A Graphic Designer’s Incredible Journey With Two of Scarborough’s Most Recognized Basketball Programs
There’s an old saying by Confucius…”Signs and symbols rule the world, not words nor laws.” This timeless quote perfectly sums up this blog series detailing a graphic designer’s journey with two of Scarborough’s most recognizable basketball programs; Scarborough Basketball Association (SBA) and P.H.A.S.E. 1.
As time goes by, we often lose sight of the path it takes to lay the foundation for success. Sometimes the foundation being laid happens in the periphery, or rather, not in our clear consciousness. With the Scarborough Basketball Association (SBA), also known to many as the Scarborough Blues, celebrating their 20th anniversary and launch of P.H.A.S.E. 1’s blog, it is only fitting that we recognize the creative genius behind the classic logos and branding that both associations were founded on. Those timeless designs started with a kid, his portfolio, and a basketball…
Let us meet visual communicator, Mark Stoddart.
Born in the U.K. and raised in Scarborough, one of Mark’s favorite pastimes growing up was collecting and designing t-shirts. While seemingly an innocent hobby, his formative entrepreneurial mind was developing the skills that would become invaluable to his future aspirations. Generally speaking, when most of people see a plain white t-shirt, they see a plain white t-shirt. Not Mark...
From an early age he understood that people easily identified with popular logos and symbols used as trademarks. Whether it is an association like the NBA (who’s logo is the silhouette of Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry West), or a company like Nike, people identify with a brand on their chest. That symbol essentially becomes a representation of their persona. To him, that was a powerful idea.
An avid fan of basketball as well as a former college and international player,Stoddart was actually a coach of the Blues Rep and House League programs in 1996. Unbeknownst in the beginning to Scarborough Blues Founder, Sam Moncada, outside from coaching basketball, he was also a talented graphic designer. As fate would have it, an unexpected encounter at his day job led to Mark being asked to update the dated version of the SBA logo and help with the branding of the organization. The new design became an instant hit within the community, which translated into the growing popularity of the SBA and its participants.
Sam Moncada – “Mark Stoddart was the first creative designer SBA contracted over 20 yrs. We are proud to see Mark’s success has mirrored the SBA for so many years. He has always been an individual that helps bring out the real essence of what a business is trying to accomplish.”
It didn’t take long for the governing body of basketball in this province, Ontario Basketball Association (OBA), to notice the trending designs being worn by SBA ballers that they swiftly sought out Mark and requested his services. For the next 5 years (1996 to 1999) his designs were featured on various t-shirts and jerseys specifically the OBA Provincial Championship Tee and the OBA Tryout Tees for the Bantam and Jr. Bantam teams, thus becoming synonymous with high-level competition.
As a result of his natural ability to create the right image for the right brand, his basketball designs continued to appear on t-shirts and jerseys worn by other basketball programs throughout the Greater Toronto Area. In 1997 Wayne Dawkins, Director of Basketball for Prep Stars Canada approached him to revamp their logo for the upcoming season. Mark, who had now founded his graphics company, Kurupt Designs, was now the “go-to” guy within the community for logo designs.
Wayne Dawkins – “For P.H.A.S.E. 1 Mark exemplifies our definition of an Elite 1. His designs, logos and images for us, has stood the test of time. All of our alumni have wore his logos proudly at a stage of their Elite 1 Journey.”
Dawkins, having built a working relationship with him, requested his services again when he created Grassroots Canada. This time, Kurupt Designs was commissioned to create the original Grassroots Canada logo and the first All Canada Basketball Weekend (later shortened to All Canada Classic) logo. Riding the wave and success of these designs, Mark’s amazing work led Dawkins giving him full creative control (web design, logos, merchandise, marketing material etc.) of his new organization, P.H.A.S.E. 1, as well as the properties developed under it’s umbrella, including the All Canada Classic – Rumble in the T-Dot and Elite 1’s. This partnership lead to some of the most iconic posters, flyers and t-shirts ever created for Toronto basketball.
It is fair to say that neither he, Sam or Wayne could have envisioned what these designs would mean to Toronto Basketball in 1 year, not to mention 20! For the record, Mark’s designs for those organizations represent the foundation of Toronto’s rich roundball history.
Armed with all these powerhouse organizations in his portfolio, it is safe to say that a majority of basketball players throughout the GTA and Ontario wore or saw a design created by Mark.
Kevin Massiah – “As kid in high school I was fortunate to have the opportunity to wear and represent Mark Stoddart’s highly creative Kurupt & Ballheadz brand. At that time it felt empowering. The BallHeadz image spoke to me because it represented who I was, which was a basketball player working hard to make a dream in reality. The Kurupt brand impacted me as well, even though I was not a corrupt kid people assumed that I was up to no good. I felt Kurupt was making something that is negative into something positive.”
Jevohn Shepherd – My first encounter with Mark was very influential. I was 17 and had never met someone as dedicated to a craft as he. For me this was impactful because in a very short time I learnt how to channel my passion and remain humble, which essentially has been key to my journey. Over the years I’ve also been fortunate enough to see much of Marks work, the first thought that comes to mind is “legendary”. There is always a story being captured and a struggle not only being expressed but also embraced, which we all relate to. Mark is a pioneer of our time and, through his work, has been able to unify our communities as well as mentor the aspiring.”
Today, every single P.H.A.S.E. 1 (and its original organizations; Prep Stars and Grassroots) and SBA players still wear his logo designs on the courts.
Whether it was a Prep Stars, Grassroots or Blues Alumni who has or currently still play in the WNBA or NBA, to the young and talented basketball player who aspires to get there, it’s important for these players to understand not only the organization that assisted them but the graphic designer who branded them with logos that will forever be recognized as part of our basketball history.
Tammy Sutton-Brown – “Mark is an artist who has been blessed with a great talent. When I look at his work I see the creativity. I love that he has so much passion for art. I am a big fan of his. ( and own a few pieces myself)”
To understand the world we live in, we must understand the symbols that surround us. And to understand those symbols, we must unearth up their origin, or better yet the originator.
We want to give young upcoming athletes that continue to wear his P.H.A.S.E. 1 and Scarborough Blues Logos a chance to be inspired by his journey as an elite basketball player who has gone on to become one of the most impactful graphic artists in Canadian Basketball History.
For further information regarding Mark Stoddart and his company LIWI68 please visit www.liwi68.com
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