In late 2010 I began ThePensandthepen, a standalone WordPress blog, to combine my two greatest passions: the Pittsburgh Penguins and creativity. I wanted to focus on writing hockey-themed articles, sharing fan art, and providing a family-friendly platform for fans of all walks of life. As I began preparing for my graduate studies at Duquesne University I decided to convert it to a Facebook fan page. My goal was to give fans from all over the world the in-arena experience; to make them feel as though they were sitting right next to me for every big save and incredible goal.
The color scheme was a no-brainer: black and gold to match the team colors and a shimmering stainless steel gradient as a tribute to Mellon Arena's infamous dome.
When it came to the logo I wanted something fun and personable; something that would be recognizable and memorable, and something that would immediately bring back memories of hockey nights in Pittsburgh under the dome.
I also wanted something with a playful, welcoming vibe. With such vitriolic content and hateful comments on other hockey pages, I wanted ThePensandthepen to be different. I wholeheartedly agree that hockey is for everyone and I wanted my page - and the logo - to embody that ideal.
After the Penguins were eliminated from playoff contention in 2018 we followed along with the Vegas Golden Knights and beloved former Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Reaves. A mid-game GIF created such a buzz - reaching more than 1.1M users on FB - that our following doubled in a matter of days and garnered tens of thousands of reactions and shares.
I tapped into our shared love of the dearly-departed goalie, as well as the deeply-seated hatred of the Washington Capitals, and using playful wording (for example every post during that time avoided capital letters #nocaps) and creative use of trending hashtags I grew our following by more than 100% and our engagement absolutely exploded.
Nothing consistenly generates as much reach and attention to our community as the wallpapers I make.
This one, released around the time of the eighth season of Game of Thrones celebrates the Penguins clinching a playoff spot. The five stars atop the shield represent the five Stanley Cups the Penguins have won. The black represents the primary color of their home jerseys. The Golden Triangle is a tribute to Pittsburgh and the steel is a nod to the aluminum roof of the Mellon Arena.
A passion project of mine is delving deep into the rich tapestry of Pitsburgh's hockey history. The story of the WPHL inspired me to create this retro jersey mockup of the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. I believe that teaching hockey fans about the players and teams of hockey's earliest days combined with unique, vibrantly-designed jerseys that capitalize on the retro jersey theme, will grow the game like a 24-hour stream of Sidney Crosby's greatest plays would. A timeline and mockup of several more jerseys is currently in the works.
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