By Phil Hecken
Last weekend, I ran an article which was chock full of photos and short writups by Dan Kennedy, the reader who won the Grand Rapids Griffins design contest back in August of last year. If you’re not familiar with any of that, please click on the link above. Because Dan was at the game late, he only had a chance to send me the photos he’d taken with some short descriptions. I had wanted to follow up with Dan, and today…I have.
I spoke with Dan this week and he was kind enough to let me into his kitchen, so to speak on his design, the process and a few personal bits as well. Here we go:
Uni Watch: Hey Dan — thanks for the interview — did you have any other photos from the game?
Dan Kennedy: I know that the Griffins posted a couple dozen in-game shots to their Flickr account which are a lot better quality than my phone shots and you can see a lot better detail of the unis in action.
UW: Great. OK How old are you and where do you live?
DK: I’m 37 years old and live in Brighton, Michigan (20 minutes north of Ann Arbor).
UW: How long have you been reading Uni Watch? How did you “find” Uni Watch (from Paul’s ESPN column, been reading for years, via twitter, friend, etc?)
DK: I’ve been reading the blog and following Uni Watch on Twitter for close to 8 years now. My brother, Mike, originally introduced me to Uni Watch as he’s really into the history of sports and enjoys looking at and reading about old uniforms.
UW: Have you ever entered a design contest before (Uni Watch or otherwise)?
DK: Yes, the USA Today ran a national contest to design a mascot for the 1988 Summer Olympics. I was 9 years old at the time and happened to be in a summer art camp where that was one of the projects. The instructor submitted the class’s designs to the contest and mine ended up being one of the winning designs featured in the newspaper. I remember it was a frilled lizard (has a big ruffled collar around its neck) wearing Olympic-inspired Zubaz cap and shirt. Haha…only something a 9 year-old in the 80’s could dream up.
UW: That’s um, interesting. Maybe we can pursue that one at another time. Do you have pics/links to any of your other designs?
UW: Awesome. I may have to pursue those further another time as well. OK, What was your thought process for the Griffins’ design? Did you use solely the parameters provided in the UW entry from 8/1?
DK: Yes, I pretty much stuck to what was asked for/recommended in the official rules of the contest. I put a lot of time into the design, so the last thing I wanted to do was go outside the lines too far and have my design rejected or disregarded.
UW: How did you come up with the design you ultimately chose? Did you have several other versions that “didn’t make the cut”?
DK: When I decided I was going to be a part of the contest, I sat down and started sketching ideas. This is always the first part of my process for these type of contests. My mind usually is flooded with ideas and getting them out quickly on paper is a great way to prove what will work and what won’t. I had a couple other directions that I was considering, but felt they were too expected and, ultimately, went with something that was more unique. Prior to sketching, I did a little research into past winners of this contest and wanted to make sure I came up with a solution that was different and fresh.
UW: What did you think of the contest rules/voting, etc?
DK: I thought the rules were fair. The voting got a little confusing when there were so many submissions that voting blocks/groups had to be formed. I was concerned that if you happened to be in an earlier voting group that you would have more time to be voted on, thus providing an unfair advantage. However, after reading the fine print, I was relieved that only votes during a certain period of time for each group would count despite polls still being open and votes still being cast. Most of the designs that got strong vote totals were the strongest designs (with the exception of a few) in my opinion. The cream always rises to the top.
UW: Once the Griffins selected you as their winner, what happened next?
DK: I honestly did a double-take because I really had no idea what the Griffins organization was looking for. If it were a typical Uni Watch contest, I usually have a sense of what catches Paul’s eye knowing his sensibility from reading his thoughts over the years. However, in this case, there were some other strong finalists and it was a matter which direction the Griffins wanted to go. It felt kind of surreal when I won because I knew that my design would actually be put into production and worn in a real game, which is something I’d dreamed of since I was a kid. After being announced as the winner, I received an email from their Digital Marketing Director congratulating me and asking for the files of the artwork I’d created so they could use those in creating the jerseys.
UW: Did they work with you closely to bring the jersey to fruition? Did they suggest or make changes? Did you have any additional input other than the original design?
