Chicago Bears Heritage Tee
Chicago Tribune needed an exclusive Chicago Bears t-shirt design. The shirts would be given away as promotional items with new print and digital subscriptions. The design must look different than anything other Bears shirt on the market, and Bears shirts are everywhere in Chicago.
JT Andexler: Creative Director
The Chicago Bears are a founding team of the NFL. Established in 1920, the Bears have a heritage and history. I wanted to honor this heritage with 1920s-inspired original lettering. I looked at flyers, pennants, and other memorabilia from the time period. I found an interesting typeface a flyer from 1924. It was a Roman that would have been unremarkable except for an extremely low x-height only in the lowercase letters. I also found some interesting hand-lettering on a pennant from the late '20s.
I used a grid to set the spacing and proportions of the letters and started sketching. I colored in the letterforms with marker, made some notes on what to adjust, and took it to the computer. All of the lettering is original, even the "Est. 1920." Those letters are loosely based on the Roman on the old flyer. After the letters were drawn, I added color, outlines, the Bears logo, and the Chicago flag stars.
The design had to conform to all of the Bears brand guidelines, especially use of the official logo. It had to be approved by the Bears design team, as well as our own team at the Chicago Tribune.
Successes and Achievements
The Chicago Tribune circulation team was very happy with the design and printed 2500 shirts.
Know the t-shirt printer beforehand. Different processes require different designs. Digital prints need bitmap design files. Screen prints need vector files with different layers for each ink color. To get a vintage look, find a printer that offers water-based inks instead of the standard plastisol. Print on a dark shirt so the heather pattern shows through the ink for a faded look. Add distressing to the vector file for distressed screen print.