Alright, I need some design help.
Those with photographic memories for obscure forum posts know my story, but here’s a recap: my grandfather bought some merchandise from a bucket shop many moons ago and has displayed it in his house as art since. I asked where it came from, he said he just bought it, and after a short discussion, we decided that having our own arms would be desirable. With the intention that he assume the arms and that subsequent generations keep the shield and change the crest and motto, I offered to design his arms.
Since then, I gathered his (very sparse) requirements and set forth doing a few dozen sketches. Based on his (very limited) feedback, my father’s (slightly less limited) input and my own personal thoughts and tastes, I’ve come to a basic design, with a few variations, that I feel represents those experiences common to each of us and satisfies the few requirements I’ve been given.
Trouble is, I’m not as in love with it as I’d hoped. I’ve done my best to step back and stick it on the fridge in my mind. I don’t know if this isn’t the one and I need more ideas, or if this is the one and I’m just burned out on the whole design process. The shield feels too busy for me, and I don’t know if I have some compulsion to oversimplify or if I could really stand to shed some stuff. I have ideas for each of our crests, but I feel that the shield is the centerpiece of the achievement and the "legacy" that I might pass on. Once I get the shield, the rest will fall into place.
So here’s what I’m asking of those who’re willing and still reading:
Read the brief bios below, let me know what pops into your head. I’ve become very tunnel-visioned, and would appreciate some fresh ideas from the cognoscenti.
Take a look at my most recent "sketches" - I’m not an artist, but I do my best to depict designs - and let me know what you think could be changed to improve them. There are dozens more that I disqualified for being too derivative or just didn’t like a week later or some other reason. I have them ranked by my personal preference for ease of reference.
Either I’ll take suggestions/criticisms and revise what I have, or I’ll decide that what I have is what I want and pitch it to my father and grandfather as The Design. Either way, new ideas are what I need. As much as I would love to hear a unanimous "You did a great job, I love your design, wouldn’t change a thing", I need insight more than I need an ego boost, so if you don’t mean it, please don’t say it. I know this is a very encouraging group, and I worry sometimes that someone might have a constructive criticism that they fear might be taken the wrong way and that person might not share it.
Harold, my grandfather: only child, mixed heritage, but a Danish surname, born and raised in the US. Served in the Army in WWII as a Tech Sergeant doing counterintelligence for the Manhattan Project. Before and after, worked at an insurance company. Holds an amateur radio license, General class. Currently retired. Asked that the arms reflect his membership in the Danish Brotherhood. I couldn’t find any symbols they used publicly other than the Dannebrog.
Barry, my father: only child, graduated Iowa State Univ. with a BA in Journalism, spent the bulk of his career as an editor for a chain of local newspapers. Held an amateur radio license when I was younger - has since worked more with the Internet. No gov’t service. A fascination (somewhere between interest and hobby) with cryptography and codebreaking. Asked that the arms reflect something symbolizing academic learning - a scroll, oil lamp, book, etc.
Me (Dan): only child, graduated U of Michigan with a BSE in Computer Engineering. Bounced around several computer-related jobs (helpdesk, software tester, network security, etc) in and shortly after school before landing as a webmaster and web developer at VA. My design goals, like Einstein said, are that the arms be as simple as possible and no simpler. My favorite arms are those that are distinctive and minimalistic. As a wholly artificial metric, if the blazon has ten words or so, I typically like it. My favorite that I’ve seen has eight. Some people like the big symphony of heraldry, I like the catchy pop hook. I’ve had problems selling simple to dad and grandpa, but they both say they’d like any of the ones I’ve sketched so far. (Remember what I said about a little criticism? )
Anyhow, any input would be fantastic, and if you don’t feel like it, I wouldn’t blame you. Thanks, at least, for getting through this - it went a lot longer than I’d intended.
A couple of quick reactions—
- I’d stay away from something so obvious as the Dannebrog to represent the Danish ancestry. Several reasons: 1, it’s generally not a good idea to use someone’s main national emblem in your personal arms—such symbols are often used as augmentations of honor by the country concerned; 2, when shown in arms, the Dannebrog is not shown off center as it is in the flag but rather as a red-bordered white cross throughout; 3, a red chief with a white cross is the internationally recognized mark of a high-ranking knight of the Order of Malta; 4, using any national symbol to show ancestry tends to be hackneyed. Maybe something to connote the Danish Brotherhood could be placed in the crest—a blue lion like the one in the Danish royal arms, possibly carrying something in its paws?
- I would suggest that to show the Danish connection, you try to design your arms in the general Danish style, which tends to be spare and streamlined, not overloaded. Shoot for one color and one metal, if possible, although don’t consider yourself limited absolutely to that. Take a look at some of the designs at the site of the Scandinavian Heraldry Society, http://www.heraldik.org/ (click on vabenrulle on the left side), or go to http://www.heraldik.se/rullor/rullor.htm and click either medlemmarnas or slaktvapen from the menu along the top of the page. You’ll get lots of well-designed arms that might provide inspiration.
- Lightning bolts have never done much for me as symbols of radio. How about something based on a sine wave? (Maybe you could have the lion in my suggested crest carrying the lightning bolts?)
- Avoid trying to symbolize too much: three generations worth of military history, occupations, hobbies, and college affiliations is just asking for clutter. Who do you mainly want to honor with the arms—presumably the grandfather, who is the arms founder? How about something like, "Per fess wavy Gules and Or, three chevronels counterchanged."
Another thought—looks like the arms of the Danish Brotherhood have a crossed anchor and hammer in blue—maybe if you use the idea of a blue lion crest, he could be carrying or supporting those, or charged on the shoulder with a gold hammer and anchor in saltire.