DK: No, I took a little extra time to clean up my files for production and then handed them off and never heard anything again from them. It’s obvious that they made some slight tweaks based on manufacturing requirements, but the final product was pretty close to what I had mocked up. I remember being concerned that I didn’t provide artwork for the numbering that I suggested in my mockup and they never reached out regarding it. I was nervous they’d use numbering that didn’t go with the feel of the design, but I was pleasantly surprised that they made a choice very similar to what I had suggested. They also carried the stripe pattern on the sleeves to the socks which I wasn’t expecting either and that was a very nice touch.
[Here’s Dan’s original contest design submission, followed by the jersey the Griffins ended up wearing — you can click any photos to enlarge — PH]
UW: Aside from receiving a custom jersey, what else did you receive — just tickets to the game or did they give you a tour? Did you get to meet any of the executives or players prior to the game?
DK: They gave me tickets for my family, my brother and his family who live just outside of Grand Rapids, and my parents who’d never been to a hockey game before. They accommodated our whole group and it was really nice of them to do that. Upon arriving to the game an hour early, they gave us a backstage tour and then took us down to the ice before pregame warmups and presented me with my own personalized jersey. Their team photographer took some pictures of me with it which they tweeted out and featured on the Jumbotron during the game. We weren’t allowed in the locker room, so I didn’t get to meet any of the players. That would’ve been fun to get their reaction about the jerseys since they’re the ones who actually wear them. Although, they did give us a free pass to their high-five alley in the tunnel where where the starters go onto the ice when being announced. It was a lot of fun to be that close to the action, especially for my kids and my nephew and niece.
UW: You told me you (or your wife) drove to the game. How long was the trip?
DK: The trip was two hours. We went to my brother’s house for the afternoon to visit and hang out prior to the game. Then we all ate an early dinner and went down to the game together. The weather was unbelievable that day as it hit nearly 60 degrees and the sun was shining. That’s unheard of in Michigan in the middle of January. It was a great little day trip.
UW: What happened when you arrived?
DK: I was asked to enter the arena at the media entrance where Marissa, the Griffins Digital Marketing Manager, met up with me. She then proceeded to give us the behind the scenes tour and presented my with my personalized jersey.
UW: Where did you sit for the game?
DK: We sat about halfway up in one of the corners of the lower section. They were pretty good seats and had no problems following the action.
UW: Did the Griffins win?
DK: Yes! They smoked the Cleveland Monsters 5-0 and it was their goalie’s first ever shutout.
UW: What did you think of the experience?
DK: It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m really grateful to have had a chance to see a design I dreamed up in my head get so much support and come to life on a real stage in front of me. I had random people approaching me asking about the jersey I was wearing and it was awesome to tell them that I designed it. I got a lot of positive feedback and high-fives/handshakes that night. My niece caught a puck that flew over the glass and got to keep it. My family and I got on the Jumbotron a few times during the course of the game thanks to a lot of crazy dancing from the kids. The cherry on top was that their post-game auction for the player-worn jerseys had one of the largest turnouts ever and raised over $20,000 for the Griffins Youth Foundation. It was the full experience and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.
UW: Thanks, Dan. I will definitely want to follow up with you on a bunch of things. Glad it was a great experience for you!
There you have it. As you can see, Dan’s got a lot of talent and a good eye for design. I’ll definitely be back with him at some point down the road for a look into more of his concepts. Hope you guys enjoyed (vicariously) his experience. I know I did.
ATTENTION NY AREA READERS!
If you live in or around New York City and you’re a Mets fan (or even if you’re not), today is the annual Queens Baseball Convention, a “mid-winter gathering of fans of baseball, held in Queens. (Their) design is a combination of ‘Fan Fest’ meets ‘Comic Con’. The spirit of the day is for the fans to get together, celebrate baseball in Queens, and to bring the kiddies and bring the wife.”
As he has in year’s past, Paul will be hosting the “Uniform Panel,” which includes myself as well as power hitters uni and logo designer-extraordinaire Todd Radom, Mets numbers’ guru Jon Springer, Mets stitcher Russ Gompers and Mets uni collector Nick DiSalvo. This is basically the entire panel that made up the contingent the last time the QBC was held (in 2015 — the 2016 event was snowed out). Here’s a look back at the 2015 Uni Panel:
If you’re interested, c’mon down — the Uni Panel runs from 2:00 to 3:00 pm, but there are activities taking place throughout the day (the event runs 11:30 am to 6:00 pm). The Convention is being held at Katch Brew & Grill in Astoria, Queens. The full list of details as well as ticketing, and more, can be found here.
