Founded in 1970, the Portland Trail Blazers celebrate their 50th anniversary this season. The organization is commemorating its golden anniversary with a game day poster series featuring a new design from local artists every home game.
Kyle Van Cleave, designer/illustrator from The Dalles, was one of 40 artists chosen to contribute to this year’s posters. The series began in the 2017-2018 season and raises money for the Trail Blazers Foundation which helps underserved families, nonprofit organizations and schools across Oregon and southwest Washington.
The poster was unveiled Dec. 8 during the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Van Cleave said he had mixed feelings when he found out he was chosen to design a poster.
“Back in the end of August the Blazers reached out to us,” Van Cleave said. “There was some excitement and some trepidation about doing it. Sports fans can be pretty harsh especially without having a lot of context. For this poster series the Blazers marketing team really wanted individualism and originality to show through.”
Inspiration for the poster came from the iconic Mickey Mouse wristwatch and Damian Lillard’s ability to score in the crucial final seconds of a game. The team’s 50th anniversary is commemorated in the date section of the watch’s face.
Van Cleave’s signature cartoon/character designs were also incorporated into the poster.
“Anybody who watches the Blazers knows who Damian Lillard is. Anybody who knows who Damian Lillard is knows he’s pretty clutch at the end of games and they have coined that ‘Dame Time,’” Van Cleave said. “I decided to do a wristwatch in the theme of an old Mickey Mouse style watch with his hands rolling around. But instead, it’s the Blazers’ mascot and all the numbers are zeros. So, it was kind of a ‘Dame Time’ theme.”
The poster doesn’t have an official name but is affectionately referred as “Dame Time” by fans, Van Cleave said. Reception has been great as well, he said.
During the game Van Cleave presented a copy signed by the entire team to a season ticket holder. 10 other posters were signed, auctioned off and given to management.
After being featured on the Jumbotron Van Cleave was walking back to his seat when he was stopped and praised with high-fives by multiple fans.
This opportunity came in the right time for Van Cleave’s design studio. Wild Giant Studio set a goal aiming to establish their presence locally.
“2019 was a year we really wanted to expand a little bit more of our work and our reach,” Van Cleave said. “Being from The Dalles we’ve never done anything locally. We do a lot of contract work for bigger brands and other design firms. This worked out with us wanting to put ourselves out there in the community more. So, this felt like a good first step to help with that process.
“This one was near and dear and with the opportunity to help with some charity it was something we thought was the right time and the right fit,” Van Cleave said.
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