Sep
3

I Really Designed the Georgia Tech Football Field

I Really Designed the Georgia Tech Football Field

Note: if any link takes you to spam, just click it again — the blog got spammy in the 7 years of inactivity…sorry

It’s been 7 years since I posted on this blog, and that was to introduce my then-new side project, Winsipedia. It’s been 8 years since I wrote a real post, which, like many others on this blog, was about Georgia Tech uniforms. (I’m still somewhat active on Twitter, though, so follow me @SportDesignBlog.)

Let me tell you a quick story about how this blog and my posts about Georgia Tech’s brand led to me doing freelance design work for them and yes, designing their new football field that was unveiled today. If you want to get right to the field design, click here.

Six years ago, former Georgia Tech All-ACC Center, Sean Bedford, reached out to me because he had read my Open Letter to the Georgia Tech Athletic Department, which made its way around the Georgia Tech message boards. He wanted to work together on a proposal to the athletic department that would, among other things, include some branding recommendations. We met and worked on it on and off, and about a year later, met with a few members of the Georgia Tech Athletics marketing team. We presented a vision for what Georgia Tech’s brand could look like and how it should be more consistent, similar to what I did in my old open letter, just more updated.

That presentation went well, and over the next couple years, the marketing team would occasionally send me designs to get my thoughts. Then in 2017, it finally became time for Georgia Tech to undergo a brand update. They were (finally) in the process of coming to an agreement with a new uniform provider after years with Russell Athletic, and they wanted to have their brand buttoned up for the new provider. I was excited that they asked me to be involved, and I went to multiple meetings and offered my opinions on the brand, focusing on the same points from my 2012 open letter — that Georgia Tech needs to pick one gold and stick with it, get rid of black and yellow, and they need a wordmark. They didn’t have one before. Uniforms, fields, and courts for different sports all used different typefaces.

In addition to my opinions, I of course offered unsolicited design concepts as well. While I tried my hand at a wordmark, I do like the one we ended up with more than what I had tried. It was designed by Learfield IMG College in Atlanta. I will claim one piece of the wordmark. In a review of the wordmark concepts, what ultimately became the final version didn’t have a right-foot serif on the stem of the “R,” and I said it needed one to fill the empty space. So I’m claiming that serif. :)

I offered unsolicited football uniform design concepts as well, but adidas handles that and handled it really well. I love what they came up with for Georgia Tech, which is the first time I’ve been able to say that as a fan.

Shortly after that rebranding project, Georgia Tech reached out about doing some freelance design work, which of course I was more than happy to do. So for the past two years I’ve been doing various projects for them — posters for tennis and Georgia Tech’s first black student-athletes, a few logos, and lots of t-shirts. Here are some of my favorites:

 

The Football Field Design

In June, when Georgia Tech announced Grant Field at Bobby Dodd Stadium would be switching to a turf field, my mind went immediately to the field design. I scrambled to mock up a few ideas and emailed them to my contacts at Georgia Tech — because apparently sending unsolicited designs is what I do. I also posted them to social media with their permission. I continued to try more things and sent an update to Georgia Tech, and they ended up inviting me to the first meeting about the new field design. I then went to town, creating a 36-page presentation full of ideas ranging from the most basic, expected designs to crazy ones I was sure wouldn’t get used. For NDA reasons, I can’t share what I tried, but I tried it all — skylines, hexagons, “stinger” shapes like those on the uniforms.

I went in assuming, like with most turf fields, Georgia Tech would be getting a permanent design stitched into the turf. It turns out they’ll be painting the field every week like they did with a grass field, so a lot of my more intricate designs were out from the start, but my favorite ones were simpler anyway. I don’t think anyone at that first meeting, which was essentially to talk about what we could and couldn’t do, was expecting to see 36 pages of ideas, but it went well and everyone liked a lot of the simpler designs that could actually be painted on each week. We went through a few rounds of updates and a few versions were eventually shown to head coach Geoff Collins and Athletic Director Todd Stansbury.

I really wanted to do something more than just the wordmark in the end zone, but I quickly found out why most fields have just that. My favorite design (and the one we hoped to go with) was similar to the final one, but it had what we called “stinger” shapes in the end zone below the wordmark. I thought it gave Georgia Tech something unique and “ownable,” but it turned out to be against the rules because of the way the shapes met at the goal line, and when fixed to abide by the rules, it didn’t have the same effect.

I also really liked these “stinger” shapes for the sidelines that were on my very first designs shared on social media, but the desire to include “404″ (Atlanta’s area code) and the social media handles on the sidelines made these not work very well.

I was disappointed to lose those two unique elements, but there are a few little things in the final design I’m excited about. Coach Collins wanted a representation of the school’s 4 football national championships on the field, so I added these trophies to the backs of the end zones.

They also wanted “ATL” included on the field, so I designed this logo and proposed that it could be used on merchandise, which they’ve already done with these masks that they’re giving away. It’s also appeared in recruiting graphics.