Hope to see some of you readers today!
Uni Watch News Ticker
Baseball News: Following the untimely passing of Yordano “Ace” Ventura, who was killed in a car crash on January 22, the Royals have announced they will honor him by wearing a jersey patch for the 2017 season. … This is how the patch will look on the unis (from Alex Giobbi). … Here’s a cool video featuring a “day in the life” of the Clubhouse Manager for the Altoona Curve (from Sole Rubbers). … We’re still seeing a number of new New Era caps being produced with the “glued on” (heat pressed) NE logo, but it looks like the KC Royals gold lettered cap has the patch sewn on, for all you fans out there who have to own one (from Mike Vamosi). … “1997 MLB AllStar Game in Cleveland. Only the Alomar brothers wearing a black ribbon on left chest,” writes David Hamen. It turns out this was a tribute to their grandmother (nice find by canÃ˜k). … The Padres will have some interesting giveaways this year, including a rather sharp trilby (h/t Robert Hayes). You can read more about that here. … Holy shit the Yankees spring training caps are awful (h/t Todd Pratt). I think it may because IF you’re going to put pinstripes on your cap, you need to put them on your cap’s CROWN not the brim (or do do something like this). Even full pinstripes might be better, although on second thought…. … Looks like throwback uniforms for the Armstrong Pirates (via Paul). … I’m not sure if we’ve seen this before or not: the new Nike College jersey tops appear to be button fronts but are actually pullovers. Some versions are hard to see, even up close but others are easily discernable full placket (looking). But you can’t tell it’s not a button-front unless you’re close up. … Nice photo here of the 1980 American League All Stars with lots of colorful road unis (from Bruce Menard). … Reader Tommy Turner brings to our attention a book that may be of interest to many of us: Game Worn: Baseball Treasures from the Game’s Greatest Heroes and Moments. Looks like it’s been on the shelves for a few months. Anyone read it? If so, thoughts?
NFL/Arena News: As you may be aware, the Baltimore Brigade are a new Arena Football League team. “I first thought the players had matching spat around their ankles, but after another look its actually a sleeve,” writes Rick Friedel “Looks to be part of the uniform. I don’t follow AFL so not sure if this is a league thing or a team thing.” … Here’s your first look at the Atlanta Falcons jerseys with the Super Bowl LI Patch. … And, here’s how it looks on the Patriots’ white jerseys (from Lord Fontleroy). … Here’s a look at the field and the end zones, which have now been painted in, for Super Bowl LI (from J.S.). … Did you know the Baltimore Ravens were STANLEY CUP Champions in 2000 and 2012? Yeah, neither did I (nice spot by LH Griffel). … Most of the fake helmet designs for the “LA Chargers” in this set suck, but there are a couple good ones.
College Football News: Are the Utah Utes getting new uniforms. This tweet seems to imply this (and I agree with the concepter that a “Utah strip” would look very good on those unis). … Someone has gone to the trouble of mocking up an FSU “iced out” helmet that in the words of submitter Christy is “hideous”.
Hockey News: I’m sure this has been brought up before, but the Sabres white jerseys, with their gray underarm patch, sure do make it look like the players have pit stains (from Gavin Lane). … The NHL All Star Game is tomorrow (and will likely be more watchable than the Pro Bowl). And there have been some good and some not so good unis over the years. … St. Michael’s Purple Knights will be wearing Mental Health Awareness Game jerseys today (via Paul). … Interesting look at a Columbus Blue Jackets third jersey concept (from Fifth Liner). … The prize of major junior hockey supremacy, the Memorial Cup, will be presented for the 100th time in 2018. Here is the logo for the 100th Memorial Cup Celebration (from Wade Heidt). … When mascots go rogue: “Goldy is wearing a sweater with a white shoulder yolk,” says Tony Tengwall. “Never seen that lion before.” … Patrick Thomas says, “that would be the Gophers women’s old roads.” … Gerry Muir recently made an NHL Shop purchase: a Reebok tee shirt with Adidas tags from NHL.com.
