Heraldry Society Biennial Congress: Aug. 9-12, 2018

Several months ago, I was invited to present a paper at the Heraldry Society’s 2018 Biennial Congress at the University of Winchester. The paper, “The Clan Crawford Association Armorial: An Independent Armorial for the Scottish Diaspora”, was well-received. Being the first independent armorial of its kind, there was much to cover: objectives, guidelines, design process, etc. You can read an abridged version of this paper in the latest issue of The Heraldic Craftsman (no. 100).

I’m very proud to say that also I’ve been made a member of the Society of Heraldic Arts.

Following the Congress, my distant cousin Raymond and I embarked on a road trip through the countryside and back roads of Hampshire, the New Forest, Sussex, and Kent. It would take a short book to relate all that followed: an Iron Age hill fort; a black-tie dinner; a stay at the home of the 9th Baronet Kilbirnie; a visit to Saint Hill Manor, once owned by Raymond’s family but now the UK headquarters of the Scientologists; an evening of fencing matches after a thirty-year hiatus; swimming in a pool under a plastic canopy; dowsing for drainage pipes with wire hangers to find a church’s plumbing issue, zip-lining through treetops with a precocious nine year-old, and much more. It was quite an adventure, and a complete delight.

My sincere thanks to the Heraldry Society, Raymond Crawfurd,  John and Jane Tunesi of Liongam, Bill Beaver, Sir Robert Craufurd, Lady Georgina Craufurd, and everyone else who made my stay in the UK such a pleasure and a privilege.

Now Accepting Commissions for Heraldic Designs

I’m now officially hanging my shingle as a heraldic designer for Americans who wish to assume their own arms.

I’m also the designer for the Clan Crawford Association’s Armorial Project. The CCA appears to be the first clan association to establish this kind of independent heraldic register.

Since the US has no regulating body for civilian heraldry, it’s important that Americans seeking to assume arms consult with people who know the rules and traditions of heraldry, and are able to bring them into a synthesis that is practical and relevant in an American context.

Heraldry has been an interest of mine for almost forty years. I specialize in making emblems, badges, sigils, seals, bookmarks, coats of arms, and flags.

When designing traditional coats of arms, I obey the principles of good heraldic design: proper usage of colors, simplicity of imagery, etc. My designs are bold and flat because they are symbols, not pictures. They are meant to be immediately recognized from a distance; that was their original purpose.

I like to get a basic family background (country of origin, ethnicity, any heraldic traditions in the family) then get the individual bearer’s personal background (profession, interests, etc) and finally their aspirations or ideals, things that they find symbolically significant. I synthesize all three of these aspects and make emblems that are strong, simple, and lasting.

Basic fee for designing a coat of arms is $300. It includes two rounds of revisions and two files: a JPEG for online use and a PDF for print use. Adapting artwork for a flag is $150 extra. All designs are owned entirely by the bearer, and are able to be resized to suit many uses.

Again, I don’t just do heraldry: if shields and helmets aren’t your thing, and you want something more modern, I also design personal badges and flags.

For more information on American heraldry, visit the website of the American Heraldry Society, which does a good job of laying down the basic principles. If you want to register your arms for posterity visit the Society of American Armigers.

Contact: allen(at)allencrawford.net.

Pine Barrens Film: First Official Trailer

The Pine Barrens – trailer 01 from David Scott Kessler on Vimeo.

For the past four years I’ve been assisting my good friend the brilliant filmmaker and Pew Fellow David Kessler on his atmospheric, oblique, poetic film. Add the beautiful film score by The Ruins of Friendship Orchestra (Benjamin Warfield, Laura Baird, John Robert Pettit, Jesse Sparhawk, and Gretchen Lohse) and you have something that in the decades to come will be revered and cherished–not only as a great collaborative artistic achievement, but also as a lyrical document of a specific place and time that nevertheless transcends itself into dream.

As someone who loves this precious, threatened place, The Pine Barrens is the film I had always hoped someone would make of the Pine Barrens. I will always be in David’s debt for having devoted his considerable artistic energies to it. It’s been an honor, privilege, and joy to play a small part in its fruition. My congratulations to David and the Ruins crew on making this masterpiece happen. Stay tuned for live screenings/musical performances later in the year.

In Defense of “Unreadable” Books

A case for “unreadable” books like mine: “In 2010, psychologists at Princeton University published “Fortune Favors the Bold (and the Italicized),” a study demonstrating that people have better recall of what they’ve read when it is printed in smaller, less legible type. Texts presented in unusual typefaces (…) created “disfluency” in readers, triggering deeper processing and significantly improved retention. When people are forced to stare at something to decipher what it says, it sticks with them.”