How a South Jersey artist created NJ Devils' Gender Equality jerseys

Danielle Cartier is a ball of artistic energy, so it's no surprise her designs are full of color, movement, light and vibrancy.

That spirit helped the Malaga resident get chosen to create special skate-around jerseys for the New Jersey Devils' recent Gender Equality Night earlier this month.

"I thought, why not? It's open to any New Jersey artist, and I'm a Jersey artist!" she said on a sunny day inside her light-soaked DC Gallery & Studios in the midst of Millville's Glasstown Arts District. Cartier saw a call for artists on the New Jersey Council for the Arts website, and decided to take a shot.

The Devils selected her design "based on her strong submission to our Artist Open Call and her beautiful portfolio of work," said Jillian Frechette, the Devils' senior vice president of marketing in an email. "Danielle took a unique approach, using textiles to create the design. She was an incredible person to work with."

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The NHL and efforts to diversify

Gender Equality Night is part of the National Hockey League's Hockey Is For Everyone campaign, an effort to "drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities," according to the website.

That sentiment hasn't been universally shared: The Flyers' Ivan Provorov didn't wear the Pride-themed jerseys his team wore for its pregame skate-around in January, citing his religious beliefs. San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer, also citing religious beliefs, declined to wear a Pride-themed jersey and did not start the March 18 game, which was Pride Night at the SAP Center.

Cartier, who grew up in California but spent much of her childhood visiting family in Michigan, skating and playing hockey on frozen lakes, acknowledged the sport isn't as diverse as others, and said she was grateful to the Devils and the NHL for working toward greater inclusion.

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The feedback she received from fans on social media was overwhelmingly positive, and even the few negative comments didn't bother her: "I'm an artist, so I'm used to being dogged," she smiled.

"Gender is a topic that's so difficult to talk about for so many reasons," she noted. She was inspired by the many women the Devils chose to highlight, by her students at Stockton and Rowan universities, and by young people she's known who may have struggled but found happiness living authentically.

"The feedback tied to Danielle's design was terrific," said Frechette. "Both staff and our fans loved the final execution." An online auction of autographed jerseys grossed more than $27,000 to benefit Newark-based Girls Live Love and Laugh, a youth-based nonprofit.

Gender and identity as a collage

Cartier's artistic process is purely analog: She uses paints and textiles and created designs for the practice jerseys on physical canvases first.

"I relate to the idea of a collage," she explained. "Assembly of a collage is like assembling your gender, your identity, yourself. It's all bits and pieces: some of them are learned, some are already there. It's about constructing your identity as a human being."

The Devils reached out to her in late September and she began working on the designs in October. In addition to the main logos on the front and back of the jerseys, she created New Jersey-shaped patches for the sleeves and more designs for t-shirts for sale on the Devils' website.

The only parameters: Keep the Devils logo and branding in mind, and don't use royal blue (the color of the New York Rangers, the Devils' Metropolitan Division rivals).

A full-time professional artist, Cartier was paid for the work, but she said the message and the prestige of working for a major professional sports team were the real rewards for her. Her mother flew in from the West Coast and they attended the game at the Prudential Center in Newark; her designs were featured not just on the practice jerseys and other apparel, but also on the scoreboard and electronic signage throughout the game.

After living in South Jersey for the last five years, Cartier is well aware Flyers fandom runs deep and true in the region.

Still, she said, when people ask her if she's a Devils fan, her answer is, "I am now!"

Phaedra Trethan has been a reporter and editor in South Jersey since 2007 and has called the region home since 1971. Contact her at, on Twitter @wordsbyPhaedra, or by phone at 856.486-2417.

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This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: NHL: Devils select Millville NJ artist for gender equality design