When the Bellingham Traverse started in 2001, the founder Todd Elsworth partnered with a local designer Loren Bates from 360 Productions to create the original logo. The goal was to create a symbolic brand based on the lifecycle of wild salmon.
In his blog post about the history of the Traverse, Elsworth wrote that with the original logo he wanted to show “the multifaceted elements that salmon bring to our society – including the economic, social, and cultural elements. I wanted to have the artwork be a reflection of the original art of the Peoples of the Northwest Coast.”
Inspiration for the logo was drawn from the simplistic anatomical features shown in the two-dimensional artwork of the Northwest Coastal Tribes and the three-dimensional artwork of the more northern First Nation People.
“The first draft that Loren created had the salmon rotating in a circle and what caught my eye was the tail fins and how they resembled the same shape of a human hand. The progression of the logo was to have Loren more intentionally show the tail as a human hand to create symbolism. Integrating the human hand in its animalistic form showed the care and feeding the Natives had done for the fish in the past,” wrote Elsworth.
The story and concept behind the Traverse logo is loved by the community.
Local artists and Coast Salish People felt the logo was very respectful, thoughtfully constructed, and captured the mindset of the first peoples, however, they also noted that they could tell it was a mashup of several artistic styles and likely created by a non-native person.
With the Traverse coming back for the first time since 2019, it felt like the perfect time to refresh the logo. Pacific Multisport partnered with Coast Salish artist Joseph Johnson, a canoeist who both teaches native kids how to paddle on Lake Whatcom and races himself. Joe refreshed the Traverse logo and made it true and authentic to the Coast Salish Peoples’ artistic style while preserving the original vision behind the logo. The resulting logo was not just beautiful and authentic, but also captured the Traverse’s history.