Behind the Design: "The Immortals"

Nicknamed "The Immortals," it was only fitting for the U.S. Army's 351st MP Co. to use the visually striking mask from the characters of the same name in the movie 300 for their unit design. Along with references to the unit's joint U.S./Saudi Arabia mission, plus some subtle personal touches for the unit itself, this came together to create one of our most striking designs of 2019.

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reloaded gear co unit t-shirt 351st mp co us army tan


About 80% of the time, my company is contacted to create unit t-shirts based on a design the unit has in mind, such a rough sketch or a description with reference photos collected from around the web - and I simply help bring those visions to life.

But the other 20%, the unit doesn't quite know what they want - they know they want some thing visually stunning and of exceptional quality, which is why they come to Reloaded - but as far as design, they don't have a direction in mind, and we are asked to take the lead. As an artist at heart, these are often the jobs I have the most fun with!


reloaded gear co unit t-shirt immortals hand drawn sketch


This was the case with the U.S. Army's 351st MP Co., deployed on a joint U.S./Saudi Arabia mission in 2019. During our initial consultation call, we discussed a few ideas, but none seemed to take hold - until, while asking questions about the unit and their mission, I learned the their company nickname is "The Immortals." 

My mind immediately conjured up images of the threatening rival army of the Spartans in the 2005 movie 300, and the visually striking metal mask they wore in the film. After exchanging some images and ideas about how we would incorporate the mask, the decision was made to use a detailed, hand-drawn Immortals mask as its main theme.


immortals mask reference photo us army 351st mp co


Another theme of this design was the partnership the unit has with Saudi forces as part of their mission. This unit works closely with the Saudis, and felt their unit design would be incomplete without reflecting that partnership. So, I incorporated both nations flags into the design, along with some additional visual references: the green palm tree at the top is iconically Saudi, along with the sword crossed with the rifle behind the mask, which was taken directly from the Saudi national flag. 

The rifle crossed with that sword is an M4A1, recognizable as the standard rifle used by the U.S. Army. But it also contains a personal touch for the soldiers of 351st MP Co. - that rifle was actually a vector trace of a photo of the unit's actual, issued rifle. This is one of my signature design techniques - when I place a rifle in a design, I will, whenever possible, trace a photo of an actual, issued rifle, rather than using stock photos from the web, which makes the design even more personal to those who will end up wearing it.

For the green in the final artwork, I used the exact, vivid shade of green in the Saudi Arabian flag, another nod to the unit's close Saudi ties, and then placed "Saudi Arabia" at the bottom of the design using a font that looks like Arabic, but is in fact in English. Finally a split U.S./Saudi flag adorns the left shoulder, and the 351st MP Co.'s guidon flag sits boldly and simply on the front left chest. 


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One of the additional services we provide as part of our Unit T-shirt Division is a printed neck label, designed exclusively for the unit - yet another personalized touch, but one that only the unit members will ever see.

Unfortunately, the unit suffered a tragedy on this mission, having lost a unit member while deployed. So instead of the unit's name and motto, we decided to place a dedication to their fallen brother in this hidden location. I was very honored to hear later that an extra shirt with this inscription was actually used to create a shadowbox for the fallen soldier's family.

All of this came together to create not only one of my favorite visual designs of this year, but one that truly contained a lot of meaning that was personal to the soldiers of 351st MP Co. Getting the opportunity to work with units like this one to create apparel that is not only visually stunning but also has a deep personal meaning to them is an opportunity I'm honored to have, and at the end of the day, is the real reason I do what I do here! 

Special thanks to the men and women of the 351st MP Company for giving Reloaded Gear Co. the honor of designing these for you!

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