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Remembership, Part 7: Helmets and Hats

[Editor’s Note: Membership card designer Scott M.X. Turner is back with this week’s installment of Remembership, his retrospective series about the Uni Watch membership card program. Enjoy. — PL]

By Scott M.X. Turner

Most of our membership card requests are based on the back of a jersey. That’s how the card program was conceived. It wasn’t until our 401st member, Casey Shaeffer, that we got a request for a helmet. Casey caught on that a lot of logos, info, names, numbers, and even safety warnings could be incorporated into a membership card. After we did Casey’s card, we started getting more helmet requests.

The Cowboys have been particularly popular, because the Dymo nametapes on the back of their helmets function like an NOB. Ohio State has also been popular, because of their signature buckeye decals.

If you see inconsistencies in some of these card designs I’m about to show you, that’s not an accident. It’s also not intentional. I work with source materials that sometimes vary, even when they’re for the same team. Deciding which non-logo elements to include (screws, rivets, airholes, ridges, striping contours) is a case-by-case call. My rule is that if it’s a graphic design element (logo, flag, stripes, letters and numbers, warning language), it gets included. After that, it depends on how the helmet looks in reference photos, whether the member asked for those items, if the helmet looks right or wrong with or without them, and so on.

Clockwise from top left: Casey Shaeffer, Rodney Hartwig, James T. Paterson, Kevin Mericle, Drew Martin, Joshua Hanna.
Clockwise from top left: Bob Hudson with his college alma-mater’s sticker, Tory Humphries from 1977 when helmets had none of today’s safety equipment, Kristopher Hunt throwback.
Clockwise from upper left: Patrick Faherty’s 1968 model, Dan Luther, Mark Parker, Jason Garrett, Bruce T. Hart, Nick Dembski, Jonathan Hoffman, Matt Maxson.
Clockwise from upper left: Matt Dillon, David Eiben, Kevin Seekely.

The Georgia Bulldogs and their dog-bone merit stickers proved popular. The following four sheets include a University of Illinois design that predates our prohibition on Indigenous imagery. The red/white/green card with watermelon-seed merit stickers (third sheet down) is the Stanhope State Watermelon Warriors, a fictional team that I held back from our Fictional Team Week.

Clockwise from top left: Georgia Bulldogs (Nick Tringale), Michigan State Spartans (Matt Powers), Michigan Wolverines (Chris Gale), Iowa Hawkeyes (Travis Hauschildt), Louisiana State Tigers (Greg Cornwall), University of Illinois (Shawn Crull), Georgia Bulldogs (C. Trent Rosecrans), Georgia Bulldogs (Austin Gillis).
Clockwise from top left: Arkansas Razorbacks (Jason Boyeskie), Clemson Tigers (Adam Garrettson), Nebraska Cornhuskers (Gil Neumann), Fresno State Bulldogs (Jared Buccola), Saint John’s Johnnies (Matt Heitkamp), Windsor Lancers (Trevor Dinham), Nevada Wolfpack (Damon Hirschensohn), Iowa Hawkeyes top-of-helmet view) (Matthew S. Carey).
Clockwise from top left: Michigan Wolverines (Adam Childs), member’s high-school football helmet (Dennis Jones), Brigham Young Cougars (Justin McKenzie), Stanhope State Watermelon Warriors (Grant Young), Brigham Young Cougars (Thom Carter), Georgia Bulldogs (Scott Hamil), Michigan Wolverines (Patrick Archer), Georgia Bulldogs (Ben Tucker).
Clockwise from top left: Washington Huskies (Brandon Curtis and Rob Webber), member’s college helmet (Timmy Donahue), Iowa Hawkeyes (Dan Cincinnati), Wisconsin Badgers (Jacob D. Olson), Northwestern Wildcats (Jonathan Gutierrez).

Occasionally members send their own mockups to help us get it right. Here’s Timmy Donahue’s hand-drawn layout for his Falcons card above:

Turning our attention back to pro teams, the NFL, AFL and USFL are all represented. In two instances we even depicted the front of the helmet, instead of the back: Bruce Jaynes chose the San Diego Chargers’ 1963 helmet with its All-American City sticker on the front, and Joel Keller’s card featuring the New York Giants’ helmet front worn by Ron Johnson in the early 1970s is a good example of the simplest design making for the coolest cardback.

