Anaheim Ducks fans could soon be wearing team merchandise designed by students at the Laguna College of Art + Design.
They may see T-shirts emblazoned with Brandon Tam’s cartoon-inspired image of the Ducks’ mascot, Wild Wing, or hoodies bearing Dante Sellas’ sketch-style interpretations of “goons.” They might even find Addie Hoffman’s line of grotesque caricatures similar to artist Ed Roth’s Rat Fink, aka the anti-Mickey Mouse.
The aforementioned students are among 18 enrolled in an LCAD honors class offered in collaboration with the National Hockey League franchise. For the third consecutive semester, juniors and seniors studying graphic design and digital media at the Laguna Beach school are creating promotional platforms for the team. This time the artwork may land in the Ducks’ merchandise store if executives decide a design matches or expands the Ducks brand.
“The students have to be immersed in the brand or it doesn’t work,” said Catharin Eure, LCAD’s dean of innovation and chairwoman of the graphic design and digital media program.
Each semester kicks off with a visit to a Ducks game at Honda Center so students can get a feel for the experience, from the chill of the ice to the thrill of the fans.
“There’s nothing better for students than real-world work at a high level,” Eure said. “If your student work is not top of the line, [brands] won’t do anything with you. It’s all about the strength and value of the product you create.”
Last semester, the program focused on creating motion graphics for the Ducks, and one by student Matthieu Chaminade made it to the big screen on the Honda Center scoreboard all season.
The Ducks are just one of LCAD’s corporate partners. It also works with Nike, Vans, Disney Interactive and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, among others.
In the competitive world of designing for businesses, you can be either “a wrist or a brain,” class instructor Dan Jensen said. So LCAD strives for a balance in teaching between software and design skills and communication skills.
“You can be a great designer, but if you can’t communicate about your design, then you’re not going to be a very successful designer,” Jensen said.
About 98% of recent LCAD graphic design graduates are working in their chosen fields, many for big-name companies, according to college officials.
Sofia Rodriguez said learning presentation skills has been the most valuable part of the honors program for her.
“Some people may not know much about art and design, so you have to learn to explain your process,” she said.
A significant portion of the class is dedicated to hearing and responding to feedback, not only from instructors and peers but from Ducks executives as well. Last week, Kris Loomis, the Ducks’ director of integrated projects and programming, gave the students his thoughts about their work. A few weeks earlier, the Ducks’ director of merchandise, Jill Bauer, visited the class to offer opinions on whether their designs were marketable.
With this semester’s focus on creating a clothing line, each student designed items around a theme. Sellas researched hockey lingo on Google and came up with goons, slang for players whose primary role is to respond to and deter violent play by the opposition.
“When I presented [to Bauer], she said a ‘gong show’ is when there’s a big fight, so that kind of continued with the goon idea,” Sellas said.
He designed a T-shirt with “The Gong Show” in a retro font above an illustrated rumble on the ice.
“When it comes to apparel, we go super narrative-based, like a reason for everything, ” Sellas said. “I like it — it makes it more fun.”
Most of the students had never been to a hockey game before, much less played, according to Eure.