You could use red and white instead of red and gold in my concept of the arms to make the Danish connection as well.
Before I saw Joe’s comments….
A new sinewave form: Wavy stretched palewise ??? :o
Another non-serious doodle:
First, the person to talk to about this would likely be IMHO Ton de Witte - a ‘welcomed guest’ here and not a member. Then I would also review the Nordic Heraldry pages here and where Joseph mentioned. To view the images people provided and see some of the links to Nordic heraldry.
That being said I would try to restrict you color selection to two (one metal, one color) for two reasons. One, simplicity, which you yourself said you desire(d). Two, it is a very common trend (not absolute) in the Nordic arms I’ve seen to use only two colors.
I’d also eliminate the arms with the chevronells (not the one Joseph blazoned which would be pefect for simplicity and color choice), but the one you have linked us to. Yes, it reflects your gramps service, but that can be done elsewhere and not needed for the arms as a whole.
If you are going to use a scroll for your above reasons and bolts instead of the wave Joseph and Mike mentioned and showed I’d still stick to just two colors. I’d personally go with a blue field with a white scroll and blue bolts (of course one can say that I am biased being in Colorado where the Air Force Academy uses blue bolts on white, but that’s really not the case). I just like keeping the scroll white, however it could just as easily be gold and still holding to the two color principle. Doing it this way you restrict your colors to two and keep your design simple, elegant and to the point with all three persons involved. To that end I’d use all three bolts and I’d have them coming to a point in base on the scroll as in this one: http://dbzero.rawk-star.com/arms/1-boltpilewise.gif
So for the arms simply try: Azure, on a scroll Argent, three bolts coming to a point in base Azure. If you like gold instead just replace Argent with Gold.
I’d use the Danneborg symbolism in the crest for your gramps; perhaps a lion as Joseph mentioned holding in the paws a banner bearing this Danneborg ensign (right word?) and charged on the shoulder with the chevronells to bring it back to his military service. Perhaps in conjunction with some other charges reflecting his military service if you don’t like that idea.
Either way Dan I would PM Ton de Witte, a ‘welcomed guest’ here with this info and ask if he’d help you. Ton is a great guy; very nice and approachable. Plus he is more of an expert on Nordic arms than I’d be, so he could give you some tips on Nordic expressions of the arms as a whole in addition to specific ideas on charges. He is also a very, very good heraldic artist and I would listen to his advice on these matters because he will not only have the aforementioned knowledge, but be able to see it through an artist’s eye. Also view the links Joseph provided and the Nordic heraldry thread here.
Just some thoughts for ya.
Thanks, all, for the QUICK response and for the tips on moving the "Danish-ness" off. I agree, it felt forced, but I’m a rookie, and that’s why I ask for help.
I went through the SVR and found a couple I liked, but most struck me personally as pretty bland. I’m going to take another run at it and see what falls out.
I’ll ping Ton and post again when I come up with something I can stand to look at.
Not wanting your arms to be bland is certainly understandable. But also keep in mind that your arms are supposed to be recognizable from a distance. So you want to stay away from too much clutter as Joseph pointed out earlier. Simplier is always better, in my opinion, but there’s still the opportunity to include uniqueness in your design. Good luck and I look forward to your next step.
What is the main idea you want communicated? Military/Army/WWII? Radio? Journalism? Denmark? Danish Brotherhood?
If you want arms in the Danish style, your no. 1 artist is of course Ronny Andersen, official herald painter to H.M. the Queen. His website http://www.arsheraldica.dk/ is in danish, but it gives you an idea of his style.
My own arms have been painted by him.
Otherwise the advise about using only two tinctures is very good.
I really like Micheal Swanson’s Second design with the sine waves. It’s unique (which as you can tell by my orange and white checkers I really like) and the sine waves really convey radio waves well. I noticed the feather in the original designs, what was the symbolism behind that (I am assuming a quill for writing?).
I would love to start working on a design you may like, and hopefully my comp will be up and running on the net by Friday evening so I can throw some ideas out for you, even though i must admit I like what Joe, Micheal Swanson have suggested for you.
Like i said hopefully friday i can start working on something, if you haven’t decided on something by then
For a simple nordic design, I would recommend the following:
A quill writing a sign wave. Crest: blue demi lion holding an anchor.
I took Denny’s advice and sent Ton a PM. He suggested a division per fess, the upper half gyronny of eleven (five piles conjoined at the division line - similar to the Arizona flag) to convey the broadcasting, which I thought looked really slick.
I’ll sketch out the sine wave designs, rotate them through my site, and try to springboard off them a bit. I’m taking ideas to dad and gramps regularly, and I’ve been working on this for three months, so another week or two won’t be noticed by anybody.
I appreciate all the ideas - never could have arrived at this point without help.
Great Dan! 8)
any word on this? How’s it coming??
Well, I pitched Mike’s quill-sine design, Ton’s gyronny-cross design, and a couple more hacks that I took at it (all the files at my site) to Gramps at Thanksgiving. After about two minutes, he decided that his favorite was Ton’s design. Despite the filename, there’s nothing written in stone yet, but it gives me a pretty good idea of the direction we’re headed. It might wind up being the final design, but I’m going to give it a bit to let it sink in and make sure that nothing else leaps into my head or his that might work as well or better.
And not because I recommended Tonâ€™s advice to ya, but his design is my favorite and definitely reminds me of some of the other Nordic arms Iâ€™ve seen at several Nordic arms sites; very nice indeed. Either way Iâ€™m glad you had help and drew up some different designs.