Friday, September 24, 2010

Hockey jersey Training Camp - Day 8 - How to Communicate With Your Customizers

Day 8 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp moves onto our next "drill" on how to communicate with your customizers.

When spending your hard earned money having your rare jersey customized, the last thing you want when you finally get it back is an unwanted surprise, be it the wrong font, the wrong placement for a patch or wrong material for a nameplate. This is a battle we have fought dating back to the first jersey we have ever owned.

In order to avoid disappointment, we make a policy of over-communicating he specifics of what we want and expect on our completed jersey.

As we referenced on Day 4 of Hockey Jersey Training Camp, our favorite sources for photos is GettyImages.com's editorial sports section. It does take some experience to learn how to do effective searching on Getty Images, and older pictures are often not labelled very accurately with the correct date or even year, but there's more than enough on file there to help document just about any jersey project you'd like done.

For our sample, let's pick an Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals rookie home jersey. Start by searching for the team you are interested in. If you search for just the player, you may exclude some excellent sample photos of the style of jersey you want done. Perhaps there's a photo of #18 Matt Pettinger that documents that style of jersey perfectly. Once you get an overwhelming 757 pages of results, begin to narrow it down by selecting "search within" and entering the year 2005 in the search box. Don't enter "2005-06", as the photos are tagged with the year they were taken in, not the NHL season they are from. If you don't find what you want in "2005", try a new search in 2006 to search the second half of the season. (Tip: the older the pictures, from the last half of 2005-06, will be on the highest number page, as the results displayed will be the newest ones taken, which would make them from the 2006-07 season and not relevant to our project)

Searching for just 2005 will narrow down the results to 39 pages. Now look in the left hand column in the "Refine this search" box to see the various options. Under "specific people", Oveckhin's name appears with the number 206 next to it. Clicking on his name will narrow the photos down to just those 206 photos that contain Ovechkin, which now number a reasonable four pages. To narrow it down to the Capitals black home jersey, return to the "Refine this search" box again and choose either "MCI Center" or "Washington DC" in the location section, which now leaves us with two pages of Ovechkin from his rookie season in his home jersey.

Scrolling through the photos reveals one interesting photo, Ovechkin from his rookie season wearing the NHL Cares Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund patch. Further research elsewhere on the internet about the patch and the date it was worn reveals that the Katrina patch was worn for the first period of each team's first home game of the season, which was Ovechkin's NHL debut in which he scored two goals!

Ovechkin Katrina

That to us is one of the most fun parts of the hobby, doing our research and coming across a rare variation of a jersey which allows us to add a patch to ours, setting it apart from the masses and giving our jersey an interesting story behind it.

Clicking on the thumbnail will open the photo in a larger size in a new window. After looking through the remainder of the thumbnails, we find a few other great examples, especially of the back of the jersey which show the font style for the name and number. Each photo we like is saved to our desktop.

With a player as popular as Ovechkin, photos are easy to come by. On occasion we will use pictures of other players from the same team and year, especially if they have digits in common with what we want on our jersey.

Other sources for photos are Spirit of the Game, a dealer in game worn hockey jerseys who has numerous pictures of jerseys, mainly from 1970 to 2004, and Webshots.com, which seems to be the website of choice for jersey collectors to show off their collections. Other collectors use photo hosting sites such as Flickr.com and Photobucket.com as well.

Another option is to do a Google Image search for the player in question. Hockey cards can also be of value if all else fails.

Once all our pictures have been chosen, we fire up Photoshop and create a new 8 x 10 document, and then
  1. type exactly what we want added to the jersey across the top
  2. spell out in detail all the colors the name and numbers are
  3. if there is a nameplate (or not) and of what material (as some places will use twill if it is not specified)
  4. place and crop our sample photos of the back, arms and any patches
  5. add any notes about the customizing we feel are relevant
Spelling out the colors the numbers are seems incredibly basic, but we once saw this jersey done with black trim around the numbers rather than the accurate blue color. Here is the finished sample sheet.

Ovechkin sample

Don't be afraid to make a second sheet for any project with a lot of details or complicated instructions. Too much information is never a bad thing.

After obtaining the needed patch, we then print the info sheet out, nicely fold our jersey, put the jersey in a zip lock bag, slide the info sheet into the bag so it's visible and place any patches to be added on in the bag. Finally, we squeeze as much air out of the bag we can in order to fit as many jerseys as possible in the box when sending a large order.

For the plastic bag, we like to use Hefty 2.5 gallon bags available from Target. They are the perfect size for a folded jersey and will nicely contain the jersey, info sheet and loose patches in one nice bundle, as well as protecting the jersey from any unforeseen shipping disasters.

Hefty bag

We then type out a letter to the customizers, being certain to include our name and address as well as their name and address (in the event our package ever needs to be identified), explaining that the top line of the info sheet is what is to be sewn on all the jerseys. We also make certain to include contact info, such as our email address and phone number, so we can be contacted in case of any questions about a jersey in production as well as being reached for our payment information when the order is completed. This is also an opportunity to further explain anything you feel might be confusing or complicated in your order.

Here is the finished result of the Ovechkin jersey.

Washington Capitals 05-06 F
Washington Capitals 05-06 B


Here is another example of a sample sheet with some important details pointed out, the use of home jersey photos, to show fonts and patch placements for a road jersey, using photos from a game worn jersey, as well as an illustration from NHLUniforms.com, followed by the finished result.

Ferraro sample

New York Islanders 91-92 F
New York Islanders 91-92 B

Before doing our research, we never realized that the Islanders had used the Penguins number font and the quirky "A" with the extra serifs. Had we not done our part, we would have been likely given a jersey with a standard block font and a typical "A", rather than our more accurate jersey with it's unique details.

Half the responsibility on getting an accurate jersey is yours. You can't send out a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey, which as been worn with four different fonts for the numbers, and expect the customizers to know what you have in mind without letting them know.

To avoid getting back a jersey that wasn't done the way you expected it was going to be, never assume the customizers can read your mind and show them exactly what you are expecting and and explain the details fully and see if your results don't improve. Yes, it's admittedly over the top, but it's worked well so far and we really enjoy researching the sample photos and we know for a fact the customizers appreciate knowing our expectations and getting the samples we provide them.

2 comments:

  1. This is very helpful information. I have a few jerseys that I've wanted to customize for over a decade, including a 1991 Sharks jersey, a "fish sticks" Islanders jersey and a Minnesota Moose (old IHL) jersey.

    Can you recommend a place that can customize these?

    ReplyDelete
  2. We suggest going back to our previous entry, Hockey Jersey Training Camp Day 7, when we discuss Where to Get Your Jersey Customized.

    http://thirdstringgoalie.blogspot.com/2010/09/hockey-jersey-training-camp-day-7-where.html

    ReplyDelete

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