The story of Art Evans and all your favorite college mascots

Photo courtesy: @KyleUmlang on Twitter

Have you ever wondered why so many vintage mascots look the same? Or better yet, why are so many of them wearing sailor hats?

Picture this: It's 1963, and you're checking out a trade advertisement from Angelus. In that ad, they proudly flaunt not just a few but over 100 of their sensational mascot designs. We're talking about the absolute crème de la crème of college sports icons. From the legendary Duke Blue Devil to the Purdue Boilermaker and the iconic Tommy Trojan of USC—these mascots are the stuff of legend. It was a staggering showcase of power for the company. But what's even more staggering is to know every design came from one person.

Enter Arthur (Art) Evans.

Evans was the head artist for the Angelus Pacific Co. of Fullerton from 1932 until 1977. Angelus was known for decals, prints, and more. The company eventually found its way into the college bookstore scene and the rest was history. At the time, the word "licensing" was not on the radar, so Angelus could go from bookstore to bookstore and pitch these mascot designs. Once Art drew a perfect mascot, if other schools used the same animal, Art used the same logo. It wasn't unheard of at the time. And it certainly wasn't copying. It was just resourceful.

But remember, he wasn't just reusing logos; he was also creating the unforgettable likes of mascots like Benny the Beaver, the Slobbering Wolf of NC State, and Ramses from UNC—to name a few. The list of Evans' masterpieces goes on and on. Over his incredible 45-year journey, he single-handedly crafted what many consider the most legendary collection of mascots ever seen. The man was an era all by himself.


Photo courtesy: Reddit CFB

Alright, but what about those sailor hats? Well, legend has it that first-year students were instructed to sport these. The idea behind it was simple: it helped upperclassmen identify the newcomers and lend a helping hand whenever necessary. Now, here's where it gets intriguing. Did Art have a deep affection for sailor hats? Or was he simply well aware of this tradition? Maybe both? That's up to you to decide.

Art's background is also unclear. Some claim that he once graced the hallowed halls of Disney with his artistic talent. Others suggest he had a close connection to a prominent figure in Angelus. While the exact truth may elude us, one thing remains certain: we are eternally grateful to Art for his invaluable contributions to the world of college mascots.

And to bring it all full circle. Yes, the art legend was named Art. Movie script-type stuff.

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  • Denis Etonach

    Very cool. But freshmen didn’t wear sailor caps on campus back in the day — they wore beanies. Google “freshman beanies” and you’ll find a lot about it.

  • Chris

    The grandson of the Angelus Pacific Co. founder claimed Mr. Evans was a merchant marine, thus his penchant for sailor hats on some of his creations.
    Evans’ Boilermaker Pete (created in 1940) is wearing a hat folded from a sheet of newspaper, because boilermakers hammered hot rivets and the paper hat would prevent sparks from igniting their hair.

  • Kevin

    Sailor hats? I always thought those were little dutch ovens.

  • Alex

    Fullerton, my town!

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