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Case Study: How Coolstub Designs Art from Retro Sports Tickets

By Whitney DePaoli | Case Studies

Greg Durbin has spent the past several years collecting thousands of vintage sports tickets and memorabilia for the sake of sports fans everywhere. He is the co-founder of Coolstub, a company that turns historic sports artifacts into watches, canvas art, apparel, drink coasters, and other totally unique gifts that can’t be found anywhere else. If you’re a diehard sports fan, you’ve probably even heard of them (or own an item or two)! Durbin’s collection of memorabilia has grown to over 10,000 pieces over the years, and amazingly, he thought of the concept for Coolstub before the collection even started. 

“Over the years, people have asked me if we previously collected ticket stubs and we did not. I thought unique sports gifts created from historic sports ticket images would have appeal and we started searching for and acquiring thousands of vintage sports tickets and other historic sports memorabilia. Coolstub is currently focused on creating great artistic designs that fans of all teams will love.”
coolstub coasters for sports fans

Durbin was right when he thought that Coolstub would appeal to the masses. Just a few months after launching, they were featured on ESPN.com and gained over 15,000 visitors to their website over the course of two days. When you look at their product offering, it’s easy to see why. Everything is made from rare finds like historic sports ticket stubs, vintage football programs, baseball scorecards, basketball art, and other classic retro sports memorabilia from boxing, hockey, and track and field events. These items make truly unique birth year gifts and super cool (and authentic!) retro sports products for fans of all kinds of sports. 

coolstub vintage sports ticket stub watches

As part of managing the entire creative side of Coolstub, Durbin is in charge of product design - aka, transposing those vintage sports items onto watch faces, mugs, apparel, and more. For this task, Durbin has found BeFunky’s Photo Editor to be an important part of his workflow. This often looks like scanning the ticket stubs and turning them into images for uploading, then using tools like Crop and Cutout to transform those images into the right orientation for a watch face, mug, t-shirt design, and more. 

“With over 10,000 historic sports images now in our collection, there are endless designs to be created. BeFunky saves me a great deal of time because I now know which features to use for our different products. Today, I can look at a piece of our vintage sports memorabilia and immediately know which tabs I will be clicking on after the image is uploaded to BeFunky.”
coolstub apparel for sports fans

Since the ticket stubs are so historic (some are over 100 years old!), Durbin also reaches for the Clone tool to smooth out wrinkles and tears in the imagery. This has especially come in handy for his other ticket stub business venture, Row One. Using a similar workflow of uploading a retro ticket stub scan into BeFunky’s Photo Editor, sizing it just right with the Resize tool, and cleaning up the imperfections with the Clone tool, Durbin is able to restore each ticket stub for turning into ready-to-hang canvas art. In other words, he creates entire replicas of vintage ticket stubs with sports team info and all, but in amazing canvas wall art form. 

1941-michigan-football-art-canvas-print-wall-decor (1)

Once the products are designed, Durbin uses BeFunky’s Photo Editor to create the product photography for both Coolstub and Row One’s online shops. This often looks like using the Cutout tool as a background eraser, isolating the product and giving it a clean white (transparent) background, or creating an image layer of the product for adding to another photo - aka creating a mockup. From there, Durbin also uses the Sharpen tool for making the imagery look crisp and the Glow tool to add bling to the shinier merchandise. Browsing through each online shops for Coolstub and Row One, there is a perfectly consistent look and feel in every photo. You can tell that Durbin has a great workflow down. 

“We frequently use BeFunky to edit our product mockups. I love that it’s extremely easy to use and there are so many features. I've spent hundreds of hours on the site using the wide variety of design tools available.”
coolstub mugs for sports fans
Row One canvas art for sports fans

For marketing all of these amazing products, Durbin uses BeFunky’s Graphic Designer to create everything from YouTube thumbnails to social media headers. The customizable design templates have made it easy to create a cohesive look for their YouTube Channel Art, Twitter Header, and other social media imagery. These tools and templates have proven to be beneficial for all of Durbin’s business endeavors, including his freelance design site. With his passion for creativity and the right tools for the job, he’s able to do so many amazing things. His advice for aspiring business owners: 

“Be patient, keep learning new skills, and continue to pursue your passion even if it is in your spare time as a side hustle. The right collaborators and clients will come along when the time is right.”

You can learn more about Coolstub and their amazing retro sports products on their website. There, you’ll find the perfect gifts for all of the sports fans in your life (or for yourself!). And to check out some of Greg Durbin’s favorite tools for editing product photography and more, click the link below.

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified