How history shaped the shield for our newest college

November saw the official opening of our tenth college, named after Yorkshire diarist Anne Lister. Often described as the first modern lesbian, Anne’s life and her recent television portrayal gave our students plenty to work with when they were asked to design a shield for the college.

With another competition about to launch for our next college, here’s more about our part in the judging and design.

The competition

Overseen by Sarah Hay, Anne Lister College Manager, the competition was launched in February 2021. Phil Roberts (Senior Graphic Designer) created eye-catching graphics which were used by Laura Robinson (Communications and Marketing Manager for DTEF) and Sam Gaunt (Content Producer for DTEF) for a full digital campaign.

Students were asked to capture the spirit of Anne Lister in a shield and associated college colour(s), which could be sent as quick sketches or fully designed graphics. 

Choosing a winner

We were blown away by the quality and creativity of the 58 entries that we received, and we had a tough time whittling down the entries but ultimately chose a design by Biology student and Goodricke College member, Holly Burdon. 

Holly’s design

Although many of the designs were accompanied by thoughtful and detailed explanations of the design choices, we were particularly impressed with the way Holly combined the various elements as shown in this excerpt from her entry:

  • The Lister crest, a stag, is something important to incorporate and may even make a good college mascot! Usually the stag is placed above a helmet but this has been replaced with a top hat.
  • The hat, although not necessarily ever worn by Anne herself or mentioned in her diaries, is a nod to the period drama “Gentleman Jack”. The costume designers did extensive research and felt that a top hat was most representative of Anne Lister’s personality and status and of lesbian culture of that era.
  • The hat also represents the shattering of gender stereotypes and could be a symbol of how the college would be a champion for inclusivity and overcoming barriers to success.

The final tweaks

The next step was to work with Holly to get the design ready for use in different locations and formats. After an initial chat with the wider judging panel, Phil and Holly got together over Zoom to refine the design.

With nine college identities in use for the University, Holly’s original design would need to stand out on its own while also fitting seamlessly into the group to become part of our wider University brand. But we didn’t want to take anything away from Holly’s vision, which attracted the judging panel to the design in the first place.

The next steps were to look at the balance of colour and scale alongside our existing group of college shields, asking practical questions about how it would work in single colour, or how detail would be seen at different scales. 

Holly and Phil worked together to fine-tune colour, composition and detail, making sure Holly could offer her own creative solutions for the final preparations as the shield was recreated in design software ready for everyday use.

“Working with Holly, and helping to develop a design that has such strong motivation toward inclusivity, has been a real highlight of the last year.”

Phil Roberts, Senior Graphic Designer in the Communications team

From idea to implementation 

We’ve loved seeing the shield being used across a range of digital and print items, and being proudly worn by College staff and students. All of Phil and Holly’s hard work means the shield works well on everything from lanyards to web pages.

The shield shown embroidered on a hoodie

Feeling inspired?

The University is opening David Kato College in September 2022 and we’re asking students to pick up their pencils, pens or mice and send their ideas for another new college shield.

Find out more and get involved

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