Oct 11 2023 - Seattle, WA, United States

Kelp, coral, and the Seattle Kraken: Local art debuts at Climate Pledge Arena this NHL season

Local art shines at Climate Pledge Arena this NHL season.
Climate Action Climate Pledge Arena Corporate Responsibility


Kaan Yalkin cover photo alt.

Kaan Yalkin

Partnerships & Engagement Lead, The Climate Pledge

Artist Sarah Robbins designs at the intersection of city and nature for the Seattle Kraken's 2023-24 season at Climate Pledge Arena.
To inspire global change, Climate Pledge Arena has always looked local, sourcing its food from Pacific Northwest producers and harvesting rainwater for the surface ice the Seattle Kraken play on.

Each hockey season, The Climate Pledge also selects one local artist to design a merchandise collection benefiting One Roof Foundation's Environmental Justice Pillar, which aims to ensure all youth have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and clean and safe places to gather and play.

"The only requirement is that they are local to the Pacific Northwest, are motivated to express their artwork through the lens of the climate crisis, and have artwork that can translate well into unique products," says Quinn Ianniciello, creative director for The Climate Pledge. "This year, I love how our artist wove in elements of kelp and coral—a nod to the Kraken and the Puget Sound."

Artist Sarah Robbins creates evocative, naturalist worlds, and this year the Seattle muralist and illustrator is bringing her PNW-inspired art to the arena. We sat down with her to learn more about her background, vision, and new merchandise line for the Kraken.
Artist Sarah Robbins talks about designing

The Climate Pledge: Tell us about your background and work as an artist.

Robbins: Ever since childhood I’ve been into making things—creating something from nothing has a certain type of magic I’ve always been drawn to. My adolescent bedroom wall was a rotating canvas for murals, which allowed me to experiment and explore the idea of the permanence of art before I went to the Corcoran School of the Arts & Design in Washington, D.C. I studied fine art and went hard, learning all I could about printmaking, sculpture, and painting. I landed on being primarily a painter, but the other backgrounds are still evident in my work today.

When I made the move from D.C. to Seattle, I followed a gut instinct. I had never even visited the city, but for some reason I knew it would be a place that felt like me. This city and its surroundings are a constant source of inspiration, and the value Seattle puts on art is unmatched. It’s a big city with a small-town feel, and I’ve never felt more accepted or empowered as an artist.

The Climate Pledge: What inspired your designs for the 2023-24 season? How would you describe this collection to someone seeing it for the first time?

Robbins: The Pacific Northwest has my heart and informs my work. I never get sick of the nature that surrounds us, with all its shapes, textures, layers, and intricacies. And then there’s Seattle—a man-made blip on the map, full of technology, innovation, and forward-thinking—in the middle of that environment. It’s a good metaphor for what I like to create: organic imagery with hints of man-made elements. Pieces where botanicals are met with a human touch, such as a plastic water bottle that’s being reused as a vase for wildflowers, or the iconic recycling symbol recreated with tattoo-covered arms. Even using the negative space of underwater kelp and coral to create letterforms (and the Kraken’s team code) illustrates the juxtaposition of those two worlds.

Artist Sarah Robbins talks about designing

The Climate Pledge: Was the experience of creating art for an arena shop unique for you?

Robbins: This was a dream job. It’s rare to be given complete trust and flexibility to create an entire body of work for a company. I’m known for primarily being a muralist, but I love illustration. I think concepts can be conveyed more cleanly through illustration, where they aren’t always being viewed in the context of any given space. Having said that, these were created for—and will live under—the Climate Pledge Arena umbrella, and I couldn’t pick a more fitting partner for this work.

The Climate Pledge: Do you have a favorite design from the collection?

Robbins: If I had to choose, I think the Kraken “S” series is my favorite. It was a fun puzzle to create, making specific plants recognizable that also fit within the tight lockup of the Kraken logo. The herons are a close runner-up—they’ve always been my favorite bird!

Artist Sarah Robbins talks about designing

The Climate Pledge: We heard you’re also creating art for Green Hockey Night in April as part of Hockey Is For Everyone! What can you tell us about those designs?

Robbins: They probably feel more like my style of mural work and a little more fluid. I worked from a complete gut feeling on that one. Once I heard the brief, I immediately saw the finished design in my head. As someone who played sports all through high school, but chose to pursue a different professional field, the Hockey Is For Everyone program is an amazing merging of worlds for me and it’s important to help break down the walls between them.

The Climate Pledge: Climate Pledge Arena is on track to become the first zero-carbon-certified arena in the world! Is it meaningful to you to collaborate with a venue innovating for climate action?

Robbins: Absolutely. Our planet is burning and sometimes it makes me feel insignificant and powerless. Partnering with organizations that are using their resources to fight the good fight is a great way to feel like I’m helping the cause.

Artist Sarah Robbins talks about designing alt

The Climate Pledge: Anything else you’d like to share?

Robbins: I just completed my largest project to date up in Bellingham: a whopping 6,000 sf covered in native plants that are used in traditional and homeopathic medicine. It was concepted as a way to bridge the popular walking path (natural area) and the adjacent medical community, and make something everyone can enjoy.

And overall, I’m sensing a slow shift in the art culture here in Seattle and beyond. The “art world” stereotypically means stuffy white galleries and high price tags. But in recent years I’ve seen more people getting scrappy with shows, installations, and partnerships. Maybe it’s a post-pandemic shift in attitude or values, but either way I’m here for the change-up. 

Sarah Robbins’s collection for Climate Pledge Arena will be available on site near the living wall installation, and on the Seattle Hockey Team Store website (beginning October 17) for the duration of the Kraken’s 2023-24 season. Learn more about Sarah’s work at sarah-robbins.com, follow her works-in-progress on Instagram, and see her murals in person in Seattle at Butter Home, the U-District Farmers Market, 6th and Pine, and 24th and Market.   

Photography by Kara Wallace DeGooyer. Floral styling by Teressa Johnson.