A strange and surprising avenue has led me to post again today. Across my internet browsings came this story about a biker gang in New Zealand. Among the many patches and doo-dads you can see on their various jackets and vests is what appears to be the gang's official "logo" featuring a bulldog. When I saw it, I immediately knew what I was looking at: the Gonzaga University Bulldog.
I was first introduced to this very distinctive-looking canine all the way back in the mid 1980's when I was a student at Beacon Hill Elementary school in Chicago Heights, IL. I liked to draw a lot, even back then, and by most accounts I was good at it for my age. So when we were all told by our teachers one year that there would be a contest to draw the school's mascot (surprise: a bulldog) for some sweatshirts that we would be given, I jumped at the chance to do so, and drew the best darn bulldog I could muster. I thought for sure they would use my supremely excellent bulldog drawing. It was not to be. I must have experienced what was my first-ever creative disappointment that year, because there was another boy that drew another bulldog that the school chose instead of mine. His was a really good bulldog. I was envious.
Fast-forward a decade or so later, and I got my first exposure to what I would later learn is the official logo/mascot for Gonzaga University athletics. Lo and behold, it was the exact same bulldog I saw on those elementary school sweatshirts so many years prior. I felt a tiny bit of outrage for my 8-year-old self. That other kid hadn't drawn his own bulldog, he copied one that had been designed and illustrated by an adult professional! The nerve!
To be fair, I don't mean to condemn the former actions of a gradeschooler, he was just a kid doing what kids do. But that event did solidify in my mind the notion that images could be stolen, and I was somewhat mortified. It also solidified in my head what this exact bulldog looks like, and to cut my former classmate some slack, he was apparently not the first or last person to think "that's a mighty fine-looking bulldog, I think I'll use it", because holy cow have I seen that bulldog everywhere. I've seen it on t-shirts and in logos for small-scale trucking and tire companies. Public schools of various types are relatively shameless about logo-stealing, probably often because the powers-that-be are unaware or simply don't care that the images they're soliciting, either from their students or from some likely under-paid and under-scrupled designer, are in fact not original designs. Only a few years ago, a high school in Florida was nearly sued for using the Dodge Ram logo.
Gonzaga's famous pooch has been modified and looks somewhat crude on the patches of the Mighty Mongrel Mob motorcycle gang, but it is unmistakably derived from the same logo. I suppose the designer (whomever they are) should be proud, because apparently they designed the definitive bulldog-as-logo. I can't seem to escape it. Having now seen it show up on everything from grade-school sweatshirts to Kiwi cuts, I'm fairly convinced I'll see it crop up every few years until my last.