If you’ve been around disc golf and disc stamps for any period of time, you’ve learned that birds are a popular image for stamps. Canadian artist Michael Ramanauskas knew this going into the first XXL Thunderbird design, so he made a conscious effort to make his bird depiction stand out.
Key in that was making the storm/lightning aspect associated with the bird a central figure in its design.
More on the Thunderbird Disc
Likened to a worn-in Firebird with less fade, the Thunderbird is the stable fairway to long range driver that every disc golfer needs.
A Bird Set Apart
Ramanauskas, who lives outside of Vancouver, created the bird so that it appeared to generate the lightning – a power the giant mythical bird was believed to have possessed. He was careful, though, to make sure the lightning didn’t resemble the Firebird design.
Ramanauskas also tried to set it apart from its Innova cousin, the Roc, by avoiding the Roc’s ruffled neck feathers and opting for a more life-like raptor neck. And he straightened out the beak to also differentiate his bird from the Roc and other birds. What’s more, he paid particular attention to the bird’s wings
“I wanted to have banded stripes on the feathers, to show a call back to military stripes – to play off the battle-worn and weathered aspect. Like an avian General in the middle of battle,” said Ramanauskas.
Many disc collectors have already seen Ramanauskas’s earlier Thunderbird work when he collaborated with Jeremy Koling for his Tour Series Swirly Star Thunderbird. Ramanauskas took care of the bird, while Koling, who also has experience in graphic design, handled the font.
Ramanauskas is also a big fan of throwing the Thunderbird disc. When he got his hands on the Jeremy Koling Swirly Star Thunderbird it was a game changer for him on the course. Where he plays in the Lower Mainland region of British Columbia there isn’t much of a need of for a meat hook like an Xcaliber. The Thunderbird is stable, says Ramanauskas, but he can still enjoy its long predictable flight.
Unlike most Canadians, Ramanauskas and other Lower Mainland residents are able to play year round. The area benefits from a temperate climate. Though it may be quite rainy in the winter, the die-hards find a way to slog through it. With 15 disc golf courses within driving distance around the Lower Mainland region, it’s one the disc golf hot beds in Canada, he said.
Here he is playing back in July.
The First XXL Thunderbird
Ramanauskas felt the XXL Thunderbird design was a great opportunity. “I had a short bucket list of all of the stamps I wanted to do and the XXL series was one of them … To get this chance was awesome,” said Ramanauskas, whose entire family including his three kids play disc golf.
Besides Ramanauskas’s Thunderbirds, he’s also done a number of other designs including the 2017 Innova Happy Holidays design for the Star Proto Firestorm and the stock stamp for the DX Mirage. Here’s recent one he did for Innova team member Ellen Widboom
Ramanauskas has been playing disc golf since 2003 and he’s been doing artwork for as long as he could hold a pencil. He employs a lot of his artistic talent at work too. He’s the visual lead for marketing and advertising for a Canadian auto service and tire retail chain.
When it comes to his design style he said he prefers not to pigeon hole himself to one particular style. However, he does try to live by clean lines so that he best showcases a player, product, or whatever he’s designing for.
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