Each year, The National Hockey League’s NHL Enterprises shows off its merchandising wares at the annual SuperShow in Atlanta. Naturally, they needed trade show booths designed for the week long event. The booths were to be informational. Each booth would hold two people who answer questions. There would be one booth for each NHL team plus one general NHL booth. The booths would come in two sizes. Three quarters of the teams would get the larger size booth.

The booths needed to be branded for each team. Two structures were used each year that were 12 feet high. I was assigned to create the graphics for the panels.

I proposed we create a posterized image for the background image of each booth. Each booth image would be clear from a distance and get more abstract as people got closer. Each image had to show movement and action and preferably be close ups of the players. The posterized shapes would reflect each teams’ color palette. The images below were presented at an internal meeting to sell the idea.

The images were approved. Initially, anyway. I was in the process of creating a few more posterized images when the word came down from the NHL’s Legal Department to hold up production.

We could not use images that highlight one individual player. The NHL’s attorneys were afraid of potential problem with the NHL Players Union. The union may demand more money for the player featured on each booth. If I wanted to move forward with the posterized image idea, I had to adapt the images. I had to use two or more players on each panel. And, if possible, I should try to make the images as abstract as possible so it wasn’t quite clear who the players were. The image I presented had too much detail. It was clear who the player was and he was alone in the image.

So, I started over and created two examples and placed them in a quick 3D sketch of the two different sized booths that I created in Adobe Illustrator.

They got approved. I moved forward with creating large format images for each team that was posterized from NHL owned photography. A few examples are attached below.

All of the final artwork was sent out to the vendor who created the large format panels. I forget the name of the company but they are out of Chicago and they are the same people who put graphics and ads on the boards at NHL arenas. I had actual photos of the booths at the SuperShow but I lost them at some point. But, they looked great and went over well with the NHL executives.