The State of HBCU Sports is at a crossroads. To honest, attendance is down at games, schools like Hampton are leaving there conferences due to travel or financial needs, with the like of Aspire Television, and ESPN giving minimal exposure for games, becomes increasingly hard to gain viewership and attract recruits to even attend these Universities and Colleges. With Black Awareness at an all time high this is the perfect opportunity to bring attention to HBCU’S. With the resurgence of “Different World” and the Hit Show “ The Quad” which deals the Campus life, which includes Sports, of HBCU’s. Yet, more is needed.
In our day to day of making sure Indie Soul Magazine is visible on Social Media Platforms, we found one such person who is interested in putting his mark on HBCU’S, by offering to redesign the look of how teams look on the football field by redesigning their helmets. James Jones is his name and Graphic Arts is his game.
ISM: Explain your Background when it comes to Graphic Arts?
JONES:”My background in Graphic Arts starts from a love for art as a kid. Since I was interested in computers growing up, I thought it would be a good Idea to study computer science in college.My first year of college I attended New Mexico State University, where I also played football. After a few coaching changes I was able to leave and earn a scholarship to play for Morgan State University under Coach Donald Hill. I quickly learned that after a few computer science classes at Morgan that I did not enjoy, it made more sense to utilize the creative side of my brain while still being able to use a computer.I later graduated from Morgan State University with a degree in Graphic Design. Like most artists, leaving college and going into the real world to find a job in the creative field was a huge struggle.”
“Two years after after graduating I was able to land a Graphic Designer Job with ShopRite the grocery store. After a year I got offered an opportunity to work as a paid intern for Hearst Business Media in New York City as a graphic designer for Floor Covering Weekly Magazine. At this time my schedule was; wake up at 5:30 am, catch the New Jersey Transit Train to Penn Station in New York at 7:30 am to start work at 9:00 am. I would work from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. After 12:00 pm, I would then run to catch the train back to Edison, New Jersey to work for ShopRite from 3:00 pm to 11:00 pm. This continued for a year until I landed a job as a Lead Graphic Designer for Rodman Publishing in New Jersey. There I was the lead designer for INK Magazine, Coatings World Magazine, Label & Narrow Web Magazine and Print Electronics Magazine. After a year there I was offered the opportunity to be a designer for Forever Collectibles, which is the company that is known for the creation of bobble-heads and sports apparel for all major league sports teams. I am now currently employed at Forever Collectibles, where I am the Lead Graphic/Web Designer. As of now my duties range from designing assets for the social media accounts, creating and designing products and upholding the design, look and feel of the company’s web page.”
I’ve also been working as a freelance artist along with my younger brother, painter and fashion designer, Jaurice Jones with a brand we created called “ENOVATIVE ART” for over 10 years.
ISM: What made you decide to redesign HBCU Helmets?
JONES: My main reason for the helmet designs was to showcase an idea that I’ve had for a long time. I’ve always wanted to design uniforms for sports teams. Being that I played football for Morgan State I was able to see first hand that for many HBCUs the designs of the uniforms weren’t the best or creative at all in my opinion.While I was in college I would redesign my own uniform for my team as just a cool thing to do. Forward to this point in time, I felt the need to show people what could be if some effort and creativity was put forth into making our athletes look good on the field. I would just love for HBCUs to look better period, while getting the recognition they deserve for the right reasons.
ISM: Why do you think it is important?
Jones:The importance stands between the present and the future. While these teams have a roster full of football players, there is always a need to recruit for the future. A great selling point to attract the best athletes from what I believe, has been what the sports programs can offer. For example, take a look at the University of Oregon. Of course the funding for this type of school is out of this world, but imagine if a Hampton University had recourse’s to obtain the gear and the uniforms that they have. Compared to any other HBCU in the nation, if an athlete had to choose, they would choose Hampton because of how good they would look on the field. The current players should feel good enough to want to continue to play for the program and the recruits should want to be apart of the program.Like Deion Sanders said, ” Look good, Feel good, Play Good”.
ISM: Have you approached the HBCU’s, the SWAC, the MEAC CIAA, or SIAC about your designs? If so , what has been the response?
Jones: Actually since I’ve posted my designs across all of my social media pages I’ve gotten great responses from people.
As far as the programs, Hampton University has re-posted the helmet I designed on their Instagram page; the athletic Director from Lincoln University has reached out to speak more on how I could possibly help and the athletic department from Morehouse has also shown interest in the design I came up with for them.
ISM: What are you expecting to happen or take place with the designs that you done?
Jones: At first I was just hoping to get noticed as that designer that recreated helmets for all of the HBCU teams. Possibly go viral on social media and create a buzz for myself as a talented graphic designer. Now I am hoping that at least one of these schools can take interest in my design skills and allow me to provide their program a look and feel that can give the school a boost of confidence. Essentially I just love to help people and if this is the best way for me to give back as a member of the HBCU family then I am extremely happy to.
ISM:I see that you have actually started a social media campaign to showcase your designs, what do you hope that generates?
Jones: I want to be known for what I do. I’ve been working as a designer for over 6 years now professionally, while being really patient waiting for that right person to notice my work.
ISM: Now if someone wanted to get in contact with your work how can they do that? Your Social Media Connections?Website?
Jones: My portfolio/website which I share with my younger brother who is also an artist that has done a few things for a few HBCUs as well artistically.
www.enoart.net/jerryjones ( the whole site features my graphic work, paintings by my brother Jaurice Jones as well as clothing)
Facebook: Jerry Mook Jones Jr
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