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South Jersey artist designs Devils’ gender equality jerseys

"I was like, I just really want to do a collage-based text where the lettering is different sizes. I started to collect different varieties of each letter because I wanted each of the players’ names to look like a ransom note.”

Like many other Devils fans, Millville-based artist Danielle Cartier will be arriving early to the Rock on March 7 to watch warm-ups prior to the Devils-Maple Leafs game. Warm-ups are a good chance for fans to try to catch a puck, get hyped for the game with the EDM music that blasts through the arena, and see their favorite players practice. 

There will be a lot to see as well during the game: the Devils are good this year if you didn’t know and they’ll be facing off against a Toronto Maple Leafs team (also good).

That’s all small peanuts though, because Cartier has a better reason to show up, and get there early: The Devils will be wearing the practice jerseys during warm-ups that she created for Gender Equality Month.

Last year, Cartier noticed an application on the New Jersey State Council on the Arts seeking applicants to create Devils warm-up jerseys, and she applied. 

“The Devils work with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to find artists,” says Cartier. ‘That’s how I found out about it. Because I am always looking for things to apply for. I totally applied off a whim, and it was a super easy process.”

The Devils were also looking for designs to celebrate Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Lunar New Year and Pride.

But for something as noble as inclusion, there has been controversy surrounding the jerseys—in particular with Pride jerseys. Two NHL teams across the Delaware and Hudson rivers have been the main characters.

Ivan Provorov, a defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers refused to wear the team’s pro-LGBT jerseys during Pride night hosted by the Flyers. Provorov cited his religious beliefs as to why he didn’t wear the jersey.  The Flyers, who practice in Camden County, did not reprimand Provorov. A few weeks later, the New York Rangers were supposed to wear pro-LGBT jerseys before their game against the Vegas Golden Knights, but refrained from doing so.

The Devils Pride night went on without a hitch and, for the most part, these things do tend to go over well with fans. All the MLB-affiliated minor league clubs in the state—the Somerset Patriots, Jersey Shore (Lakewood) BlueClaws and Trenton Thunder—have Hispanic Heritage nights and wear special jerseys to commemorate it, and all have hosted Pride nights.  

Even though Cartier grew up watching the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings due to her Michigan and California roots, she was stoked to be chosen for this opportunity to showcase her collage style of art to a new audience. She got into collage art when she was younger. 

“Having your binders or composition notebook decked out in school was always me,” says Cartier. “One thing that stood out to me was that my science teacher in middle school did this thing where whenever you got a good grade on a test she would give you a strip of paper. What you would do is write your name on it with a cool design. It was like your graffiti tag in a classroom and I really liked that.”

Growing up, Cartier realized that she could communicate better using art than with words, and was drawn to the powerful ways that art can communicate a message. The gender equality jersey was the latest case in point of how she uses art to relay a message, including what the form/media of the art itself says about the subject.

“I relate to gender the same way that I relate to making a collage,” explains Cartier. “Like being able to construct your gender identity in the same way you make a collage. You take bits and pieces of what you like. What inspires you? What makes you happy? What keeps you going? And some pieces you discard. That is how I relate gender to collage.”

Cartier was able to take her love of collage and put it on a sweater. Even though the NHL has been creative with jerseys recently, there isn’t an art form like Cartier’s on a sweater. 

When she got the call from the Devils, Cartier had a myriad of reactions; excitement, understandably, being the first one. She also told her students at Stockton University.

“I was so excited and so shocked,” explains Cartier. “Like I said I applied on a whim, and I when I got the call I was like, ‘Oh my god!’”

After the initial rush of excitement, Cartier started to get to work and focus on the devils in the details. She knew that she wanted to include collage on the sweater, and looked at previous jerseys for inspiration. She included her collage design on the Devils logo, but also the numbers as well. Compared to other artists, she had ample time to create her design. If she was chosen for Hispanic Heritage Month, she would only have had a month for design. Still with any art form comes challenges; for Cartier it was the text. 

“I was lucky to have made a few drafts, and progressed through it,’’ says Cartier about her design. “I struggled with the text aspect because I spent so much time focusing on the crest design and the text was difficult for me. I ended up doing what I always do, which is looking at a lot of sources. What I ended up doing was something that I tell my students, [which] is to look at graffiti font generators online. But then I was like, I just really want to do a collage-based text where the lettering is different sizes. I started to collect different varieties of each letter because I wanted each of the players’ names to look like a ransom note.”

Cartier is excited to see the jerseys up close, and will be lighting the Rock before the Devils game. The jerseys will then be auctioned off after the game and the proceeds will go to gender equality groups. While she’s excited for the opportunity, she can’t help but think about and thank the women who came before her, especially her teachers and her grandma.

“One of the things that makes me super proud is that my grandma would be so stoked right now,” says Cartier.