Grafik Building Awareness for the Matthew Shepard Foundation Erase Hate Skateboard.

Building Awareness for the Matthew Shepard Foundation

For the past 5 years, I’ve recruited our designers here at Grafik to help promote a grass roots event I co-chair in Rehoboth Beach called “Erase Hate.” It’s a benefit supporting the Matthew Shepard Foundation with the goal of spreading a message of understanding, compassion and acceptance.

Each year we’ve seen the event grow in both attendance as well as in dollars raised. Last year, the Foundation adopted the logo Grafik’s James Wilson created (see below); it’s now on several items in their online store. The logo merges hand-drawn type with a powerful message—hatred isn’t something you are born with, it is something that is taught. The striking red line through the word “Hate” symbolizes three things: the blood shed by Matthew Shepherd, the power of erasing hatred from one’s heart, and the love and passion of a mother who lost her son too soon.

Erase Hate Logo

This year, our 5th annual event is expanding. I’m most excited about a new event designed to engage a younger audience. It’s called, “Skate Don’t Hate” and will be held at the new Epworth Skatepark designed by Evergreen Skateparks— it features live music and a skateboarding contest. Come join us; or if you can’t make it out to the beach, please consider a donation.

To get the ball rolling, I asked one of our youngest designers, Raksa Yin, to help design the promotions. To promote deeper engagement, we thought to go beyond marketing materials and design a custom skateboard that would go to the winner. Finally, after reviewing many a young designer’s portfolio with the obligatory skateboard design done as a school project, here was a chance to actually create one—and be on strategy!

Let Raksa tell you the details:

Gregg: How did you approach the design for Skate Don’t Hate?

Raksa: As a team, we landed on the idea that the skateboard should be our focal point. From there, lots of research—Pinterest board, 80+ images, read about the skating culture and board artwork, researched the Matthew Shepard Foundation. I love handwritten type (although it’s not my strength), and saw that board art tended to fill the entire skateboard. I decided to use the powerful mission statement of the Foundation. Choosing a type rather than an illustrative approach was a big challenge for me—it’s a lot of words in a narrow dimension. With that in mind, I researched typography styles including graffiti, brush script, modernist and metallic.

Gregg: Your first designs had a good idea brewing, but your next design review clearly still had something missing. The design wasn’t holding together as a complete illustration. How did you power through that critique to the final solution?

Raksa: I went back to my mood board, and I thought about what type of art truly uses the whole canvas. I recalled studying Mayan and Aztec art in my art history classes. Their art filled the space. I took my inspiration from that, knowing full well that was not my strongest skill set. I decided to take a weakness of mine and turn it into the strength of this piece—I’m so glad I took the risk.

Gregg: It’s been nearly 14 years since Matthew Shepard was killed. Before designing these pieces, what did you know about Matthew and the Foundation?

Raksa: I had heard the name but didn’t know the circumstances of his death. After going to the foundation’s website and reading the whole story, how could you not keep going on the project until it was right?

Gregg: Raksa, I’m very proud of the work you’ve created and thankful to you.

Raksa: Thanks for the opportunity.

Skate Don't Hate Team

Skate Don't Hate Team Photo


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