Luc, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a 26-year-old graphic designer based in Essex, Ontario, Canada. I work at a full-service design and marketing agency but in my free time, I specialise in retro badge designs and typographic logos. As a child, I always enjoyed visual arts, although, at that time, my true devotion was to sports. In high school, I decided to take a media arts class, and that’s where my passion for graphic design was born. From there, I studied graphic design in college and fell in love with logo design and typography.
Like many others, we’ve loved following your NHL series on Instagram. Could you tell us more about it?
As I mentioned before, sports were a big part of my life growing up. My hometown is a border city to Detroit, so I grew up idolising the Detroit Red Wings. When Covid hit and we were all stuck at home, I desperately needed a creative outlet. I started by making logos and badge designs each week to push my design skills and stay creative. The whole NHL series started by accident through a passion project of designing retro badges for my all-time favourite team, the Detroit Red Wings. I enjoyed the process and challenge so much that I continued on to the Toronto Maple Leafs. After that, I set the goal to create a collection for every team in the NHL. This series has its challenges, but overall, it has helped me to become a better designer, find my creative style and combine my childhood passion with my love for design.
“I think everyone should have passion projects that allow them to take a step away from their 9-5 work and enhance their skills in a manner that sparks joy for them.”
How important is it for artists to reserve time to work on passion projects like this?
Most people (I hope) choose their careers based on their passion. Even if this is the case, unfortunately, a lot of the time, you aren’t able to work on specific projects or areas that spark your passion. In order to keep the spark alive, I decided that I needed something outside of work where I could have complete creative freedom. To me, this is the best decision I could have made as it has helped me in my career, helped with my mental health, and enhanced my overall skills in design. I think everyone should have passion projects that allow them to take a step away from their 9-5 work and enhance their skills in a manner that sparks joy for them.
“I think it’s important with passion projects to take your time, explore multiple ideas and embrace the creative process.”
How long do you typically spend creating a set of badge artwork for a team?
When working on this series I try not to think about time too much. I work in a deadline-driven industry, so when I start a passion project, I allow myself to enjoy the process. Some collections come together pretty fast and some need more time, but I generally give myself one month to work on a team. Since passion projects come second to paid work, I might only have a few hours some weeks, but it’s not uncommon for me to dedicate half of my Saturdays to this series. I think it’s important with passion projects to take your time, explore multiple ideas and embrace the creative process.
Can you give us an overview of your process—which elements do you usually draw first and how do you ensure that everything holds together as a set?
The process is very important for this series! I go through the same steps each time.
I collect information about the team (established date, location, logo history, taglines, nicknames and colour schemes).
Next, I create a mood board of team logos, jerseys and apparel designs. In this step, I really try to find the hidden gems of the past. Some of these teams have been around for a long time and I love finding pieces of their visual identity from their early years.
After that, I create a second mood board of other creative inspiration that I think relates to the team. For example, when I was working on the Minnesota Wild collection, I saved images of vintage outdoor apparel designs and signage. I really love to pair the traditional sports look with these vintage designs. This is the best way to describe my style.
I give myself as much time as I need to sketch ideas. I usually start by sketching a page of letter marks because I know these will be used in multiple designs. After that, I usually sketch some ideas for a script design and then move into sketching badges.
I move my sketches into Affinity Designer and start the vector process.
To maintain a consistent look, each collection uses the same base colour (a cream/canvas colour). I also tweak the team colours slightly to give them a bit of a retro feel (I shift blacks to have a bit of brown and desaturate some team’s colours).
One of the biggest challenges is the layout of all the badges. I use the same four-row setup for every collection and try to keep the height of the rows the same across all the collections. This makes for a consistent series, but it also creates limitations—there are some good designs that don’t make the cut just because they don’t work well in the layout.
Once I finish the collection, I create a new file with just the final artwork and use the Export Persona to save out JPGS in a single click.
How do you come up with so many different designs? Where do you get your inspiration?
I think I answered part of this in the question above (mood boards and team research). Other than that, I just try to mix my style with the team’s look. Each team has their own style, so this helps keep things fresh. After designing for so many teams I felt like I made all the possible circle designs, and I was worried I had too many similar badges. This is stressful, but it pushes me to find new ways of designing within the same holding shape. I find it helps to start with a basic layout and look where I can add unique shapes to fill space and hold typography.
How do you find using Affinity Designer for this type of work?
Affinity Designer is a great app for the type of work I do. I use a lot of software day-to-day, but when it comes to my personal projects, I prefer to use Designer because of the enjoyable user experience. In my opinion, Designer has some small features that really speed up my process, such as the Donut Tool for creating banners in a non-destructive way. Once you learn the fundamentals, the app feels very intuitive and that allows me to spend more time designing and less time searching for the right tool.
“There are so many great features, but I think what makes Affinity Designer great isn’t the amount of features, it’s the thought that is put into them. There are no features that seem out of place or useless—everything has its purpose and works how you want it to.”
Do you have any favourite features?
Yes! Typography is a big part of my work, especially text on a path. In my opinion, the text on a path feature in Designer is the best I have ever used.
The pressure curve in the Stroke panel is another small feature that makes my job a lot easier. I can easily taper vector lines without having to create a custom brush or mess with any settings. This is something I use in every collection and it’s so satisfying to play with!
It might sound boring, but the Corner Tool is something I use in every design, and it just works so well in Designer. I often put soft corners on typography and badge designs, and this tool makes it very easy.
The Contour Tool is also very helpful. There are often times when I need to scale a shape evenly on all sides. Rather than using a stroke, I can use the Contour Tool and see a live preview of the change I’m making. I think this is a tool that is overlooked, but you really start to see its power when you start using it.
There are so many great features, but I think what makes Affinity Designer great isn’t the amount of features, it’s the thought that is put into them. There are no features that seem out of place or useless—everything has its purpose and works how you want it to.
This might be a difficult question, but if you had to pick one, which is your favourite badge design of 2022?
It’s not easy to pick a favourite, but overall my favourite design from 2022 is the lettermark I made for my Minnesota Wild collection. This is such a simple mark but it’s so hard to make a design like that work. I spent a while trying to create tree silhouettes in the negative space of the M. It’s always a challenge to fit those hidden elements in a design in an appropriate way. For me, this is the best design I made all year.
You’ve also created some font sets that you sell on your website. What inspired you to do this?
I currently have two fonts for sale on my website and they both started the same way. I was after a specific look and couldn’t find a font that was quite right. I buy a lot of fonts, and I have so much respect for typeface designers, but sometimes it’s hard to find exactly what you need. At first, I designed the fonts for myself (using Affinity Designer), but after spending some time learning how to make an OTF file, I decided to put them for sale on my site.
Creating resources for other designers is something I really enjoy and it’s something I want to explore more after I finish my NHL series.
Lastly, what are your creative aspirations for 2023? Is there anything special you would like to achieve?
My goal for 2023 is to finish my NHL series. I currently have eight collections left. With my 9-5 job, freelance work and my life outside of design it’s not always easy to find time for passion projects. That’s why my goal is geared towards personal work. I have found so much joy in these passion projects and they have created so many opportunities for me that I think it’s worth making time for every year.
To keep up to date with his NHL badge series and other typographic work, follow @luc_designs on Instagram.