Drew Elrick Design
Designed for the Finish Line
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That one time a lady tattooed my logo on her back.

If you've spent any time looking through my work, you'll notice that design for sports is a passion and focus of mine. As a very casually competitive runner and cyclist, I love creating art for races and teams in the multisport industry. Over the past few years, I've gotten to make a lot of fun work with my buddy Craig who runs an awesome race management company called Lighthouse Events in the Milwaukee area. If you're a runner or triathlete, you should sign up for one of their fantastic races, including the Winter Run Series. Snow, ice, and frigid temps can't stop thousands of Wisconsinites from running all through the winter months.

One of their big events is called the Washington Island Ultra Races, which takes place on an island in Lake Michigan and a bunch of crazy triathletes compete to see who can complete the most triathlon cycles in 8, 12, 24, and 36 hour periods. Pretty cool.

A few weeks ago, Craig texted me a photo of one of the athletes who came up to him and proceeded to show him her new tattoo.


Tri Logo Tattoo

Why is that shocking to me? Because I designed that mark. (Or at least the basis for that mark before the tattoo artist's liberties.) And she had it permanently etched into her skin.

*Timeout* I know it's not a great logo. I was young, less experienced, and made it way too fast without a strong concept or peer review. I'll save you the critique and affirm that the typography isn't great, the skull is pretty rough, the "racing stripes" behind the skull don't work. I get it. I cringe when I look at it. But, I like to think I've gotten better since. If you're a designer, you probably can relate when looking at your early work.

My point is, something must have happened to her at a deep level on that race course that made her want to commemorate that event forever. That's what I love about sports design. The passion that people have around their teams or their training or their fanaticism is amazing. To play a part in telling compelling visual stories that give people an image to represent a deep emotional connection is a privilege and responsibility. If I take anything away from this experience, it's to design like someone will ink themselves with this art. Make stuff worthy of that!

And tattooed tri lady: I think I did a much better job on this year's event logo. If you're racing again, I think it'd look pretty cool in ink.


Drew Elrick