When LSU art and religious studies senior Katie Hostetler was in fifth grade, she entered an art competition to design a flag that would be sent to the Moon for a space mission.
“I ended up coming in second place and was devastated that my artwork wouldn’t be going into outer space,” she shared.
Katie, who has loved art since she was young, went on to study graphic design in the LSU School of Art. When she had another chance to design for a space mission to the Moon, this time the patch logo design for the Tiger Eye I mission, she jumped at the opportunity.
“I knew that this would be possibly a once-in-a-lifetime chance to design something like this,” she said. “It was awesome to be chosen.”
The Tiger Eye I mission logo that Katie designed will be etched onto LSU-made technology that will travel to the Moon next year on IM-1, the first commercial research mission to the lunar surface in cooperation with NASA. This will be the first time the U.S. astronauts land on the Moon since the Apollo program in 1972. The logo has been displayed at the International Space Station, as seen in photos by astronauts:
The interdisciplinary collaboration that led to this galactic mission brought together faculty and students from across LSU’s campus, spearheaded by Jeffery Chancellor, assistant professor of physics.
Chancellor’s research investigates astronaut health and performance during future long-duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit. His research team at Space Radiation Transport & Applied Nuclear (SpaRTAN) physics laboratory developed a sensor that will measure cosmic radiation levels on the surface of the Moon, to help protect astronauts and equipment.
The project, dubbed the Tiger Eye I mission, was in need of an emblematic space flight mission logo design, to artistically communicate the groundbreaking technology developed by LSU researchers. Who better to design the mission patches than LSU art & design students?
Courtney Barr, associate professor of graphic design, introduced the project to the Graphic Design Student Office (GDSO), a team of graphic design undergraduate and graduate students. With creative direction from Barr and professors of graphic design Lynne Baggett and Luisa Restrepo, and direct feedback from the SpaRTAN lab, the graphic design team developed a series of design solutions inspired by the decades-long historical precedent of space mission patches.
This project presented a design challenge that was completely new to the GDSO team, Barr said. “Jeff Chancellor gave us an idea of what visual direction he would be interested in, and he also explained that these mission patches often have a great deal of symbolism,” she said. “There’s a great opportunity with this sort of challenge to integrate messaging that the average person might not even be aware of, but it makes it meaningful to the mission team.”
The final selected design that Katie created combines the iconic LSU brand tiger eye with a retro-inspired rocket illustration.
The mission logo serves as an identifying emblem for all mission team members, as a way of encouraging camaraderie, Barr said. The design functions as an embroidered patch on garments and as a logo to be used in across a range of mediums to promote the mission and inform the public.
“My inspiration for the Tiger Eye I patch design was quite simple,” Katie said. “I wanted the design of the patch to give a straight-forward depiction of what the mission is about and who it represents. I used LSU’s iconic purple and gold colors all throughout the patch to let people know that this is an accomplishment of LSU.”
Since the mission entails sending a device to the Moon that detects radiation that may be harmful to astronauts, the tiger eye in the design not only represents LSU and the mission name, but also symbolizes a protective force. “In a way, the tiger is looking down on the mission. The position of the eye over the moon represents an ‘all-seeing eye’ that is overlooking the mission and protecting humans from potential harm,” she said.
Katie has worked as a design intern for LSU Creative Services, creating designs for LSU athletics. She said that while she was thrilled that her design concept was chosen for the project, the graphic design creative process was a collaborative effort. “I really enjoyed working with the other students in GDSO, seeing the different concepts that they came up with, and sharing ideas.”
There are endless ways to create with graphic design, she said. “To me, graphic design is a form of art that allows people to express themselves with very few limits. I love seeing what each person in the graphic design community has to offer with their uniqueness, creativity, and imagination, and seeing other people’s work inspires me to be a better designer and artist.”
Drawing has always been a hobby of Katie’s, but when she learned about graphic design, she realized that there are so many digital tools and programs that can be used to make things that one couldn’t easily create on paper. “When I was little I didn’t really know what graphic design was, but I enjoyed art. I liked playing on the computer and I would go on Microsoft publisher and make graphics – not knowing this would be my career one day.”
And what would young Katie have thought if she could know that one day she’d be designing for a real space mission? “This project would have made fifth grade me proud.”
LSU Graphic Design Team
Faculty/Staff: Courtney Barr, Lynne Baggett, Luisa Restrepo, Derick Ostrenko, Kitty Pheney
Graphic Design Student Office:
Undergraduates: Katie Hostetler, Coby Naquin, Samantha Smitley, Morgan Lewis
Graduates: Hernan Andres Gonzales, Jerry Lockaby, Nhu Nguyen