Clockwise from top left: Cleveland Browns (Valerie Kyriakopoulos), New Orleans Saints (Nick Lacour), Green Bay Packers (Tanner Dunkel), Seattle Seahawks (Chris Dodge), San Diego Chargers (Bruce Jaynes), Jacksonville Bulls (Brian M. Crago), Baltimore Ravens (Frank Seitz), Green Bay Packers (Matthew Logan).
Clockwise from top left: Buffalo Bills (Alex Fabiilli), Green Bay Packers (Dave Rakowski), New York Giants (Joel Keller).

But football isn’t the only sport with helmets. We’ve also had three requests for motorsports lids:

Clockwise from top left: Ayrton Senna F1 (Carlos A. Jaliffe), Jacques Villeneuve (Matthew Walthert), Rick Johnson motocross (Rodney Williams).

One member — Nic Schultz — asked for a hockey helmet. He submitted a finished vector-art image for us to use for his card, which is based on a Michigan Wolverines ice hockey helmet:

We’ve also had three baseball headwear requests — one based on the Cubs’ batting helmets with the hand-drawn number inside the embroidered logo (they had those numbers for many years in the 1960s and ’70s), and two based on the Pirates’ Stargell Stars.

Clockwise from top left: Chicago Cubs (MIchael J. Volkovitsch), Pittsburgh Pirates Stargell Stars (Brian M. Pidgeon), Pittsburgh Pirates Stargell Stars (Scott Chamberlain and John Citro).
Comments (19)

    Out of curiosity, do you design beyond the margins and then crop the “completed” image to get the dimensions of the card? The reason I am asking is because the words “Cowboys” are cropped on the card, but other team names are not cropped. So, do you design half letters to work within the designated dimensions? Or use whole letters and crop to fit the dimensions.

    I am simply curious about your work flow.

    Good question, Drew. With complicated designs (buckeyes, wordmarks, bumpers, sublimated patterns), I do design beyond the borders of the card. When I have the entire design completed, I’ll use a clipping mask to remove everything beyond the border. Simpler elements, like stripes or solid color shapes, get drawn right up to the border.

    Thanks again for this series! It’s both a treat to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the creative and production process, and fun to see some terrific cards featured. Which I know one could look at any time in the gallery, but I rarely do, so it’s special to have them featured in this kind of article where I’ll actually see them. Great stuff!

    Thanks, Scott. It’s been a treat to dive in and revisit all of the membership requests.

    Just a bit of a critique with the descriptions on each group – going clockwise just seems weird and counterintuitive to me when they’re laid out in what’s basically a 2×4 table, so I’d usually expect descriptions accompanying such a grid to go row by row; instead, it’s starting from the top left, going down the whole right column, then back up the left column. It’s obviously not as much of an issue when there’s just three in a group.

    Maybe it’s just because I deal with tables a *lot* and that’s how I read them.

    FWIW: Scott Turner agrees with you, but I insisted on the clockwise caption format. Why? Because I didn’t want to say “First row, left to right… Second Row, left to right… Third row…” and so on. I preferred to have just one directional phrase at the beginning of the caption.

    I agree that it’s somewhat counterintuitive. But I decided that was better than littering the captions with so many directionals.

    If you have another solution, I’m all ears.

    I realize it’s a dangerous assumptio, but if it read “listed in order” or with out direction and then proceeded top to bottom, right to left that people would easily figure it out.

    I was honored to be the first helmet card! I even remember Paul saying, we’ve never done a helmet, but the uniqueness of the Cowboys helmet makes it worth a shot.

    Thanks for mentioning me!

    Casey, did you initially ask for the *side* of the helmet, with the star logo? I have a vague memory of that, and I think I said no but then proposed the rest-helmet approach.

    Fascinating to see college football helmets functioning as 3-dimensional bulletin boards. They remind me of stop signs in college towns, covered in skater and indie band stickers.

    Stanhope State Watermelon Warriors!
    Why didn’t I think of that when I got a card…Scott, I’m probably going to need one of those soon.

    Loved my Ron Johnson card! Not sure what inspired the idea to ask for that design, but Scott did a great job on it.

    My name is in a Uni-Watch article!!!! Thank you Scott for doing all of the designs and being so committed to accuracy and getting people what they want. All the designs are beautiful! (Yeah even the M*ch*gan ones)

    Is that THE C Trent Rosecrans, the Reds’ best writer? Impressive to see somebody who gets it truly Gets It.

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