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2/06/2021 10:16 pm  #1

The Steel Corner - A Creator Spotlight with Scratch

The Steel Corner

February 2021

Welcome back to my monthly(ish) Steel Corner column where for the remainder of the year I'll be focusing on Creator Spotlights as we go around our community and find out what makes our creators tick. I previously interviewed Section30 back in August 2019 and it was a lot of fun. Since our community has grown so much I thought it would be appropriate to pick this back up. We kick off the year by getting into the brain of (in the words of Edgeworth) everyone's favorite mad lad, Thehealthiestscratch, who is usually known around the boards simply as Scratch. He is the creator of several series, including the wild and wacky West Coast Elite Hockey League.

A Creator Spotlight with Thehealthiestscratch

Steel: First things first, for those who don't know, you played collegiate hockey. What was one of your favorite memories of that experience?

Scratch: Yes, I did bounce up and down the Arizona State system for a bit, and it was really special to me. My proudest experience would have to be playing on the college’s top team as a true Freshman, even though I only played ten games that season. My favorite single moment that I hold closest to heart was our PAC 12 championship that was won in my last competitive game. At that point I had ended up on the D2 team, but the feeling that comes from winning hardware stays the same across any level.

Steel: What first inspired you to get into graphic design?

Scratch: I started doing it myself, outside the occasional jersey concept, about two years ago, but that is not where the story starts. I’ve had my own fascination with logo and jersey design since I found CCSLC about 9 years ago, and have been around my best friend’s artistic/creative personality long before that. It was freshman year of college when he let me “borrow” the free download of Photoshop for design students at ASU (he was an industrial design major), and it built from there. Things really ramped up when college ended because he was no longer there to execute my random ideas, so I had to take over and learn the design programs on my own. 

Steel: What was your first-ever sports concept?

Scratch: Great question, because I am not 100% sure. I believe I did do my own personal fictional youth hockey in the USA simulation and design way back, but absolutely none of the logos were mine. The first thing I ever posted was a dumb beer league concept that was lost to time. I think the one that was most impactful early on was my mini WSHL series on CCSLC that got a minor amount of attention. Seeing that people had praise and constructive criticism for teams in such a small league made me realize that my odd, specific interests were shared.

Steel: What programs do you use for your work? Do you also freehand draw or sketch your designs?

Scratch: Originally, I picked up the bad habit of jumping straight in and doing my design without a base from my overly talented friend, but I realized it just did not work for me. I decided to start from scratch and build my process during the three months I was unemployed in 2020, and that process now includes at least some type of sketching. I’d like to say I use illustrator the most because it is what I’ve been moving towards, but I am still stuck on Photoshop. It might be inferior, but it is familiar and that makes it feel easier (even though I am aware that it is probably more difficult). 

Steel: How has the growing community here at AHS played a part in the growth of yourself as a designer?

Scratch: Personally, I use the AHS community as an outlet to be creative and challenge myself by creating random design prompts to overcome. The stories give you that room to play, while being specific enough to give guidelines, and that really helps me, and I can see it helping younger designers who want to do it for a living. I have never been one to stick to a story, mostly because they all feel similar, and once I realize mine creates that same feel as others I usually let it fall off. Nonetheless, the community has really built up to play the role of coal to my fire. Everyone gives praise, criticism, ideas and whatever other input they have, and it really pushes me to do more. 

Steel: We first started working together when you suggested a youth hockey league for my Torland project, utilizing your extensive knowledge of youth hockey. We started a Discord server and began collaborating on concepts. I know that it helped me grow a lot as a designer as we pushed each other. What stands out to you as a highlight from that project? What did you learn from that series?

Scratch: I think the biggest thing I took from that experience was collaboration skills and the confidence to be open with my design. Much before AHS’s own Discord server, this was the most I could do to receive direct, blatant feedback that was needed. My overall highlight was the heightened challenge that was no longer made by me, but given by a restricted, in-depth fiction built by someone else. I think my highlights outside my own design realm would have to be witnessing your accelerated growth with design in such a short period of time, as well as having the opportunity to learn about Torland at such great depth, which makes it feel personal when even the smallest things happen in the THL. (Shoutout to Jonathan “Ferdinand” Walker)

Steel: Thanks! Your most recent series, the West Coast Elite Hockey League, has been a big hit on the boards for its unique brand of surreal, wild, slightly wacky and crazed style of hockey. What inspired creating such a project?

