Niko Alexander

Graphic Designer

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Golden Gopher Game Programs

My name is Niko Alexander. I recently graduated and began my first job after college as the Creative Services Intern with the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Athletic Dept. My plan for this class is to design a football program inspired by the great designs from the 1950's -1960's. 

Working as a designer in the sports field is an exciting field to be in. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is being surrounded by the incredible design work that has passed through this department. I love being able to look through old game guides, seeing the beatiful covers and awesome layouts. I could spend days looking through our archives and have been lucky to take some of the extra's home with me.

I love the variety of the design from these programs, from the black and white images to the cartoon mascots to the sign painterly scripts to the type-styles to the illustrations to the layouts, it's all so great. I can only hope that 50 years from now, some kid like me will look on our work today with the same appreciation that I do.

- Below, I'm just going to give some general observations from each of these program covers. I'm no expert, so if anything that I say is incorrect, feel free to correct me. 

1902 -  First thing I notice is the awesome negative space in the first program. That amount of space between the player and the ball really adds to the drama of an opening kickoff. There is some intricate detail in the players and banner. The piece feels very balanced and symmetrical. There is some variety in the size and style between the text that allows for breaks in the monotony. 

1919 - If I had to guess, I would say that this program looks the older of the two. This reminds me a lot of the old illuminated manuscripts and has a very woodcut-like quality. I don't know what MJA stands for but I'm assumming artists logo/mark. I think the ominous figure standing in the back is pretty intense. I wouldn't say that this is one of my favorites, but it's important to look at when examining these programs. 

1927 - Did you know that the University of Minnesota was the first college football team to have organized cheerleaders? I learned that from an NCAA football game. There are a lot of elements in this program that I enjoy. First, it's cool to see a program with an aspect of a football game besides just a player, and just look at how much energy that cheerleader has. Second, there is a ton of variety in the type design: the off-kilter "Homecoming" and "Gopher Goalpost, the script, the year spelt out on the bottom, the framing device and more. There is a lot going on, but doesn't feel too overpowering.

1928 - This might be one of my favorites.  The illustration is great, I love the texture. With the mass of bodies agaisnt that great faded background with the text interacting, the goal line scene feels larger than life. I really enjoy the type as well, with the inline for the title and that variation between the front and back strokes of the letterforms. I hate pull out the cliche Gatsby reference, but it just feels like something out of that era. 

Here we have two heisman poses from two diffferent decades.

1934 - There is something kind of strange about the perspective of the chain of players, but also brings some motion to the drawing. The lighting is super dramatic in the illustration, really awesome look. I think my favoirte part of the piece is the small logo/icon of the little brown jug in the 'M' in the Minnesota title, a cool little nod to the trophy game. 

1946 -  I found this shoved away in a box in a back room of my office. This was the only part I found and it was completely torn up, isn't that a shame? The guy's face is a little jacked, but otherwise it's a pretty cool drawing. I love the way the text is layed out on this cover. Usually, I'm not a fan of using the "Block M" as the beginning of Minnesota, but I think it works here. I love the combination of script, sans-serif, and then condensed type. However, my favorite part is the "1946" , it's really chunky and feels very sign-painterly. 

For some reason, we used to make game programs that had the opposing teams colors as the color scheme instead of Maroon and Gold. It really doesn't make sense to me, but maybe it looked cool lined up in a row.  

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