Grand Rapids Griffins Logo Design Contest

September 3rd, 2011

What exactly is a Griffin? That was my first thought when I heard about the puckdrawn.com Grand Rapids Griffin New Year’s Eve logo and jersey design contest.

I had heard of team and at one time even considered picking up one of their jerseys even though I didn’t know what their mascot even was. What would we do without wikipedia?

The griffin, griffon, or gryphon (Greek: γρύφων, grýphōn, or γρύπων, grýpōn, early form γρύψ, grýps; Latin: gryphus) is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.


An eagle and lion combined – how awesome is that??? After reading the first line of the definition, I knew I had to enter the contest. The first thing I started doing was trying to sketch eagles and lions from memory just to play with shapes. I figured since we had just been to the Bronx Zoo a few weeks earlier that I might be able to make that happen.


It was so bad, that I wouldn’t even post it here. Buy hey, you’ve got to start somewhere. The next thing I did was do an image search for eagles, lions and griffins. Part of me was hoping that griffins really did exist and that you could buy a miniature one as a pet. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. I did come back with a whole slew of images and decided to take what I found and came up with a sketch.

I was pretty happy with the initial sketch, but as I checked out puckdrawn.com, I noticed that a lot of the entries were going the side-view route. Some of them were really good…depressingly good, even. Since we had been having such lovely weather, the wife and decided to take a walk to the pier and enjoy the outdoors instead of being couped-up inside. While we were out there enjoying cruise ships passing by, skywriters writing out wedding proposals followed romantically by an ad for car insurance and young Asian children running around naked, I thought about the project and how I could approach it differently. I really hadn’t come up with anything. We were walking home and I was just observing some of the great old buildings in town and happened past one with some lion statues out in front (would they be called liongoyles or gargions? I’m not sure). It was a lion with its paw on a crest standing in a defensive position.

Inspirational Lion Statue

That was it, that was going to be the inspiration for my concept.

The next step was to come up with some photos to use as a guide for my conept. I went back to my original search of eagles, lions and griffins and see if I could find something that would have a forward facing eagle head and a forwardish facing lion in a crouched, ready-to-pounce position, along with anything else that might be helpful.

Moodboard for Griffins logo

As I progressed, I found it tricky to make the logo simple enough while creating a bit of a complicated concept. To further aid myself, I took a few of the images from the moodboard and put them in illustrator and did a grayscale live trace to see what areas to focus the shadows on.

Traces for Griffins logo

Here’s the final concept as it was submitted to puckdrawn:
Final Submission for Grand Rapids Griffins Logo and Jersey Competition

I decided to use Thunderbird as the typeface for the “GR” on the shield, that also carried over to the striping on the jersey as well as the numbers. I liked the ornamentation of the typeface and felt it had a mythical look and feel that worked well with the griffin. The colors were chosen based of what the Grand Rapids Griffins are currently using. I also used the shadowing in the front legs to spell out a “G” and an “R” to represent Grand and Rapids.

My overall synopsis of the logo is a B and jersey an A-. For the logo, I feel like I got a bit too into detail in certain places (like the feet) and didn’t get into the proper amount of detail in the face – particularly the beak/mouth area. My previous jersey entry for the Winnipeg Phoenix was a little plain and a little too accepting of the Reebok Edge template. With this one, I decided to take the shoulder yokes and instead of just using a color, to use the wings from the griffin to make them more visually stimulating. I also liked the contrast of the gold/white/blue from the logo against the red jersey. Every time I do one of these competitions I feel like learn so much more. Hopefully, I can keep entering these and hopefully one day winning one!

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