As the start of our 26th-anniversary celebration – which starts today on June 1, just two weeks shy of 26 years from the day that our group was founded in 1994 – we’re announcing the completion of our all-new ship logos:
The Image Collective – founded by FltCapt. Kali Nicholotti and currently led by FltCapt. Jalana Rajel, LtCmdr. Jo Marshall, and LtCmdr. Ayiana Sevo – has been on overdrive in the past few months, cooking up incredible designs for all kinds of things. I thought we’d bring together a roundtable of folks who worked on these, and past designs, to talk about the history of ship logos in the fleet.
In the interview below, you’ll hear from:
- Ens. Alieth of the Thor
- FltCapt. Jalana Rajel of the Constitution
- LtCmdr. Jo Marshall of the Gorkon
- FltCapt. Kalianna Nicholotti, playing Cmdr. Ash Tristan MacKenna on the Juneau
- Capt. Oddas Aria of the Juneau
WOLF: These new designs are really striking, so thank you for all your hard work on these! What was the impetus for these redesigns, and which ones did each of you work on?
ALIETH: Well, it all started out a little unplanned, to be honest. Ensign Sirok and I just agreed to remake Thor’s emblem as a small weekend pet project, as a way to welcome Kells as our new CO. The Collective loved it when I shared it with them and Jalana and Jo (if I recall it well) suggested that we should revamp all the current starships’ emblems in the same style to give them a coherent look… and here we are!
For my behalf, I have worked on the emblems of the Thor (alongside with Sirok), the Constitution-B, the Starbase 118 and the Juneau. I assisted Sirok a bit with the Veritas’ one, but that design is basically his job.
In any case, I consider this revamp a team effort, since I have received a lot of valuable feedback from other Collective members, and I have had some great resounding walls for my ideas there.
MARSHALL: For sure! Alieth’s designs were really inspirational, so when there was a chance of revamping the rest of the designs, it was a really cool project for the collective to sink their teeth into. I cracked on with the Atlantis design of the familiar trident inverted to look a bit squid-like, and we had to find a good emblem for the Gorkon — so the new one is based on the shuttlecraft Chancellor Gorkon uses in the movie.
It was a great challenge and had us all thinking outside the box for some design ideas. Alieth and Sirok just smashed it, doing the lion’s share of the project, and really did such an amazing job.
You both have been doing a lot of creative work outside of forum signatures and character portraits lately. What’s your graphic design background?
ALIETH: I’ve a Fine Arts Degree, specializing in graphic design and 3d modelling. I’ve been working as a graphic designer or 3d modeller in several companies since 2009, but I’ve established myself as a freelance illustrator for the past 2-3 years more or less.
MARSHALL: I’ve no formal education in it at all. I did some graphic design back in college for a movie project, got really into Adobe Photoshop, and carried on with it. I did bits and pieces when the mood took me and the moon was full, and then when I joined SB118, jumped back into it. Since then, I’ve been messing about on Illustrator some more.
FltCapt. Nicholotti, you were the original designer of our legacy versions of these badges. I still remember emailing you years ago to ask what you thought about creating flags and badges for each ship. Tell us a little about how you approached designing these badges originally?
NICHOLOTTI: Originally the project started with team logos, in an attempt to unify the teams under a banner, so to speak, and to offer more for our website as we transitioned to far more graphically diverse pages. When I began, I took a lot of inspiration from mission patches used in our modern-day space program, incorporating words around the edges and relevant images in the middle. When two of these ‘patches’ became three, and three became one for each ship in a very short period of time, the need to streamline the process became apparent. Not only did this make for a uniform look, but it offered diversity at the same time that came across as professional and unique. You wouldn’t find something like this anywhere else, in any group, or any other place online.
FltCapt. Rajel, you picked up the mantle with these legacy ship badges and have been working on them for some time now. What was it like collaborating with our captains to create them when we launched new ships?
RAJEL: I enjoyed making the older ship badges, give them their own character and set a tone with them. It was a great chance to get to know the new COs when their ships launched, get to see a piece of their ideas and creativity. Bouncing ideas back and forth for the creation of details, working with what the COs had in mind, seeing these ideas come to life and finally seeing the excitement in the COs for their final badge designs was extremely satisfying.
FltCapts. Rajel and Nicholotti, any favorite or particularly memorable designs stick out in your mind?
NICHOLOTTI: I think rather than which one stuck out in my mind, it was what part of the process of creation stuck in my mind. The opportunity to work with each of the Captains, team members, and those who had a vested interest in the patches/logos was the part I truly enjoyed the most. I started by being able to talk with each and see what their ship or team was to them. I was able to learn more than what you could read on the surface page for their ship. Then, I learned their color scheme and was able to put together something that was always pleasing. That was probably the most fun I had with the image group as a whole.
RAJEL: There is a story behind every single one of them, the way the CO and I collaborated on ideas, how we picked things apart to make them better, or how it just clicked. I really like all the ship badges I worked on, so it is impossible to pick a favourite or most memorable. They all are.
Capt. Oddas, one of the things we discussed in a lot of detail was the design for the Juneau’s badge, which honors the Tlingit people, one of the indigenous peoples of Southeast Alaska. Can you tell us about the inspiration for this badge?
ODDAS: Having lived in Juneau for some time I decided I wanted to name a starship after the area, and after that decision was made it just made sense to work the Tlingit people into the design of the ship and the badge. The Tlingit are organized into various clans with those in the Juneau area belonging primarily to the ‘Eagle’ and the ‘Raven’ moieties.
Using the ‘Eagle’ for the patch was a nice way to provide some continuity with the previous ship the Captain was involved with, but also represents the unity the people have with each other and the land. I like to think there is a USS Sitka out there with a Raven on the patch to go along with the Juneau’s Eagle.
Ens. Alieth, we really left the Juneau’s badge for last as we had those considerations around formline designs inspired by indigenous artwork. Can you tell me more about the guidelines set by the Sealaska Heritage Institute that you worked from and how you crafted the design?
ALIETH: Aria shared some of the Sealaska Heritgae Institute‘s documents [PDF] with me, and they have some wonderful guidelines on the how and why of each Tlingit design shape and how to use them. I took the key formline design shapes upon which her designs are built and tried to create something around them, seeking to be as accurate as possible to their spirit and how they relate to each other, but keeping away from their traditional eagles’ portrayals to avoid falling into the cultural appropriation of their art. The intention was to pay homage to their culture and tradition without being disrespectful to them.
Once the basic shapes were established, I started sending several “works in progress” to Aria to check that the design was correct and to their liking, always trying to keep the elements we had used in the other emblems (the background with stars in reference to the Federation flag, and so on). I think he got fed up with me that day! (laughs)
The choice of the eagle as a logo was Aria’s idea mostly, to maintain the idea that the USS Juneau is the direct heir of the USS Eagle.
As a background colour, I proposed to Aria some versions that reproduced the traditional colours of Tlinging art (mainly red, white and black) to maintain that identity as well.
Thanks for your time everyone!