Pantless mascot? W&M's got an app for that

  • A new wardrobeA new application allows users to clothe William & Mary's mascot in a variety of outfits, including this football uniform.

    A new wardrobe
  • Monocled mascotThe new application allows users to choose from over 100 items or 15 different ensembles, which include clothing, backgrounds and sound effects.

    Monocled mascot
  • Griffin on the iPadThe free app is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android devices. It may be downloaded from the Android Market and the App Store.

    Griffin on the iPad

William & Mary has a mascot in need of a stylist – and you can help.

The new “Dress the Griffin” mobile application, developed by the Office of Creative Services, allows users to dress an image of William & Mary’s mascot in a variety of outfits, from a football uniform to a top hat and tails.

“We all agreed we wanted to do something fun, something for the whole College community,” said Mark Windley, project manager.

The app features a large image of the Griffin, which users can dress with 100 individual items or 15 themed ensembles, which include unique pieces of clothing, backgrounds and sound effects. Once users are happy with the ensembles they’ve created, they can save the images and then share them via outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

The free app is available for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android devices. It may be downloaded from the Android Market and the App Store. For people who do not own a smart phone, many of the Griffin’s outfits are available for viewing on Flickr. Additionally, the app has been loaded on devices at the Tribe Computer Store, at 110 North Boundary St., and may be viewed there.

Susan Evans, director of creative services, assures all Tribe fans that building a wardrobe for the actual mascot wasn't part of the effort. For now, there are no plans to dress the Griffin beyond the app, but maybe it will generate some good ideas, she said.

The members of the creative services team met last year for a brainstorming session on what kind of app the College should create.

“(Apps are) another new tool,” said Tiffany Broadbent, Web programmer. “We are always looking forward and evaluating the latest technologies.”

Many other colleges and universities simply have a mobile version of their website as their official app. However, William & Mary already has a mobile website. "Research has shown that people heavily use their smartphones, iPods and iPads as gaming devices," said Joel Pattison, associate director of creative services. Therefore, the team decided to do something that would be lighthearted and could be enjoyed by a variety of people – from students, faculty and staff to alumni and their children.

After developing some initial clothing ideas in meetings, team members placed large poster boards around their offices so that colleagues could leave additional ideas for outfits and accessories.

“It allowed people to be more free and open (about their ideas), and it was also a lot of fun,” said Windley.

After another meeting was held to narrow down the ideas, the task of drawing each outfit was given to intern Rachel Follis ’11.

Drawing vector graphics in Photoshop with a pen tool, she created all of the items that are used in the app. Follis, an art major who plans on becoming a professional graphic designer, said that the team wanted to use designs that would be iconic yet also relevant to William & Mary. Therefore, among her drawings are a few student outfits (based on things Follis has seen her fellow students wearing), a Green Leafe mug and a shirt featuring President Taylor Reveley.

Once Follis’ drawings were done, Pattison “sliced” them into the types of files that could be used by the different devices. He also created a set of backgrounds, some based on popular campus locations. Broadbent worked on all of the programming for the app. She spent two months writing the code for the Apple and the Android versions of the app – both of which use completely different programming languages.

Justin Schoonmaker, Web and multimedia designer, was later brought into the project to create and gather sound effects for each of the themes. One of the sound effects even features Reveley, in his trademark voice, saying “Marvelous.”

Windley said that the other members of creative services who were not directly involved in the app’s creation still helped with the project by doing things like picking up extra work so that the others could more fully concentrate on the creation of the app.

“I think that was the most satisfying aspect of the project,” said Windley. “It was a big team effort.”

Finally, in December the team sent the app to the Apple store for approval, which, to their surprise, took only four days. The next month, they completed the Android version.

This is the first app that creative services has produced, and much was learned in the process, said Windley.

“Now we know what to expect,” he said. “It’s certainly not the last application we’ll ever build.”

As they officially send the Griffin and its new wardrobe into the world, they hope that a wide range of users will enjoy it.

Pattison said he hopes the app will show that the College “has a sense of humor and doesn’t take itself too seriously.”

He said he also hopes that the app will help people continue to embrace the Griffin, which was only revealed as the College’s new mascot in April 2010, less than one year ago.

Shortly after its unveiling, William & Mary alumnus and comedian Jon Stewart joked about "Griffin" being ancient Greek for “the rare pantless, tailed eagle.”

Now, at least digitally, the Griffin will be pantless no more.