by Alec Lessner | AHL On The Beat
In the American Hockey League, each member of a team’s business staff is expected to wear many hats. And one of the busiest front office roles is that of the graphic designer.
The graphic designer for the Iowa Wild, Travis Green, works on many projects that can be seen both inside and outside the arena. Green designs advertisements, arena banners, flyers, graphics for social media, and much more. His most prominent pieces of work come in the form of the team’s specialty jerseys.
In early 2023, the Iowa Wild turned to Green to design the jerseys that would be worn on Star Wars Night on Nov. 18. While the team had worn Star Wars themed jerseys before, Green wanted to design something different from previous iterations. One of his early sketches, a Wookiee holding a hockey stick, ultimately served as the inspiration for the final concept.
“I’m a huge Star Wars fan,” Green said. “There were a few concepts at the beginning. I sketched out the Wookiee design on a piece of paper, but we also looked at jerseys that featured the Resistance symbol and other Star Wars motifs.”
All specialty jerseys require multiple internal rounds of approval, and sweaters referencing Star Wars must also get sign-off from Lucasfilm and Disney. Green initially worried that the Iowa Wookiee concept might not make it through to the finish line but ultimately found the approval process to be much easier than anticipated.
“There wasn’t too much back and forth with this jersey,” Green said. They were pretty happy with how everything went. We just made some changes with how the Wookiee’s face looked in terms of his eyes and the patterning of his fur. One of the bigger changes was going from a light base jersey to our green base jersey.”
The final design featured several hidden design elements, including multiple subtle uses of the letter W on the front of the jersey. Green also designed a combination of the Minnesota Wild logo and the symbol of the Resistance, which he incorporated into the front crest. Underneath the front crest, Green wrote “Let the Wookiee win,” in Aurebesh, the written language in Star Wars.
With the jersey approved by all parties and sent to production, Green and the rest of Iowa’s marketing department set about rebranding the team for the evening. The team incorporated the front crest of the jersey into its social media for a week, themed its game presentation, and invited Star Wars characters to the arena for the evening. Iowa’s merchandise department also received special permission to sell t-shirts with the Iowa Wookiees logo on the front.
“It’s always one thing to design a jersey, but it’s great when we can do supplemental pieces that fans can get a hold of,” Green said. “Not everybody can afford a jersey at auction. Fans want something that’s more attainable and within their budget.”
Both the jerseys and the T-shirts proved to be a smash hit with fans. The team store was quickly wiped out of product on the day of the game and the jerseys immediately grabbed attention online.
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“That was really cool to see,” Green said. “You never really have that expectation. I was just doing it as a pure passion project. I love Star Wars, I love hockey, and it was a great opportunity to combine the two. To see the response from not only Star Wars fans, but also the hockey community was great.”
One of the most prominent voices clamoring for a jersey was San Francisco 49ers tight end and Iowa native George Kittle. While the team listed all available jerseys for auction on the week of the game, a special jersey may still be made for Kittle.
Can I please get one
— George Kittle (@gkittle46) November 21, 2023
“I heard that we might try to facilitate that,” Green said. “To see him wear that would be icing on the cake for me.”
The Wild also accommodated other fans who missed out on the night of the game and created a special preorder for another round of T-shirts. Hundreds of orders poured in from all over the world in just a few days.
With another successful design in the rearview mirror, Green is already thinking about how to make next season’s Star Wars Night even bigger.
“There’s definitely plenty of ways we can go with it now,” Green said. “It was already one of our biggest nights, and hopefully we can bring the Wookiee back for years to come.