A Boston Dream for the New England Revolution

I’m still waiting to become a New England Revolution die-hard. They won’t get me until they move into the city; the team is on record as wanting such a move, but in almost two decades, nothing beyond some shuffling of papers has happened.

That hasn’t stopped me (and many others) from dreaming about what a beautiful urban soccer stadium could do for our city. Boston would instantly - mark my words, from day one - become one of the most passionate fan bases in North America. The Revolution would be a cultural happening in the city, and matches would be events. Boston is a soccer town waiting to be unleashed.

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Three Limited US Soccer World Cup Prints

The World Cup is a great excuse to design. My apparel shop, Clean Sheet Co., has you covered for shirts; now I’ve worked up something for your wall too. Just in time for the USA’s run in the 2014 World Cup, I’m pleased to announce a very cool collaboration: three USMNT-inspired poster prints - one for each opening round game - designed by me and hand-printed by the artisans at Boston’s renowned AntiDesigns studio.

USA vs Ghana 

click to order USA vs. Ghana at shop.mwillis.com
order USA vs Ghana here

USA vs. Portugal 

click to order USA vs. Portugal at shop.mwillis.com
order USA vs Portugal here

USA vs. Germany 

click to order USA vs. Germany at shop.mwillis.com
order USA vs Germany here

Each hand-pulled, edge-to-edge screen printed poster measures 11” x 17”, and is brought to life with gallery-quality inks on beautiful 100 lb. Speckletone stock by French Paper.

These prints are extremely limited - I’m working with AntiDesigns to make a small initial run, and only 39 prints of each match will be available. You can grab individual matches or order all three as a set; single match prints are just $25, and a set of all three is a pretty good deal at $60. Pre-orders are now open at shop.mwillis.com, and we’ll ship them during the World Cup (end of June / beginning of July).

If you’re a fan of US Soccer, or know someone who is, you might just want one - or even all three.

A Red Sox Patriots’ Day Concept

The Red Sox use a special “Boston” jersey on Patriots’ Day.  As a Bostonian, I love the sentiment; why not go one step farther? For one day, dress in Boston Athletic Association colors, sell the jerseys and hats, and give the proceeds to relevant charities. 

Hey, maybe next year. Best wishes to all of the Marathon participants and this lovely city I call home. Go Sox!

Identity Sketches for the San Jose Earthquakes

I design because it’s fun and satisfying - but I also design as a form of communicating critique. This isn’t necessarily because I’ve found a perfect – or even, better – approach to an existing brand; it’s mostly because when it comes to discussions of identity, visuals communicate much more clearly than words ever could. After all, if you’re responding to something visual; why not craft a visual response? Why not express yourself on the same terms the brand does?

The best way to criticize a movie is to make another movie.
Jean-Luc Godard

I created refreshed identities for the New England Revolution and the Columbus Crew with this principle in mind.  Both of those brands continue to use old, out of favor design language that could stand some fresh thought. In one of those cases, help is on the way; in another, the potential for change is still at least, er, theoretically possible. I’ve also done some visual thinking about New York City FC, a brand which has since defined itself in a rather dignified (if heavily inspired) manner. ‘Critique by design’ is the best way I know how to get new identity concepts across - concepts that may begin with visuals, but usually extend to the way a team presents itself and carries itself.  A well-conceived brand takes on a personality, and becomes a living thing – but the process invariably starts with a foundation of solid design work.

Today, I’m offering a visual critique of the San Jose Earthquakes, a soccer brand that, much like the Revs and the Crew, had good reason to re-imagine their visual identity.

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Identity Sketches for the Columbus Crew

Author’s note: Given yesterday’s San Jose Earthquakes rebranding, this morning seemed like a good time to run this piece, which has been in the works for a little bit. 


Currently, you’d hear something like this:

“…Well, so - they’re yellow, I think. And Columbus - that’s like, football country, right? Ohio State 24/7, that kind of deal? Do they get into soccer over there? Oh - wait - right, it’s the team with that beefcake logo with the angry dudes on it. What’s up with that thing? Are those guys a ‘crew’? Ha ha… They still have a team, right?”

What you’d want to hear, of course, is something like this:

“I don’t even really watch a ton of soccer but that Crew game blew me away. The fans are just insane - it comes right through the TV. Yellow and black everywhere - it was wild. I was just flipping around and I couldn’t change the channel. I gotta get that jersey.”

If you ask an average American sports fan “What do you know about the Columbus Crew?”, I imagine you’d get all kind of answers. I’m not claiming to speak for anyone specific with the above composites, but I’d wager that the average response would skew a little closer to the first one than the second.

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