cool. Keep up the great work. I may have to bust my colored pencils back out.