Thank You Mr. Snider

Posted by on Apr 22, 2016 in Blog | 2 Comments
David E Wilkinson (9) with Flyers 1980

David E Wilkinson (9) with Flyers 1980

Anyone who looks though my portfolio or reads some of my previous posts will realize that I am a Philadelphia Flyers fan. I have been for almost as long as I can remember. As part of an “About Me” kindergarten project I was asked the question “what do you want to be when you grow up”. My answer was very simple “a hockey player”.

I grew up in the Philadelphia area during the 1970’s & 80’s. I was only three and four years old when the Flyers or “Broad Street Bullies” as they were known won their back-to-back Stanley Cups and dominated the NHL so unfortunately I do not remember them. Nevertheless, this team captivated the city and the entire area including the South Jersey suburbs where I lived for many years to follow. Those teams became legendary so it was hard not to get caught up in the wake of those amazing years.

By the mid 80’s my curiosity grew into a strong interest but after seeing Ron Hextall play during the 1986 – 87 season my interest turned into my passion. Hockey and the Flyers came second to nothing. I ate, slept and breathed Flyers hockey. When I was not playing it I was watching it. If there was not a game on live I was watching one I had on tape. When I was not doing that I was drawing and painting pictures of my favorite players. Some of these paintings are what helped me get into art school. It became part of my life and how many came to identify me.

Both as a player and a Flyers fan, hockey has led to life long friendships and so many great memories in my life. It was a bond I shared with my Mother and watching a Flyers game was the last thing I did with her before she passed in 1995. The Flyers and the sport of hockey is now a bond I share with my nine year old son. My point of this is not to tell you my life story but it is important because it gives you a little insight into how hockey and the Flyers have affected my life and even my professional career. The man responsible for all of this is Mr. Ed Snider.

Mr. Snider’s accomplishments and contributions to Philadelphia and surrounding area through his various business ventures or The Ed Snider Foundation are well documented. From bringing Flyers hockey to Philadelphia to building ice rinks and introducing the sport of hockey to underprivileged kids in the surrounding area. Examples of his accomplishments and generosity are everywhere and will live on for generations.

Like most fans when I heard the sad news of his passing, it was almost as if I had lost a member of my own family. We knew he was not well but none of us knew how serious it really was. I think we all believed he would pull though and we would see him back in his suite watching his team soon. I first saw the news of his passing when a notification came across my phone screen as I was getting ready to start in on my morning workout. While I tried to concentrate on what I was doing my mind kept focusing on Mr. Snider and how much of what he created has affected my life as well as the lives of so many others.

As you know I am an artist and as such I always tend to express myself visually. As I was reflecting not only on his loss but also the legacy he leaves behind an image came to mind. The worst part about being artistic is sometimes you control it and sometimes it controls you. Once you visualize something in your mind and have that inspiration it is hard to concentrate or think about anything else. There is almost an uncontrollable need to put it on paper just to see if it works. As my kids once put it “you just have to get it out”. Once this image came to mind I found myself running back and forth from my gym to my studio and back to my gym again between sets working on developing this image.

Snider-Logo

Technically speaking, the hardest part was creating a profile silhouette of Mr. Snider that was recognizable. I thought briefly about doing a 70’s version of him with the glasses but decided against that as it has been a long time since those days. Once I decided on a modern version of him the challenge was finding the right reference images of him from the side. What I eventually created was from two different images actually. One for the front of his face and a second for his hair with that trademark flip in the back.

After that the next question was how to incorporate it into the shape of the logo. While I did try a few different places such as the front of the “P” and in the orange circle, where I ended up was pretty much where I initially visualized it.

Where to put it was only one challenge, the second is where does the Flyers logo end and the shape of the silhouette begin? This might seem simple but it does take thought and consideration. My initial design actually had a small orange tear coming from the eye area. Aside from it representing the sadness I and everyone else was feeling, it allowed me to bring that element of orange back into it.

Once it was done…or at least I thought, I sent it to my brother Eric who I often do to get a second opinion from. His only comment was “It’s perfect. I’d lose the tear”. In hindsight I am glad I took his advice. Sometimes less is more and this was one of those times.

I honestly was not sure what I was going to do with it as I was creating it. I just wanted to do it. While I have spent more than twenty years working as a designer as well as an illustrator, this is really not the kind of work I usually promote on my social networking pages. However, I do have a number of people who have “liked” or “followed” me because of my Flyers / sports art so I decided to share it. I thought I would get a few “likes”, a few comments, even perhaps a few shares. From that point on it took on a life of it’s own. During the next 24 hours it went viral and was even being talked about on Comcast’s “Breakfast on Broad”.

Here is a clip from that show:

It really meant a great deal to me to hear from Mr. Snider’s family expressing their heartfelt gratitude and appreciation for what I had done. When the Flyers organization reached out to me expressing their interest in using it in their upcoming game 3 of the playoffs, it really was a dream come true for this life long fan to finally be a part of a Flyers game. In the spirit of Mr. Snider’s generosity and my personal feelings of not wanting to profit off of his unfortunate passing I allowed them to use it for nothing. Perhaps some would say that is foolish but it just did not seem right to me to hold it for ransom and try to profit from Mr. Snider’s death like that.

It truly was an honor to think that something I created was going to be part of such an important and memorable night in Flyers’ history. Some things in this world should not be about money. The recognition I was receiving and the response from the family, team and entire Flyers’ fan base was more than enough. To know something that I created touched so many people and gave them a visual to represent that they were feeling is all an artist can ask for.

While I will refrain from speaking about the outcome of the game itself or the behavior of some of the “fans” in attendance, the night was otherwise absolutely amazing. It was humbling and frankly a little surreal to see thousands of people walking around you wearing something I created. To see it up on the screen along with all the historic images of this team and Mr. Snider was an honor I will never forget.

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Thank you to the Flyers organization for your appreciation of my work, the opportunity and memories you helped to make for my family and I.

Thank you to Sarena, Jay and the entire Snider Family. Your kind words of appreciation and your warm generosity are a tribute to the kind of man your Father was. Meeting you and your family was an absolute pleasure. Inviting us into your private suite on such an important and emotional night meant the world to my family and I, which really made us feel special.

Finally, thank you Mr. Snider. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for your generosity, Thank you for your example. Thank you for all you built and left for us that we will continue to enjoy it and pass it down to the next generation. Thank you for being you! You may be gone but will never be forgotten. RIP.

Many people have asked me about where they can buy one of the shirts. I appreciate the interest, but at the moment there is not a way to purchase one legally and officially. I am currently working on it and have spoken both with the Flyers as well as the Snider family about making something available in the future with the proceeds going to the Ed Snider Foundation. Once again, I am not looking to profit from the unfortunate event and hopefully one day soon something will be worked out. As Mr. Snider taught us through his charitable actions this is how it should be done, and not done for profit or personal gain.

Here are some pictures from the event was well as some pictures of Flyers fans in Washington before game 2.
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2 Comments

  1. Robert
    November 18, 2016

    Looks like that photo of you taken in 1980 was at the old Gold Medal on Bustleton Ave.

    Reply
    • David
      November 21, 2016

      Actually no. That is Schuester’s (Not sure I spelled that correctly) shoes in Berlin, NJ.

      Reply

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