What would the family crests of famous figures look like today? Iconic graphic designer and Skillshare teacher Aaron Draplin has joined forces with the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies to find out.

When you think of a coat of arms you likely think of knights and castles, not to mention royal families that are now extinct. But in its essence, heraldry is storytelling through graphic design. In an attempt to shine a light on this old-school art, designer and teacher Aaron Draplin, challenged his community of students to reimagine heraldic family crests for famous figures, iconic fictional characters, influential families, and artistic legends.

Traditionally, there were strict criteria governing the creation and design of family crests. To give our contest some cred, we tapped the experts at the prestigious Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, based in the ancient city of Canterbury, England to pick their favorite submissions and crown a winner.

Checkout our shortlist of winners below!

Want to design your own crest? Join Aaron Draplin’s class Logo Design with Draplin: Secrets of Shape, Type and Color today!

WINNER: The Addams Family

The Institute comments:

“Not only does it look like a real, historical, coat of arms, but the whole design is well thought-out, and the symbolism of the charges [emblems or devices occupying the field of the escutcheon, or shield] is good and clear.

We commend the stark simplicity of black & white colours for this particular coat of arms.


The Institute comments:

“A well-thought-out design with conservative use of colours (while divided about the green colouring, we do understand why it was used).

The symbolism of the charges is immediately understandable. Featuring Shrek’s ears on the shield is an interesting innovation.”

THIRD PLACE: Saul Goodman

The Institute comments:

“An interesting design, showing good use of colour. The symbolism of the charges is generally very clear (although we’re not totally certain about the significance of the necktie!).”


SHORTLISTED: The Flintstones

The Institute comments: “Excellent artwork, and very good symbolism of the charges.”



SHORTLISTED: Michael Jordan


SHORTLISTED: The Skywalker family

While heraldic crests might not be something you think about every day, as you can see from these projects, it’s still an art form with much to say about our cultural climate. Dr. Richard Baker, Principle of the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies explains:

“Heraldry is a visually attractive reminder of our history, culture, and heritage; it uses symbols and patterns to identify individual people. Heraldry has been used and displayed for almost nine-hundred years, and time and again has helped with historical and genealogical interpretation, and to identify owners of artifacts and works of art.”

“Because its expression is pictorial, heraldry can transcend national and linguistic boundaries and be accessible to people of all nations.”

While the contest is over, it’s not too late to learn the skills required to create your own crest! Join Aaron Draplin’s class, Logo Design with Draplin: Secrets of Shape, Type and Color today!

Written By

Brooke Young

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