Tabitha Kerbabian

Letterer & Graphic Designer

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The Gurash & Kerbabian Family Crest

PROJECT BACKGROUND
My mom's side of the family (Gurash) is Ukrainian, and my dad's side of the family (Kerbabian) is Armenian.

I struggled for a while when deciding what to call my family for the purpose of this project because my parents are divorced, so the "Gurash-Kerbabian family" doesn't actually exist. Though my brother Ara and I share my dad's last name, using that alone wouldn't acknowledge my mom's side of the family. I decided to make a family crest for my brother and I, which will represent our childhood memories and everything we love about both sides of our family.

I knew this project would be fun, but what I didn't expect was all of the nostalgia, gratitude, and joy it would bring. My Baba passed away earlier this month. In fact, all of my grandparents have now left this world, so this process of reflecting on family memories has been really good for me.

Here's a glimpse at my family tree:

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Mema is Armenian for grandma, Dede for grandpa. Baba is Ukranian for grandma, Dido for grandpa. My dad Haroutioun and his three brothers all go by English names too, but I wanted to use their real names here.

RESEARCH
I started by writing down everything I could think of for each side of the family, from favourite traditional foods, to holiday celebrations and family traditions, to all the places that each family has lived. I also wrote down memories of specific family members that didn't necessarily tie into family history / culture.

I proceeded to search Google Images and Pinterest for inspiration images. I also flipped through a couple articles about heraldry I remembered reading in UPPERCASE issue 23, the calligraphy & lettering issue.

These are the pages of images I pulled for reference:

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I knew some Armenian dishes like the one in the top left would be hard to represent in a simplified logo form, so I pulled images of key ingredients like parsley and chickpeas too. Also pictured above are traditional onion-skin-dyed Armenian Easter eggs, a wheat laurel and wheat sprigs in a field (the Ukrainian flag is blue for sky and yellow for wheat fields), traditional Ukrainian patterns, both Ukrainian and Armenian Easter breads (paska and choereg), and the alphabets and coat of arms of both countries.

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Beautiful hand-painted Ukrainian Easter eggs (pysanky), pierogies (pyrohy), more traditional patterns, the national symbol and gorgeous churches in the Ukraine, and a contemporary crest for a business.

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Another contemporary crest, a simplified version of an older crest, lots of laurels, and the Canadian flag.


SKETCHES

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Rough sketches of chickpeas, a pyrohy, patterns, crest shapes, parsley, wheat, bread, and a candle (not pictured before, but I thought of it because my mom's side is quite spiritual and it also represents my memory of going to Ukrainian Catholic church growing up).

DIGITAL PROCESS

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Super proud of my wheat laurels!

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Playin' around.

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Thanks for the crest shapes, sir! It was very helpful to see how they were formed as well. Great resource. Here, I was working on different placements for the laurels and which combinations of shapes worked best.

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Pyrohy shapes! (Pyrohy is Ukrainian for pierogies)

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Makin' some chickpeas and some parsley. Key ingredients for my favourite Armenian foods. :)

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Final food shapes ... for now

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Testing out typefaces to take a break from the food shapes. It's better to come back to something with "fresh eyes" when you've been working on it for a long time. You can see here that I decided to go with "Gurash & Kerbabian" instead of "the Gurash-Kerbabian family" because it's more acurate.


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Using Aaron's handy spot spacing trick for consistency.

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Tracing the perfect egg-shaped oval!

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Making some digital pysanky. I'm much better at this than the real thing, although I do want to master it some day. It's the most difficult art I've ever tried my hand at.

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This is the basic layout of everything together. Some things are not sitting quite right... somehow I managed to have different sized strokes here and there so I'll be fixing that.

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Testing out some crazy gaudy full colour crests using ALL of the colours from both family flags + grey. I actually like the one with the black strokes. The grey is a nice colour but it just adds noise instead of bringing everything together.


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I figured it would be best to stick with monochrome or single colour. I was really set on using the yellow for the wheat laurels because I'm worried that they (or other symbols, for that matter) aren't as clear without their real-life colours. Maybe that doesn't matter.

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BAM! Final family crest in black and white. The pysanky being inverted here give the illusion of thinner strokes than the rest of the shapes, but they are the same. Let me know if you think it's worth adjusting!

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I really loved those pysanky in colour, so I decided to make separate tribute images for each family.

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I used dingbats to for the floral shapes in the middle of each egg.

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Colour testing for the Kerbabian image.

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Trying out a different style.

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These are my final choices for each family tribute image.

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I really wanted to do a colour crest that represented both families / both flags without being gaudy, so I used the blue from each flag to create a monochromatic crest. I started with the one on the left but decided it would look nicer with the darker outline.

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These are the final black & white and colour versions! I added a "shaded" part to each banner. To sumarize:

  • I've represented both sides of my family (hence the two separate surnames)
  • the laurels are wheat sprigs (a nod to the Ukrainian flag, which is blue for sky and yellow for wheat fields)
  • top left are parsley leaves and chickpeas - two key ingredients in my favourite Armenian foods
  • top right are pysanky (hand-painted Ukrainian Easter eggs)
  • bottom left is a heart with the word 'hokis' inside - my dad calls my brother and I hokis which means my soul / my beloved. To my understanding it's actually slang but easily my favourite Armenian word.
  • bottom right is a pierogi! (In Ukrainian, pierogies are called pyrohy)

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Tshirt mockups made using Illustrator templates from The Vector Lab. :)



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