Interview: David Young

It's not often you'll find an interview on Icethetics, but I got the chance to pose 20 questions to the guy responsible for creating the look of Team Canada.

His name is David Young and he's got a lot to say on the subject. Born and raised in Wayne Gretzky's hometown of Brantford, Ontario, David knew in high school that graphic design was his passion. So how did he get from that to creating the icon of his country's national pastime? Glad you asked.

I asked David some of the questions that were submitted by Icethetics readers as well as a handful of my own. Hope you enjoy the interview.

You were asked to design Team Canada's hockey sweaters. What was that like?
David Young: Being a proud Canadian, I was thrilled when approached by Nike to redesign one the most iconic sweaters of all time — the Canadian hockey sweater. We’re globally recognized as the home of hockey, so the project was and is close to my heart.

Tell us about your background designing jerseys. What other teams/countries have you designed for? 
DY: Well, truth be told, I’ve only ever designed two minor league sweaters for my hometown teams close to twenty years ago. The first being a logo contest the BMHL held, and [the other] a redesign for a AAA team my brother played for, along with Chris Gratton before he went to the O.

How did you get into this line of work? 
DY: Luckily I knew in high school that I would be in for a life of design, just unaware of the road i would travel. 

Was it a longtime goal or something you just happened upon? 
DY: I didn't really embrace what I did until I got to Nike in Beaverton. It was there I realized I could make a real go at this. The constant mentoring from design directors such as Chris McLure or Todd Van Horn has certainly stuck with me. 

What kind of exposure do you get personally for your work? 
DY: couple of pints maybe, but that's about it. When the sweaters were launched in May at the World Championships in Halifax. We had a bit of a get together, family and friends, you know. It feels good to have designed for my country. I’m confident my pride in designing these sweaters is equal to those that will put it on. 


The three jerseys are very sharp. Can you talk about how you came up with the design for each and why the alternate was introduced? 
DY: Thank you. the design process was quite a long process actually. We (Nike & Hockey Canada) started the project around the first week of March 2007.  First, Hockey Canada approached Nike with a few initiatives they wanted to address (i.e.: a unique look, embracing historical hockey events our country has celebrated, and implementing key visual features from our past).

Second, as a proud sponsor, Nike obviously has a few technological initiatives to embrace as well, ventilation systems, player mobility, lightweight fabrication, etc. Then lastly, the inspiration I implemented titled “retrofuturism” (made famous by Ford VP of design J. Mays). The theory is quite basic. Twenty-first century technology meets the original visual DNA. For example, if you look closely at the 1970s Dodge Challenger and the new 2008 Challenger recently released, you'll see the visual similarities between the cars. It celebrates the heritage while incorporating a modern approach.

As for the alternate, Hockey Canada wanted to continue with an on-ice option for when visiting teams colours are close to ours.  However, they felt it was time to introduce a new colour, aside from black. 

What's the deal with the darker red on the third jersey? Is there any significance? 
DY: Hockey Canada wanted to introduce a new colour that had meaning. So I suggested a new secondary red. A darker red. Call it blood red. The blood of Canadians! 


Do you have anything to do with the design of the logos found on the jerseys? (Specifically, the Hockey Canada logo.) 
DY: Yes and no. I didn't design the Hockey Canada logo or the black third sweater heritage logo introduced in Salt Lake City. Those are Hockey Canada’s corporate logos that they have been using for years. It’s their mark. It's their identity. However, when speaking of the third, yes, I did design the modernized half leaf on the front and sleeves. 

Are there any hidden messages in the jerseys? More accurately, is there any special symbology that would interest jersey geeks like us? 
DY: It's obvious we're passionate about hockey, Chris, as I sliced my hand to make sure I had the right colour when selecting the swatch for the third. On the home and away, the stripes if counted together equal 10, representing [the] 2010 [Olympics] — which the sweaters were designed for.

Also regarding stripes, the third sweater's new half leaf incorporates six stripes, one for each player on the ice representing our country. Every design element has ties to our hockey heritage. That was the most important initiative of all. All three sweaters should look as though we've always been wearing them.

Now a few questions from Icethetics readers.

Dallas writes, "I would first like to say that the addition of the gold trim on the 2006 jerseys was really what drew me to them. While I see it on the 2008 design, it's not as prominent.  My question is will you continue to add the gold for the next 2010 design?" 
DY: Dallas, you're right. The gold is still on the hockey canada logo, however, toned down a touch. Canadians are pretty simplistic. I think it's more about being subtle than over the top this time around.

Blake writes, "Black is not an official Canadian colour and although I will allow black breezers to slide, it should have no place on our uniforms. So my question is when will Team Canada return to wearing only our national colours on our national uniforms?" 
DY: Blake I agree, and the answer is now. White, red, and Canadian blood red.  

Jason writes, "My question is about the placement of the arm patches. They're between the elbows stripes instead of the usual shoulder spot. I don't really mind it, just find it curious. Is there any special significance to this?"
DY: We wanted to have the stripes frame the mark. But on the third the mark makes it back to the top of shoulders.

Doug writes, "What design software do you use? Mac or PC? Do you have an online portfolio to check out other work that you have done?" 
DY: Hey Doug, the basic creative suite programs, you know Illustrator, Photoshop, etc. As for the online portfolio, not quite yet, but soon with crossed fingers.