Students voted for a new team name, and a student gave that team a new look.
Alain Soltys-Gray, 16, is the artist behind Juneau Huskies football team’s logo.
Soltys-Gray’s husky drawing was the winning submission in a student art contest held in the spring, providing a face to the program that swapped out its original mascot months before last season. His submission was one of 13 entries.
“It really just started out as a ‘Why not do it?’ and now I’m surprised I’ve made it this far,” Soltys-Gray said in an interview on Wednesday.
Students initially voted on Thunder Bears for the team name, but the moniker was scrapped months before the beginning of the season, and the Huskies replacement didn’t come until this year. Juneau high school students in January voted a second time on the mascot, and this time settled on Huskies.
An avid painter, the Thunder Mountain High School sophomore also won the 2019 Alaska Junior Duck Stamp Contest.
Gretchen Kriegmont is the team’s booster president and devised the student mascot contest. She said the creation of the logo was an important step to unifying the community behind the team made up of TMHS and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaat.at Kalé players.
“We felt that it was essential moving forward, instead of just being ‘Juneau Football,’ that we have some kind of identity that would unify us together,” Kriegmont said.
Angela Imboden, a TMHS art teacher, provided assistance on both of Soltys-Gray’s award-winning art pieces. Imboden taught painting to Soltys-Gray last semester.
Soltys-Gray is “just like a sponge, ready to absorb more and keeping trying and always concerned with improving,” Imboden said.
“I find the digital thing is a little bit easier because there’s an undo button unlike a canvas,” Soltys-Gray said.
Soltys-Gray said one of one of the keys was shading the husky face to make it look three dimensional.
Soltys-Gray learned to draw in three dimensions while he was in grade school using “The Draw Squad!,” an art instruction program for children. He then adopted some of those skills in a digital arts class and started drawing on a tablet.
“At first, I was researching what huskies looked like and studying their features and all that stuff. After drawing like maybe five or so huskies, then I end up finally putting it on its digital form.”
Soltys-Gray said another challenge was incorporating football into the design.
“It’s kind of jumbleness of thoughts,” Soltys-Gray said of the creative process. “First I drew the husky, and then (I thought) maybe I can add something that says it’s a mascot for football. So I put a football in its mouth.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.