Artist profile: Crew fan begins grassroots logo project

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From the January 30, 2014 edition

How much do you love your favorite team? Sure, Buckeye Nation has fervent supporters (unless they lose a game), but that’s more of a culturally ingrained Ohio thing — unless you’re one of those contrarian-just-for-the-sake-of-it jackasses who lives in Ohio and roots for Michigan.

So I guess I’m speaking to diehard fans of the non-OSU persuasion; Blue Jackets, Browns, Reds (possibly even “Stiller” fans in town), etc. who aren’t among the masses in rooting on their team. How far would you go to show support for your squad?

Would you test the limits of your creative abilities? Dedicate most — if not all — of your spare time to it? Think about trying to get new supporters through unconventional means?

Doubt it.

Well, local freelance designer Justin Bell is such a strong fan of the Columbus Crew, and soccer in general, that he’s committed the entire month of February to designing logos for the team. Bell will create a new design of the Crew crest each day of the month. No, he’s not contracted by owner Anthony Precourt, who’s stated his interest in a new crest, possibly as early as next year. He’s doing it because he wants to.

“I have no delusions that [the organization] would ever pick one of them. That’s not the goal here,” Bell said of his project.

The goals relate to creating support for the Crew. Bell is a founder of Massive City, a Crew supporters group, and the driving force behind the #TIFOSWEAT movement that is looking to showcase their fandom in original and unique ways.

“The creative aspect is a real part of soccer worldwide; how fans express themselves in creative ways. Some of what you see around the world is just mind-blowing,” Bell said. “One thing about Columbus that’s been bubbling under the surface in terms of soccer support is people who feel like they should be able to make things that express that, whether it’s being a fan or just civic pride for Columbus.”

Bell’s #TIFOSWEAT effort resulted in a massive banner for September’s match between the U.S. Men’s National Team and Mexico at Crew Stadium. He also designed a cover for an Alive issue previewing the game that was featured on Fox Soccer.

Massive City is moving out of the Nordecke and into the south end (to be named Capital Side possibly) next season for four games. The move’s seen as a way to better showcase their creative efforts, including banners similar to the one for the U.S. vs. Mexico game — possibly stemming from Bell’s February work.

So what will Bell create with his 28 designs? It runs the gamut from traditional soccer crests to more abstract and even some kind of out-there ideas. The out-there ideas — this reporter’s personal favorites — include logos inspired by James Thurber or Roy Lichtenstein art.

Bell will also design logos with throwback sensibilities, a ’70s-era design or even dating back to the early 20th Century since international soccer clubs have been around that long. For the more traditional designs, Bell will make sure to represent the city and include the word “Columbus,” since it’s not in the current crest.

The project is also asking for other Crew fans, designers, whoever to submit designs through the Massive City website (massivecityffc.com) or Facebook page (facebook.com/massivecityffc). Alive will post a weekly roundup of all the designs on our website. So get working Columbus, although coming up with something cooler than a Thurber or Lichtenstein-inspired crest is going to be tough.