I also thought it was important to have gold end zones as opposed to navy or just unpainted green (which won’t come as a surprise if you’ve read any of my old posts about Georgia Tech’s gold), but one thing I tried was two different-colored end zones, which we all really liked. I’m not sure why more teams don’t do this — I think it’s a good look, and there’s no reason the two need to be the same. So this is the mockup the field unveiled today was based on:

And here are some stills from the video Georgia Tech posted today, which gave me goosebumps (I’d love to post it here but my CMS is so outdated having not been used in 7 years that I can’t embed it…):

I was able to go see the field the other day, and it looks great in person — Chris May and the grounds crew did a great job with it. Here are a few pictures I took (click to see them larger):

I’m still in shock that I was able to work on this project, and it was surreal to see what’s been in my Photoshop document for months painted on a field I’ve been to 50+ times. My dream list of design projects would be to design any of the following: Georgia Tech’s football or basketball uniforms, basketball court, or football field. And I got to actually do one. And while there’s not a lot to work with on the canvas of a football field, I was able to try a ton of things. And while some of the unique elements I was excited about weren’t able to be used, I’m excited about the little things I got to add like the trophies and the ATL logo. Even just the fact that Georgia Tech will finally have a gold end zone and a wordmark with just a stroke around it and no dated drop shadow is exciting. To me at least.

So I just wanted to share that this little blog that’s sat idle for 7 years actually led to a dream project of mine, and I have Sean Bedford to thank for starting the ball rolling 6 years ago and the awesome Ideation Team at Georgia Tech for including me in this project. And my mom! She’s always taught me to ask for what you want (or in this case, send unsolicited designs) because the worst someone can say is “no.”

I’m still somewhat active on Twitter, so follow me at @SportDesignBlog. And if you’d like to work together on a sports branding project, email me at steven@stevenlittledesign.com.

16 Responses to “I Really Designed the Georgia Tech Football Field”

  1. Jack Carswell
    September 3rd, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I do not like AT ALL two different colored endzones, but if you felt the need to do that, why not one GOLD one and one WHITE one. Blue is NOT one of Tech’s primary colors, and many of us fans are sick of having it crammed down our throats. LSU also has different colored endzones, and although I think that looks crappy too, at least they use their PRIMARY colors, and not a secondary one. In a word, blue SUCKS.

  2. Lee
    September 3rd, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    Wow, this is a super odd thing to get so worked up about Jack, what did navy blue ever do to you? Way to come dump all over this guy’s story about achieving a personal dream.

    Steven – sorry the first comment you got on this great story was from this curmudgeon. Obviously opinions will differ but I personally think the field looks amazing. Love the story as well. Until recently Tech branding has been awful forever with all of the issues you mentioned, so you’re nothing short of a hero in my book. Keep up the great work.

  3. Russ Williams
    September 3rd, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    Congratulations and thank you for all the time and love you poured into our beloved GT.

  4. Tech Fan
    September 3rd, 2020 at 4:55 pm

    Steven,
    That’s an awesome story, and a great looking field! Keep up the good work, and Go Jackets!

  5. Tech Fan
    September 3rd, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    Also—-I want that hat!!!!

  6. Shed
    September 3rd, 2020 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for your hard work and dedication! I think the field looks great! And I’m an old fart from the late 50′s.

  7. I-Perfection Harris
    September 3rd, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    Yetman appears yet again. Sounds like 65jacket from the message boards. Great job in the field design. It looks GreaT! What’s the Good Word???

  8. Reggie Ball
    September 3rd, 2020 at 9:03 pm

    Looks great dog! To Hell with georgia!

  9. Jon Freeman
    September 3rd, 2020 at 9:05 pm

    Gun to your head, do you think you could show the white out version of your design? Love the new digs!

  10. Rod “Stinky Breath”
    September 3rd, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    This field design has not been Hive approved yet. You will be banned for using navy, that is copyrighted by the Pitt Panthers!

  11. Jon Freeman’s wife
    September 3rd, 2020 at 10:17 pm

    Come back to bed Jon!

    Steven – great work here, clearly more interesting to my husband than I am…

  12. ADBrady69
    September 3rd, 2020 at 10:35 pm

    Jack Carswell……melt

  13. jabsterjacket
    September 4th, 2020 at 10:20 am

    Couple things:

    While you were adding serifs to the wordmark, I wish you could have gotten one added to the lower left corner of the “E”. I just can’t unsee that.

    Also–I like the “G” in the wordmark. Looks like nothing the dwags use.

    The “ATL” logo is great–too bad the stinger serif in the “A” isn’t in the wordmark as well.

  14. KGBJacket
    September 5th, 2020 at 8:07 am

    I love seeing all of you melt over this. Go spatchcock a chicken today and get over yourselves and watch Snitker “Snit” tonight and blow a winnable game. If he doesn’t lose the game for us, rally Ender will. Just wish y’all could be as cool as me and the guy who designed this field and t-shirts. MELT!

  15. TBuzzIE
    September 5th, 2020 at 8:12 am

    If Biden was president, Bobby Dodd would be immaculate. Concessions would be much cheaper as would be parking. Vote Biden 2020! #TrumpisawesomebutICanseemtograspthegoodheisdoing
    TBuzzIE

  16. Ramblin_rekt
    September 5th, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Dems rule, Pubs drool

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