Aside from the Grand Rapids Griffins, I don’t normally enter jersey design contests. In general, I don’t like “fan designed” jersey contests because rarely does an actual fan of the team win.
I made an exception this year, though, for the Kalamazoo Wings. I can’t rightfully call myself a Kalamazoo fan given their rivalry with the Toledo Walleye, who are affiliated with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Detroit Red Wings, who I actually am a fan of.
The K-Wings do hold a special place in nostalgia for me, though. They were the visitors in the first hockey game I ever went to, a Thanksgiving game against the Muskegon Lumberjacks when both teams were in the old International Hockey League and I was about five years old.
So I decided to give the Wings’ contest a shot and, in all honesty, it didn’t go in the direction I expected it to at all.
My initial thought, since all existing K-Wings marks were off-limits, was to turn to mythology. “Hermes had a winged helmet, didn’t he?” In addition to winged sandals, yes he did. So I set about trying to do something like that.
In my head, I was thinking something kind of like the old Ottawa Senators logo, with the team name in a partial roundel broken by the wings of the helmet. It turns out that “Kalamazoo Wings” is a really hard name to work with without getting letters upside down at some point on the circle.
Also, in all of the logos I’ve worked on in the past, I’ve never tried to draw a face. As I continued working, I got closer to what I wanted. I abandoned Hermes and his traveller’s cap and went for a more Nordic full helmet, but the contest deadline came up quickly and I had a conference and a short vacation planned. It just wasn’t going to come together.
In parallel with the helmet-based logo, I was putting together an alternate logo based around a K in a shield with wings. I liked the general shape right from the start but tried a variety of fonts for the K, colors, etc. That process actually went well, and partway through I realized that I had a couple different options I could run with.
As I ran out of time, I decided that I needed to switch gears. I had a solid logo in my intended alternate and I had a tertiary that could become a secondary in a pinch (which I was in). I had a jersey design already in place from a previous Griffins contest so I pulled the plug on continued sketching and called it done.
The crest, as previously mentioned, is a K inside a shield with wings. In gold and blue, I think it has a bit of an art deco vibe.
That shield is repeated without the wings on the shoulder logo, where it’s adorned with a pair of crossed hockey sticks and the letters KWHC – Kalamazoo Wings Hockey Club.
The jersey itself features a red body and blue sleeves. I wanted to do contrasting-color sleeves as they give the jersey the “winged” look of the Detroit Red Wings’ away jersey, something I think is appropriate for another team named the Wings.
It’s not what I was aiming for but I think it looks good. It’s probably not different enough from the K-Wings current design to win the contest, which is why I’m disappointed that I ran out of time to work on the winged helmet idea, which I think was pretty unique.
We’ll see how it goes, though.