The Intersection of Spectacular Design and The Beautiful Game

Art connects to all aspects of life, even soccer, and when we saw Laura Mills’ artwork for several lower league clubs, we knew we had to share it with our audience. As is normal for our site, when we approached Laura about allowing us to display some of her soccer themed work, we sent her a list of questions we planned to build into a short introduction paragraph. However, when she responded with such clarity and personality, we felt it just made more sense to post her responses as they came back to us. Basically letting her speak for herself.

Meet Laura Mills

1. Where are you from?

Born and raised in Indiana, went to IU, spent some time in Madison, WI after college, then Flagstaff, AZ.. then moved back to Indianapolis.

2. What inspires you about soccer?

Everything. The passion, the supporters, the culture, and the universality of the sport. There is no other sport that has that kind of draw on every continent—we always say that, “the world’s game”—but it really is remarkable. 

The game itself, of course, It’s been my love since I was little. When I was young, it was just a fun game where you got to run around with friends, as I got older and understood the game, learned to appreciate the tactics, and fell in love with my position (as a goalkeeper), the more my love for it grew. For as long as I’ve watched and played the sport, I feel like I’m always learning and observing more. It really is a beautiful game, there’s a fluidity about it—even when you watch little kids play, they run around the pitch like the ball has a magnetic pull—it’s tactical chaos—but still possesses that fluidity. And there’s nothing better than watching a build-up out of the back that weaves the ball through another team for a scoring opportunity. 

On the supporter’s side, there really is nothing like it… it’s not like being a colts fan or a pacers fan… to be an Indy Eleven supporter or a LAFC or Liverpool “supporter” is something else. I mean, we insist on calling it that because it truly does feel like it’s more than just being a “fan”. When you stand in a supporters group, you’re a part of something larger, you’re a part of a community. The BYB, the 3252, even little LFCindy are all great examples of that.

3. Who have you worked for, doing graphic design in soccer?

Formally, only Indy Eleven, but I’ve done some projects on the side out of a desire to help a club rebrand that may not have the budget for it (like the Indy Saints logo) or just out of boredom/in response to something I read on soccertwitter (like the “Dead Whale Crest” or the Endless Summer series I just did for Atlantic City FC).

4. Which piece of the one's we're displaying are you most proud?

I suppose it’d be the stained glass poster, based on the reaction it got from Indy Eleven supporters. I mean, when someone asks to tattoo the design on their body, it’s hard not to be incredibly proud and flattered by that. 

I think I’ve made some this year that I’m pretty fond of, though, I loved it intricacy of the Matt Watson poster and the simplicity of the geometric shape posters that followed. I hope to produce a couple more good ones before the end of the season. 

5. How do you create an image? What's your thought process/actual process?

It depends on the project, of course, when it comes to the Indy eleven posters, in past years they’ve pushed “theme nights”, but this year they really gave us creative license to do whatever. That kind of freedom can be really exciting and inspiring, but it can also be a little crippling, at least for me. This year, I knew from the start that I wanted to do a poster that featured the coaches and one that played off the Obama portrait, beyond that... it’s a bit of a passive process for me, the best inspiration usually comes when I’m about halfway through a different idea...but if it’s good, I’ll follow where it takes me, it usually results in something better than the idea I started with.

I wish I could say I have a more refined process or a signature style, but I really don’t. I think that’s something that probably comes with time, but not being a full-time gig, I may always work this way. 

6. Goals moving forward?

Design-wise, I would like to keep doing game day posters for Indy Eleven or any other club that’s interested, as long as I have the time to do it. Design can be incredibly time-consuming, but if the end product gets a good reception, it’s worth the time spent. 

I would love to get my hands on some more lower league crests, as well, so much room for good design, among them. 

Professionally, I hope to make a transition into working in professional soccer, full-time. It’s something I’ve been working toward for a few years now. It’s a tough world to crack, but as I found out this summer, it is where I should be and where I thrive. So, I’m definitely looking forward to that next chapter and the next club! I hope to have news to share on that front soon.

7. Ever play soccer?

All my life, and continue to play in 3 or 4 leagues indoor and outdoor, year round. Being a girl AND a keeper makes me pretty sought after on the co-ed circuit!  

8. If someone wants to buy your work, what do they do?

That’s a great question! And to be honest, not something I’ve thought of, but I am looking for a good print shop that can do some smaller runs for me. When I track that down, I would love to be able to get prints made for those interested!

I think you may still be able to buy a shirt with the NCFC whale bones logo on it from the oak city supporters. And I would love to do something with the Providence City anchor design that never really got put to use! SoccerTwitter will be the first to know if I open up some orders on my work! 

Lola Vaughn