Designing for WordCamp US

About WordCamp US

This year I was a part of the Design Team for WordCamp US 2019 – a massive conference bringing WordPress users together from all over the world.

The WordPress community is powered by amazing people who support each other and contribute to the growth of WordPress. If you are a WordPress user and have not yet attended a WordCamp – either local or regional – I strongly recommend that you do!  You will meet and make true connections with people who share similar passions in work and life, and have a blast in the process.

In fact, WordCamp Calgary is coming up May 2020, maybe you can start there!!!

I digress…

I Love a Good Design Challenge!

Being a part of the Design Team for WordCamp US was both an honour and a challenge. This year’s event was hosted by the City of St. Louis, Missouri.

Living in Calgary (Canada) and knowing little to nothing about St. Louis, it was quite a daunting task to create graphics that would speak to both locals and attendees from outside the city!

Leading up to the conference, I was tasked with two main projects:

  • Project 1: Create a fun and unique Wapuu character that would act as both a mascot for the event, and also symbolize a significant feature about St. Louis.
  • Project 2: Design a t-shirt graphic (for attendees, volunteers and organizers) that fully encompassed the 2019 WordCampUS brand while also representing the host city in a creative way.

Research First

Earlier in the branding stages for WordCamp US 2019, the Design Team set up a Brand Design inspiration post highlighting details about the city – specifically local landmarks, favourite local places worth visiting, local design trends, stereotypes to avoid, etc. 

There was a wealth of information to pull creative inspiration from, and it was extremely helpful for me, being a designer from out of town. 

Wapuu Louie Design

original wapuu
Original Wapuu

You’re probably wondering ‘what the heck is a Wapuu?!’

Wapuu originated as a fun WordPress mascot, designed for an early WordCamp in Tokyo – which has exploded into a worldwide collectors obsession within the WordPress community.

I had the pleasure of designing Wahoo Wapuu for the 2019 WordCamp Calgary, which featured Wapuu wearing a white cowboy hat, embracing the Calgary Saddledome with the Calgary Tower in behind.  The final character represented Calgary’s famous landmarks and the annual Calgary Stampede rodeo and fair.

Wapuu Louie
Wapuu Louie – WordCamp US ’19

So for WordCamp US, I decided to draw from the fact that St. Louis is a BIG baseball city, and their team – the St. Louis Cardinals – has a Cardinal bird as part of their branding. It was the perfect fit, using an animal and transforming it into a costume that Wapuu could sport for the conference – especially since the event took place on Halloween weekend 😉

‘Wapuu Louie’ was a hit with our team, was incorporated in our sticker swag and even made into a metallic pin for event volunteers to add to their Wapuu collections.

During the event, we had several attendees asking where they could get their hands on the Cardinal Wapuu pin! It was awesome 🙂

T-Shirt Graphic

My vision was to design something as simple as possible, which was a challenge considering all the possible elements that could have been incorporated.  

  • The Gateway Arch landmark was certainly a no-brainer. 
  • City Museum – where our WordFest after party was held – is essentially a building that’s been transformed into a giant adult playground!
  • The Fleur de Lis symbol seems to be a design trend in St. Louis.
  • Toasted ravioli is a MUST EAT.

The list goes on and on.

In the end, my design focussed on the Gateway Arch landmark with a partial city skyline, encircled with baseball stitching elements, and of course the WordPress logo inside.

The shirts were very well received during the event, with attendees requesting additional t-shirts to take home to their families.

WordCamp US t-shirt graphic
WordCamp US t-shirt design

Post Event Reflection

Being an organizer for WordCamp US was a priceless experience and I’m planning to do it again next year! While on-site at the event, I worked with an absolutely amazing team of 46 other passionate organizers who together made the event a great success. 

I returned home with so many ideas which I hope to apply to Calgary’s WordCamp 2020 conference. 

Maybe I’ll meet you there?!

Seriously… you should come!


  1. Hi Jaime – ah, the arch is close to my Suomi heart! This is why: The Arch was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1947; construction began on February 12, 1963 and was completed on October 28, 1965 at an overall cost of $13 million (equivalent to $80.6 million in 2018).

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