Recently, I built out a live type digital font for the Seattle Kraken Jersey letters and numbers for my employer. It is a great privilege to be able to do this since it affects the company’s ability to automate product creation at many functional areas.
The functional areas for art and product automation in sports apparel include:
- Full size production-ready art deliverables; these are the final deliverables sent to screen print, component factories, or Made To Order facilities (MTO) that fabricate product direct to consumer when the consumer orders the product.
- Wholesale product preview imagery; this is typically a smaller thumbnail of the production files composited on a detailed drawing of the garment
- Photograph-like digital renderings or product photography composites; imagine what you’d see on a final product page where the athlete’s name is on the product, this is typically a composite from Photoshop or in special cases dynamic web-rendered product preview.
- marketing imagery and video; any designer worth his salt will mock up the product and give themselves the flexibility to adjust the athlete’s name on the product to suit the needs of emerging stars. Assets created by marketing include models wearing products, video of models for commercials, any email or web banner or ad with the products included fall into this category.
Sports leagues dole out their proprietary art materials in a measured and intentional way. It’s super important that those proprietary art assets of the sports teams remain somewhat inaccessible to the public who would more-easily rip off their intellectual property and sell unlicensed product and thereby circumventing license agreements.
It therefore makes logical sense to distribute artwork in formats locked into professional art industry silos. If the common person can’t open the files, they can’t distribute knock offs.
Where big businesses can innovate faster than a knock off producer who can open the art files is in speed and convenience and product accuracy.
Enter Digital Font Technology
Digital Fonts are ubiquitous for ease of use. Most designers will shop for free fonts. Few people endeavor to create digital fonts from typefaces since it takes a great deal of learning investment.
My take on digital fonts in sports apparel, or the licensed sports goods and services industry generally, is a cross section of the artwork provided by the leagues for official use and the production art deliverable requirements. By building fonts with these technical specifications embedded into the digital fonts, any functional area of a sports licensee seeking to capitalize on its license with sports can now accurately automate any product related to that team or sport.
This concept, automating sports artwork, applies to apparel, physical goods, digital goods, and anything that has to replicate the on ice, on court, on field athlete. The concept is simple in theory yet few, if any, seem to attempt it or if attempted keep their sucess a well-guarded secret.
As a part of my portfolio, I will display the font created with some demo markings (which the resourceful may be able to download and reverse-engineer) and show finished products using the fonts without the demo marks.
The un-demoed, full use fonts are strictly not for sale, but inquiring minds looking for this kind of critical thinking may reach me here.