Scratch: I feel like a lot of stories, although good, fit a mold that is not broken. When I was gearing up to make a new league in early 2020, I thought to myself “I know the steam will run out once I get bored with it”. Then I came across a picture of my ASU team playing at the rink in the LA area that housed the first zamboni, and the weird quirk inspired me to go down a rabbit hole of sports oddities. This is what inspired the WCEHL, and my chaotic, sarcastic humor is what mostly carries it, but that is not where it stops. I have a personality that many call the “Investigator” when it comes to the business world, so I always need an answer to “why?” for anything. That is how I get my depth when it comes to my story, and even though the answer to my “why?” is ridiculous at most times, I feel it gives a level of depth that the reader deserves and a laugh for myself that keeps me engaged.

Steel: You've developed a reputation as having a knack for the wild and surreal. You do an excellent job of writing and creating characters and events that seem like they were pulled from some of the best dark comedy TV shows yet somehow all makes sense. What inspires your out-of-the-box creativity?

Scratch: It's my own personal need for justification. To me, the weirdness and comedy gets funnier with even more depth, so when I justify a surface level oddity with another level of odd it feels similar to a standup comedian doing a bit with a recurring joke throughout their set. On the surface it makes no sense, but once the audience is included it gets funnier and funnier as it goes. Before anyone knows it, we are all in a deep hole dug by myself that seems reasonable to anyone in the hole, but confusing for anyone looking in the hole from the surface.

Steel: What's your favorite part of the creative process in designing and presenting a series?

Scratch: My favorite part of the process for my series would have to be starting with a dumb joke I think is funny, and stepping back from it to see how it can be given life. The only reason I enjoy this most is because of the reaction I get back from the community. I like the lighthearted atmosphere of the thread, and if I could make someone laugh or dabble in a reality outside what ours is now I consider it a success. 

Steel: Do you design graphics for a living?

Scratch: Ha! No. Wasn’t even accepted when I applied for UpWork. I got you if you’re looking for insurance in Arizona, though.

Steel: In what areas do you want to continue to grow and push yourself as a designer and creator?

Scratch: I think I just want to get better with the systems I use to create my logos. They are the base of everything I do, and by learning them more the design process becomes easier and faster.

Steel: What is your favorite aspect of the AHS boards and community?

Scratch: I really enjoy the support that goes beyond design. There are so many different types of people that just mesh so well on AHS and it is nice to see what has been built when looking back to the beginning. This website started as a refuge and it is now thriving.

Steel: If you could go back in time and give your rookie designer self a piece of advice, what would it be?

Scratch: Invest time in learning your platform, and don’t take shortcuts. Design becomes so much harder when you don’t know what tools to use, and it becomes embarrassing when you realize you had the tools right in front of you the whole time. Don’t just jump in and be creative, because design is just as much technical.

Steel: Who's your favorite hockey team and player in real life? Which team and player do you dislike the most?

Scratch: San Jose Sharks are my favorite team because I have a weird kink that has to do with being really good, but not good enough. My favorite player of all time is good ole’ Jumbo Joe Thornton, and he is followed by Dany Heatley for the absurdity that he was. Least favorite team would have to be the Golden Knights, but without a doubt the worst thing in the league is Corey “Little Garbage Boy” Perry. 

Steel: Here's the biggest question. How do you feel about eggnog?

Scratch: I waited this long to answer these questions because I find it funny that this was a topical, seasonal question when you first sent this, but now it is just oddly specific and weird. Hate it.


I hope y'all enjoyed this interview with Scratch. Be sure to check out his awesome series and leave him some love here.


AHS Admin. Creator of the THLPUCHWHA: Redux and Retroliga.

2/13/2021 12:07 pm  #2

Re: The Steel Corner - A Creator Spotlight with Scratch

Can't believe I missed this for a week! Great interview with the funniest man on the boards. Both the TYHL and the WCEHL are great series and I'm excited to see where they go!


2/15/2021 3:33 pm  #3

Re: The Steel Corner - A Creator Spotlight with Scratch

I love this spotlight interview! It's fun to see a bit of the person behind the username


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