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Behind the creation of the Nighthawk

Last Updated 1 February, 2018

Alumnus and art professor Mike Bartlett and current student Korte Zickefoose are the designers behind NNU's new mascot. After being commissioned for this project last October, Mike enlisted the assistance of Korte, a senior graphic design major. Here they share the process of creating our Nighthawks imagery.

How did it feel when you were asked to design NNU’s new mascot?

Mike: It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of the process. As a designer I love to help others express their ideas in visual forms.

Korte: I was stoked. Not only would I get to design with one of my professors, but also for an institution that I confidently believe in. When I heard about it, I went up to Mike and said, “I want in.” He was gracious enough to have me work alongside him. My experience at NNU has been incredibly formative, and I saw this as a way I could give back to this community.

Tell us about the process of creating the new mascot.

Mike: We followed our design process of research, sketch, review, and revise until we were ready to finalize. After researching the visual appearance of a nighthawk, we looked at its behavior and characteristics then coupled those with who we are as an institution. The last part of the development process was rendering sketches on the computer, gathering feedback, and making adjustments.

Where did you find inspiration for the design?

Mike: We looked at as many other sports teams’ logos as we could to get an idea of what would fit for us, what had been done before, and what our visual language of this new mark might be. Longevity was one of our goals for the visual look of this new branding. To the best of our ability, we tried to create something that would be unique and stand over time.

Then we looked at basic shapes, flight patterns, and poses. The right flying nighthawk ended up flowing with text underneath, showing motion, strength, and speed. One thing we tried to do was think about how athletes would feel wearing this. If our logo can visually inspire our athletic teams before they step into competition, we already have a leg up.

What past work experience or projects equipped you for this task?

Mike: After graduating from NNU in 2008, I worked for Carhartt Inc. for five years. While there, I worked with the product development team to create new looks, colors, graphics, buttons, patches, and more. It gave me a really good sense of what it means to be a global brand. While Carhartt has a niche in the workwear industry in the U.S., they also have a niche in the skate and street culture in Europe and Asia. While with Carhartt and after, I have done freelance design work ranging from ad campaigns and brochures to websites and branding.

Korte: My coursework has provided me with confidence to seek out freelance projects and get involved in the community. I worked on SGA as the Publicity Director my junior year. I was in charge of producing posters, banners, schedules, and materials for 30+ campus events. I created the logo for TimeOut, our student-led worship service, and for the NNU Art & Design Department.

This past summer I worked with Extreme Nazarene as the messaging and media intern for their Pedal to Plant campaign. I have had the privilege to design work for various organizations in Canada, Korea, Ethiopia, and Ecuador. I appreciate how design can bring together people across languages and cultures.

What do you hope to convey through the design?

Mike: In a short answer, direction. I hope we move forward. I hope this logo inspires our athletes to compete at a high level. I hope this logo directs us to see things from others point of view. I hope we show compassion as quickly as strength. I hope we all move to work together, not separate, to spread the love of Jesus. In the logo, we focused on the white markings on the wing, speed, and focus. These things need to work together in the same direction; if so, they can accomplish a greater goal.

What is it like to see your work all over campus?

Korte: It is humbling to see the new logo and to think back to the beginning of the process. It’s easy for me to see the building sense of pride and passion students have for a visual mark to get behind. It gets me excited to see others stoked about the logo.

I love being part of this community. My sister, Alexandra Rieke, graduated from here. My parents graduated from here. My grandpa Richard Hagood was president. I’ve been told the lore about NNU ever since I was young. I love that I get to be part of giving visual form to this new chapter in the story of NNU.