NBA News: Here is an absolutely outstanding image (yeah, it’s an ad, but a great one) of the 1967 Philadelphia 76ers (and it’s signed too). From Bruce Menard. Also from Bruce, a look at Wilt Chamberlain’s World Championhip Ring from those same 1967 Philadelphia 76ers. … WHOA — Check out this Brian Scalbrine jacket. Yeah he’s wearing that (h/t Mike Chamernik). … Tweeter Terry Lee notes that (likely soon to be traded) Carmelo Anthony was “trying his hardest to piss off every New Yorker before he gets traded.”
College/High School Hoops News: Check out this photograph of the 1938 Donora High School Basketball Team, which includes future Baseball Hall of Fame legend Stan Musial (No.16) — from Bruce Menard. … To show honor & celebrate all of those who have/are fighting cancer, Virginia Tech will wear their pink unis/shoes on Sunday in their @CoachesvsCancer game (via Clark Ruhland). … Rick Pitino, who now coaches the University of Louisville, once made his Kentucky Wildcats players wear red practice uniforms. The former Kentucky head coach made the team “wear red practice uniforms for a week because he felt they were ‘playing like Louisville’.” … The OSU Cowboys will wear special Remember the 10 jerseys & shooting shirts today against Arkansas. Oklahoma State first introduced these uniforms last year for the 15th anniversary of the horrific plane crash that claimed 10 lives associated with the men’s basketball program. … The Hope College basketball teams will be donning purple unis this weekend. “I guess it is okay because it is for a good cause,” adds Jonathan Cain. More info here: Purple Community Basketball Doubleheader To Benefit Van Andel Institute. … Looks like the Texas Christian Horned Frogs will have some new throwbacks (from Ivor van Esch). … Last night Oakland wore nice gold throwbacks (from Mike Cole). … Oakland played Green Bay and it made for a beautiful green vs. gold matchup (from Chris Dickson II).
Soccer News: Former U.S.A. Soccer player (and former World Cupper Alexi Lalas) “Opened up a box of 100+ jerseys I’ve accumulated over the years. Some still have original tags…some still have original sweat.” Submitter Kevin Brewer thinks that’s “quite a haul.” Looks like one of those jerseys is this ‘famous’ one.
Grab Bag: From reader Will Scheibler comes this nugget: “In Winnipeg, combining the game of crokinole and curling with crokicurl.” … Check out these cool new spacesuits from Boeing (that comes from Marc Swanson). … Sweden would like to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. … If you haven’t heard enough (or can’t hear too much) or haven’t taken a side on the “do ads belong on unis” debate, you might want to listen to this podcast. … “I really enjoyed (Paul’s) note about Mary Tyler Moore’s Vikings jersey in the credits of the Mary Tyler Moore show,” says Justin Huyck. “I thought you might be interested in this episode, where she wears a white Vikings sweatshirt at 19:35 and the minutes that follow.” … Here’s a look at some of the 2017 NASCAR driver suits. … Skechers is not going down without a fight in the patent infringement suit that Nike filed against it early last year. This month, the Southern California-based footwear brand filed a petition with the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) seeking to invalidate two of Nike’s design patents, which are central to the lawsuit the Oregon-based sportswear giant filed against Skechers. … Apparently Taylor-Made Golf has a new logo that looks a lot like the Marlins “M” (spotted by Joe).
And that’s it for today. Thanks to Dan for the great interview.
As listed in the sub-lede above, I’ll be at the Queens Baseball Convention for most of today (between travel and time there), so tomorrow’s content will likely be light. I’ll try to do a ticker (even if it’s a smallish one) but I can pretty much guarantee tomorrow’s post (size) will be small comparatively. But no worries (for those of you who can’t get enough of 5,000 word posts) — next weekend is the Super Bowl, so there will be plenty of great content, including the always awesome uni histories of both teams (from GUD guru Timmy Brulia).
If you can make it down to Katch Astoria for the QBC, make sure to stop by and say hello to me, Paul and the others on the uni panel. There’s a LOT of good stuff at the QBC besides that too, so I can guarantee you’ll be entertained.
For everyone else, have a great Saturday, and I’ll catch you tomorrow. But until then…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“I’m more offended by the $35 price tag for the cap than the New Era logo creep. Plus, 5950s do not look good on 99% of the population.”
— Go Browns