Nostalgia. This phenomenon, this longing for the past that we knew or even thought we knew. It’s a warm feeling, bathed in faded colors and grainy photographs, TV static and cassette crackles.
At least, that’s my nostalgia, and that’s the wonderful thing about the concept; it lives in a constant state of flux. In the 1980s, pop culture longed for the juke-box, blue-suede 50s. In the 90s, we saw a revival of flower children from the 60s, and the 00s brought back the fever of the 70s. Thirty years of separation between each of these nostalgic trends it seems. Thirty years of living and growing. That’s where I stand. Thirty years of experiencing the ride of life. And in the late 2010s, that wave of nostalgia hit me like I’ve never been hit before.
I was working with my close friend on a music project, something I’ve attempted several times through countless genres since high school, and we were fixated on late 70s and 80s records at the time. The more we dug into the crates, the more we discovered this sound, this sensation that felt eerily familiar. A part of us swore we heard this before, even though our parents’ record collection contained few to none of these examples.
At the same time, we we’re working on the design aspect. We took inspiration from these same album covers and tried our best to recreate as well as modernize them. As we looked further into the methods with which these assets were created, we fell down the most serendipitous rabbit hole of our lives so far.
There was a new movement, a new fascination with the 80s like we’ve never seen before. We saw it in the form of outrun, vaporwave, synthwave, mallsoft, and countless other names. It applied to music, artwork, and even sensations. Blurry memories soaked in neon lights and cigarette smoke, sports cars and cereal commercials. The strange thing was, both of us were born in 1989, and a lot of these references were from years we weren’t even born yet. And yet, we knew them. We learned that the transience of modern day pop culture doesn’t parallel the condition and permanence of analog media.
This rediscovery sparked a flame within us, and lead us towards a path of foreign, yet familiar styles. At them same time, we were working on a program to educate fans about the comprehensive history of professional hockey logos. The more we worked on each project separately, the more they naturally intertwined. So I began to wonder, is there a retro-wave movement for sports?
The answer was complex. There was plenty of material from the wide world 80s and 90s athleticism, most of which came with what many would consider “cheesy” and “loud” outfits. Think of those aerobics tapes your parents most likely had lying around, or the facial hair styles of pro baseball and football players. This all fits the genre quite well, and as much as it captivated me, I was looking for a different angle.
In my continued search, I started getting warmer when I stumbled upon a new trend in this retro aesthetics, multi-faceted genre. There were new artists, individuals around my age group that understood this feeling better than anyone, and decided to take it upon themselves to recreate the past with modern techniques as well. I stumbled upon their social handles, where they showcased both their inspiration, as well as their original pieces. They would cover everything from album covers to magazine ads, movie posters to television idents. I realized that this was the segment of sports retro-wave that truly enthralled me.
During this time, I was also working on improving my skills with design work. I’d learned quite a good deal from this same friend, and I wanted to branch out and really see what I could do in a truly original space. One day at work, while scrolling through more of the aforementioned, retro sports material, something just clicked, and I knew exactly what I had to create.
After a couple of hours of design work, I had the basic idea, the bones of it. I was absolutely thrilled, but even more so, because I knew it wasn’t quite right yet. Usually when I have that feeling, I typically scrap it, but this design was different. I knew I had to keep going to perfect the design, and that’s exactly what I did.
That design ultimately became the RVHS Goalie Icon. It was a breakthrough. Never before had I felt like something I created could have longevity in my design repertoire. It was the perfect embodiment of what I consider to be both contemporary yet steeped in iconography of the past. There was a big question that remained though…what do I do with it?
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion, only on RVHS Hockey™.