Harper Family Crest | Skillshare Projects

Gareth Harper

Designer, Animator & Videographer



Harper Family Crest

Like many families, mine is a little complicated.

I recently got married to my wonderful wife Athena, and so through her I’ve gained two new parents.
On top of this, my parents divorced and both remarried to amazing people during my teenage years.
As such, I’ve amassed a pretty sweet collection of parents, grandparents and family lore.

So, the first big decision I had to make with this project was: which bit of the family to focus on?

Eventually, I decided to make this project about the Harper family - my Dad’s side of the family - and the bit of the family that just gave my new Wife her new surname.
This project seemed a great opportunity to learn from a genius like Aaron Draplin; but also an opportunity to show my wife our family’s stories, myths and legends.

I chatted to my Dad and reminisced with my brother to see what themes and ideas came up from discussing our family.


Three key themes kept jumping out at me as I scribbled and sketched ideas out: places, music and sport.

• The last couple of Harper generations have been based in the beautiful county of Gloucestershire, England.

• Before that, my grandparents originally hailed from London; which is brought neatly full circle by the newest member of the family - my wife - also being born and raised in London.

• At the heart of Gloucestershire is my hometown of Gloucester, and it’s most famous landmark - Gloucester Cathedral. Bits of this building have been standing since the 670s AD, which blows my mind slightly. It holds a significant place in the city, and in our family. Both myself and my brother were blessed to live with our Mum and Stepdad right next to the Cathedral, and we both worked our first jobs in the gift shop there, selling pencils and postcards to little old ladies. To me, it’s also an enduring symbol of God’s love for the city I grew up in. So it’s got to play a prominent part in our new family crest.

• Gloucestershire also has an uncharacteristically crazy flag. The county council changed it to something really boring in a design contest a couple of years ago, but the traditional flag of Gloucestershire is awesome. I bought one, and used to fly it over my tent at music festivals. And yes, those sheep are being weighed. I don’t know if they’re dead or not. Those bright reds, yellows, blues and greens will probably influence my colour scheme.

• I grew up on a road called Lilac Way, so the lilac flower will probably influence the family crest’s wreath. The wreath will also be a nod to my amazing Grandma who was literally an award winning gardener. Seriously, her garden was packed full of beautiful flowers and she was winning national awards for it, and she still used to just let me and my brother play football in it. Amazing woman.

• Our family is from Gloucestershire, with a hefty dose of London in the mix as well. One of the obvious enduring design elements of London - and the one that I’ve been slightly obsessed with since I was a kid - is the branding surrounding London public transport. I absolutely love the classic Johnson font used on London public transport, and the updated version from a few years back - especially the shape of that “O” so I was keen to pick a font that emulated some of the qualities of Johnson. Having worked with it and loved it before, I plumped for good old Brandon Grotesque in the end.

• One final geography inspired flourish that I’d like to add in somewhere is a Nightingale. A nod to the road that my wife grew up on: Nightingale Road.



• Music is kind of a big deal in my family. Our name is literally a word for a harp player.
I even did a music degree, before I got pleasantly distracted by design.

• We’re a family mainly comprised of brass players: I’m a trumpet player, my Dad is a trumpet player, his Dad was a trumpet player…and I’m not kidding we go back to Victorian times on that front. My Aunt is a horn player and amazing composer and arranger. My Brother is a guitarist and has dabbled in brass as well.

• Then my Dad married my lovely Stepmum, who plays the flute. And would you believe, it my Wife is a flautist as well.

• My Dad and Stepmum often debate with each other which is better: flute or trumpet. I think they're joking, but I can never quite tell. In any case, this gave me the idea to have a flute and trumpet “crossing swords” with each other in the crest.


• For no real reason at all, except for the heroic exploits of Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Temuri Ketsbaia, plus the fact that our childhood friends were very persuasive, both myself and my brother support Newcastle United. Their crest is probably one of the most familiar crests in my life, so the shape and layout of our new family crest was always going to be fairly influenced by this.

• On top of football, my brother and I were obsessed with basketball as kids, and we both represented Gloucester to a fairly decent standard, even if I do say so myself.

• My Dad was also a fairly keen cricketer - as was my brother - and there are plenty of family legends about my Dad’s antics with a cricket ball; including a school record he held until 2009, and the time that he played against a young Ian Botham.



The final element I needed to work on was deciding on our new family motto.

• After going through a bunch of in-jokes (mainly involving teasing my brother about how much he likes cheese and potatoes together), I settled on “Pleasant and Brave”.

• I did a bit of Googling of our family motto and the meaning of our family name, whilst I was researching, and Wikipedia said that our name is of Scottish origin and means "pleasant and brave”.

•Whether that’s true or not, I’m claiming it.

• In December 2015, my Grandma passed away after a long battle with illness, and if there was anybody who embodied simultaneous pleasantness and bravery, it was her.

A couple of other ideas entered the process whilst I was experimenting, but eventually I discarded them, because they either didn’t work or because I felt other things better represented our family.

• Mainly music based things (Planets - a nod to Gustav Holst, a Gloucestershire composer. My wife and I now live, in our first home together, on a road named after him).

• Also, occupation based things (my Dad and his Dad were both builders, so I played with bricks and trowels for a bit).

Getting Down To Business


The Finished Product





Thanks Aaron and Skillshare, for a brilliant class. I've learnt so much and thoroughly enjoyed it!
If anybody's got any feedback or suggestions on how I could tweak this, then I'm all ears!


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