The sentiment behind the Tacoma-proud 253 Heart is simple. Conversely, the story behind it involves a graffiti trick, dumpster diving, and a guitar that’s still rocking today.
As we near the 10-year anniversary of the iconic logo’s creation, we took a look back at how the 253 Heart came to be and all the places it’s gone since.
253 Heart creator Daniel Blue
The first time Daniel Blue drew the 253 Heart, he was eating Christmas dinner that had been scavenged from Stadium Thriftway’s dumpster — by choice.
Assuring us, “that sounds worse than it was,” the Motopony singer tells Grit City Magazine, “I decided I didn’t want to travel to see my family so I went on a bike ride around town.”
After running into friends who were biking with a baby trailer in tow, the crew scavenged all the non-rancid produce that gets discarded daily.
“We went back to a friend’s house and made a huge stew,” Daniel recalled. “Best Christmas I had had since my mother passed. Artists.”
It was that night while Daniel was trying to do a graffiti trick “where you keep the pen on the paper (or wall or what have you)”, without lifting it up that he stumbled upon a heart shape. “I was working out how to do 253 in this style and the first or second one looked like a heart when I turned the page sideways.”
“At that time in my life, I was trying to sell t-shirts for a living so when I saw it, like the moment I realized ‘Hey, that looks like a heart.’ Of course, I was instantly in business brain and started dreaming of applications.”
Daniel reports the shirts did “ok,” but stickers “were where it was at.”
253 Heart display
You’ve likely seen 253 Hearts about town arranged vertically, horizontally and at a variety of angles in-between.
Ask Daniel if there’s a right or wrong way to display his creation and he’s quick to say, “There is no wrong way to show pride in the place you love.”
Press him a bit on the subject though, and he’ll reveal he likes, “to put it up on its point like a Valentine’s heart. A heart on its side feels kinda broken or dead symbolically to me, but it does make the 253 more obvious.”
253 Heart impact
Daniel says he has “no idea” how many stickers have been sold over the last decade, but it’s, “probably like billions and billions.”
The income generated sustained Daniel for a few years but hasn’t ever made anyone rich.
“It kept me eating and paying rent until I gave it all up for music. I sold the rights to the design to a friend that I trusted would treat it well and I bought my first electric guitar with that money. I still play that guitar every show…so…no loss.”
“I’d like to say I’m proud of myself, but like most things that I’ve created that gain popularity, I was just playing around, dorking off and being myself and loving my city when it happened accidentally,” he added.
253 Hearts near, far and tattooed
“I see them everywhere, even far from Tacoma and that’s pretty cool to remember the moment it fell out of my being,” Daniel went on to tell GCM. “Sometimes it’s just on the highway, I drive a lot with the band. When I see it I sometimes just shrug it off because it’s so surreal, but sometimes I think, ‘Hey you did that kid, that was a good day.'”
But while Daniel gets displaying your 253 pride in a variety of angels and ways, seeing his design inked on another person’s body can be a bit overwhelming.
Summing up his reactions on 253 tattoos into a brief sentence he shared, “I’m like dang…that’s….permanent.”