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Holmstrom helps bring mascots to life

Layton Holmstrom has designed logos for a number of area athletic teams. He is currently using his artistic talents to help lure more state tournaments to come to Aberdeen. Photo by John Davis taken 6/22/2021

From an Aberdeen Roncalli football game to an Aberdeen Christian basketball contest, the artistic talents of Layton Holmstrom are on full display.

The Aberdeen man has created mascot logos for several area schools through the years, including a pair in the Hub City.

“The first school logo I did was for Roncalli. Their Cavalier was pretty tired, so I kind of modernized him a little bit,” Holmstrom said. “The first year it got used was when they won the state football championship. It was the first logo on the helmet, so I’m taking full credit for that.”

Holmstrom also created the Aberdeen Christian Knights figure and also a crest for the school when it first was established about 15 years ago.

He also created the design for the Leola-Frederick Titans. While the figure wasn’t too difficult, Holmstrom encountered something different with that one.

“That was one relatively easy for inspiration, keeping in mind that there’s two different school districts going on there,” he said.

Another one of his designs is no longer being used. He created a tougher looking rabbit for Gettysburg, which had used a Bugs Bunny-type figure before that.

“I gave them several different faces, one being a little more tougher than the rest and they kind of picked one in the middle,” he said. “They didn’t want one too mean or too happy.”

Holmstrom, who used to work for the Super 8 and Wyndham Corporation, said technology has definitely made things much easier through the years.

“You can change colors, you can vary thicknesses of lines in a blink of an eye,” he said. “Back in the old days, when I was at Super 8 designing things, it would take a full day to do a billboard design. Now it takes about three minutes.”

Holmstrom said he can envision figures pretty quickly and then works to refine what the images will look like. He said there are several key things to keep in mind.

“Actually, I can see it in my mind pretty quickly. I usually like to give the client anywhere from 6 to 8 different logos,” Holmstrom said. “When you design a logo you always have to keep in mind what it will look like in black and white, what it would look like reversed. That’s when it gets tricky. You might design a colored one, but then you realize you might have to take something out or add something for it to retain its integrity.”

While Holmstrom doesn’t see a distinctive style to his work, when you look closely it does have a certain flair to it.

“Especially when doing a logo for a sports imagery, I’ve kind of learned over the years you really have to be bold with it,” he said. “It can’t be overly detailed because you have to keep in mind embroidery. You shouldn’t probably ever go beyond three colors. So you kind of live and learn as you go.”

Holmstrom, who currently works as the Event Planning and Marketing Coordinator for the Aberdeen Convention and Visitors Bureau, said some of his past works have been displayed in numerous countries.

“I’ve had some of my work around the world. It hasn’t been sports in nature. When we were designing things for Wyndham, our work was international. Being able to work remotely and send files digitally, I’ve had work around the world. It’s neat. I still drive around and see some of the old billboards we designed.”

In fact, Holmstrom has designed so much stuff through the years, he has nearly worn out his computer.

“I’ve been doing this for 35 years now, doing design work,” he said. “Actually, I’ve about driven the wheels off my laptop.”

Holmstrom has even had the opportunity to create art for the likes of NASCAR drivers Bill Elliott and Richard Petty when Super 8 and Wyndham sponsored those drivers.

While Holmstrom has not designed a current school mascot for a while, he would still like to help out high schools throughout the state.

“As I’ve watched different sports, and actually now as the world gets more online and on TV, you see a lot of logos that look really pixilated because they’ve pulled them off the internet,” Holmstrom said. “I was always thinking about approaching the South Dakota High School Activities Association and creating a logo file, similar to what the Wings hockey league (has). You can actually go online and pull the logos you need to promote that event.”

For now, Holmstrom is using his artistic abilities to help the Hub City to attract more state sporting events in the future.

“I’m using my love and knowledge of sports and my ability to create imagery to help bid tournaments to come to Aberdeen,” he said. “We got the BMX. We just recently got the state softball. What I do is I create bid proposals that get sent to the governing bodies that choose those.”

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