Ultimate Design: An Interview with Jeremiah Boncha

by | November 24, 2010, 9:00am 0

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Since 2006, *threads designer Jeremiah Boncha has been creating iconic logos for USAU’s club and college Championships, as well as for numerous local Ultimate tournaments including Cleveland’s No Surf.  Intricately patterned, while maintaining a sense of frenetic sketchiness, Jeremiah’s event artwork has a unique, stand-out style that has been at the forefront of the sport.  In early 2010, Jeremiah started a new shop, *threads, for Ultimate apparel. *threads is a retailer that highlights Jeremiah’s designs in jerseys, shorts, hats and general street-wear marketed towards a wide audience.

Skyd wanted to hear more about Jeremiah’s new project, as well as learn what designing for the sport of Ultimate is all about.

RAWR jersey available on asteriskthreads.com

Who are you? Where are you from? How did you get involved in Ultimate? What is your playing history?

Jeremiah Boncha: My birth name is Jeremiah Boncha, but a lot of the time I just go by miah. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where I started playing Ultimate in high school. It was just an off day activity during the cross country season, but by my junior year a few of us started playing summer league with the Cleveland Disc Association. After high school, I spent four years in the Marine Corps without the knowledge that that there was Ultimate outside of the city of Cleveland. Once I got out of the Marines, I got right back into the CDA summer league and started college at Kent State University where two of my high school cross county teammates were organizing the Ultimate team. The next summer I started playing with the Cleveland club team, Cuyahoga Sheet Metal and two summers after that made a spot on the newly formed Cleveland competitive Open team, Jawbone. That same summer I transferred to the Cleveland Institute of Art where I was able to play on the Case Western Reserve University team with a UPA approved consortium.

More recently I played with the newly formed Cleveland Mixed team BOI and after moving to Brooklyn last year, I played with the NYC Masters team WSL Allstars this past summer. While in college I also spent two years as a college sectionals coordinator and two as a club sectional coordinator. While this past year I was the Northeast Masters regional coordinator.

Talk about your design skill. Where did you hone your abilities?

Jeremiah: At Kent, I was in their Visual Communication Design program studying graphic design and eventually transferred to CIA continue my design education, which took a total of six years. After college, I worked for two years at the Cleveland Museum of Art and have done freelance work for the UPA/USA Ultimate, VC Ultimate and since moving to NYC I have been working for the Pushpin Group with design legend Seymour Chwast.

2009 UPA Club Championships

What sort of design/designers inspire you?

Jeremiah: I have always been inspired by the design of silk screened concert posters, a few studios that do some exceptional work that I try to keep regular tabs on are Modern Dog out of Seattle, Aesthetic Apparatus from Minneapolis and Small Stakes who hails from Oakland. I also love the smart and accessible design of studios like Pentagram and Open, both out of New York City.

What was the impetus for bridging your design abilities with Ultimate?

Jeremiah: As a freshman at Kent, my first venture in designing discs and apparel was to design our team’s new logo which we got printed on discs and jerseys. It was certainly a proud day when I saw our team on the field for the first time wearing the uniforms I had designed.

You’ve worked with USA Ultimate for the last couple of years designing jerseys and discs for series events like Club and College Nationals. Tell us about some of the other events/teams you’ve designed for and how you got involved with USA Ultimate.

Jeremiah: By my sophomore year in college, I had taken over the design of discs and apparel for CDA’s leagues and tournaments, including No Surf and their hat tournament 1040ez. Around the same time, I was also answering the call whenever the UPA would have an open submission for the design of the club series and championships designs. At first, I was not very successful with my submissions to the UPA, it took a few years before my design actually got chosen. It was 2005, when the same year I got chosen to design both the club series discs and the club championships logo. I have been requested to design the club series discs ever since and have been contracted by VC Ultimate to design the 2009 college and club UPA championships and 2010 USA Ultimate college championships.

What is your creative process like when designing for an event? How do you reach the final draft?

Jeremiah: Lately I have been sketching more on paper and going to the computer with a decent idea of the direction I will take. Sometimes that means scanning my sketch and creating the art directly from the sketch while others it is just giving me a good base to work from. A lot of times, I will continue to revise a design and it is not until it gets sent to the printer that it is final, just due to the fact that I can not continue to revise anymore.

As you’ve been involved in designing for Ultimate, have you paid attention to other event or team designs out there? What do you notice about design in Ultimate as a whole?

Jeremiah: It is hard for me to go to a tournament and not look at the design of the different team’s apparel. There always seems to be a few teams that surprise me with something that looks real sick and that I wish I had done. Although I would have to say that I have noticed the design landscape in general has been improving the past decade.

How have you seen design in Ultimate evolve?

Jeremiah: The biggest change that I have noticed recently is the adoption of sublimation in team apparel. It allows teams to go crazy with their apparel and let their crazy flags wave. One of the things I love about designing apparel for Ultimate teams is that it is accepted for teams apparel to be as wild as they would like, unlike many other sports.

What do you think makes for successful design in the sport of Ultimate?

Jeremiah: A lot of times when I am asked to create a design for either a tournament or a team, I have been asked to incorporate a disc into the design. I am not going to say that a design with a disc, makes for a bad design, but it needs to be incorporated appropriately and is not entirely necessary. One of the problems with incorporating a disc is that it is not very graphically interesting. From the side it looks like a hot dog, from the top, it is not more than a few concentric circles.

Can you think of some designs in Ultimate that stand out to you?

Jeremiah: I think some of the most successful and memorable logos whether for Ultimate or otherwise, are those that can communicate an idea with a simple graphical mark. Some of the teams that I can think of that I think have done this well would be Johnny Bravo, Riot and Surly.

Tell us about *threads. Why did you start it? How did it start? What is it?

Jeremiah: About a year ago, I had been tossing around the idea that I would like to put out a line of designer apparel geared towards Ultimate players, but that could also reach a wider audience. I had looked at the skate and surf apparel companies as a reference for what I would like to base the company around. What I liked about what they were doing is creating awesome street wear for everybody, while also offering apparel and products for the active athlete. I am not currently interested in the production of apparel, but instead when choosing the apparel for the products, I try to get the best quality I can find. All of the t-shirts on the site are top quality American Apparel and the jerseys are all from VC Ultimate. I also try to work with printers who are willing to push the boundaries in production techniques to allow for prints that continue onto the sleeve or bleed off the bottom of the shirt.

What are some of the products available on *threads?

Jeremiah: There are shirts that I designed just for the line like the Women’s v-neck Asterisqué Shirt and the DOA Shirt. Also you will find shirts and jerseys that I designed for Cleveland’s Women’s team RAWR and merchandise from this past year’s No Surf tournament at a greatly reduced price. Additionally, all of the proceeds from the No Surf merchandise goes to a non-profit which I started called the Rima Foundation which gives scholarships to Cleveland area college Ultimate players.

What are some of your favorite *threads products?

Jeremiah: I love the Beast design which is available as both a shirt and jersey as one of the truly Ultimate related designs. I also love the Threads Eco-Cap, that has an embroidered *threads logo on a Flexfit hat that is made of 59% bamboo, it feels great and is sustainable.

What should people expect from *threads and what can we expect to see in the future?

Jeremiah: I already have ideas for the next season of *threads apparel. I am going to continue pushing the boundaries with my designs and see how far I can take this all. I am also currently working with a few college teams to design their next awesome jerseys, so you can plan on seeing those this spring on the fields. If you are in need of your next jersey design, you can get a hold of me at info@asteriskthreads.com.

For more art by Jeremiah check out *threads and his personal design website boncha.com.

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