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When The King Held Court

Tim McCarthy

This past year, my wife and I drove cross country from Brooklyn to move out to San Francisco and along our journey, we stopped in Memphis, TN. Now I'm not one for tourist spots but while we were in town, we had to check out the world famous Graceland, Elvis Presley's home.

The whole experience was beyond touristy. We were herded around like cattle with "interactive" iPads and giant disposable headphones that made us look like we walked out of the 90's. Obviously, the voice guided tour was given to us by the one and only, John Stamos.

Have Mercy.

That being said, I learned a lot about The King that I never knew before the trip. For one, he was really into karate. The second, was that he got into racquetball and liked it so much that he built his own court on the Graceland property. Part of the tour brings you through the court which is now turned into a museum that is filled with gold records and outfits he used to wear. 

I recently saw that ESPN released a 30 for 30 short called When The King Held Court about Elvis and his love for racquetball. The piece was produced by the folks at Victory Journal and the illustrations were done by Benjamin Marra

Charged Up

Tim McCarthy

Ryan Simpson has been on fire lately with his illustrations. In February, his can won the MVP in the Design Brawl and then this past week he released an incredible set of Steph Curry illustrations for Champ Sports

From composition to color choices, Ryan's style continues to impress me. But my favorite thing about his work is his use of textures and his subtle shadows. Pretty sure he has perfect the distressed look that designers and illustrators have been trying to achieve for the past 15 years. Kudos to you, Ryan!

Mixed Media Arts

Tim McCarthy

I recently discovered the work Gian Galang, a designer and illustrator based out of New York City, and was completely blown away with his illustrative style. He is a big fan of MMA and majority of his artwork is influenced by the sport. His pieces are a mix of acrylic and digital so in my eyes, he's a "Mixed Media Artist". 

I'm a big fan of his use of black and white with minimal additions of color. Combined with rough textures and paint splatters, the work really conveys the the blood and sweat that comes with the sport. 

The Black Mamba

Tim McCarthy

Kobe's farewell tour is upon us and in light of it, Sole Collector has released an article titled The Road to Greatness: Moments that Defined Kobe's Career which features some incredible illustrations by Stephen Halker

Stephen also did an amazing job illustrating Kobe's sneakers along the way. (I still love those Adidas ones!)

And who could forget the night he dropped 81.

The type on these vintage basketball cards are great too. 

Love him or hate him. You have to respect him. Kobe has matured a lot in his career but his heart has always been about winning and knew that only hard work got you there. Despite me wanting the Celtics to win this Finals, I will always think of the image below when I think about Kobe. 

Design Brawl

Tim McCarthy

There's nothing I love more than design and sports. It's why I started this blog. So you can imagine the excitement I had when I heard the news that some of my favorite designers and illustrators from Colorado and North Carolina were organizing a Super Bowl Design Brawl.

The rules of the Design Brawl were simple: two teams of 6 designers would create a line up of craft beer cans representing their teams. Users could then vote for their designs as a team and vote for an individual MVP. Vote here!

My overall team vote went to Carolina but my MVP vote was given to Scot Allen Hill.

Brady vs Manning

Tim McCarthy

Earlier in the NFL season, when the Patriots played Denver, ESPN released a piece about the rivalry between Brady and Manning

With the AFC Championship on the line this weekend, it's more relevant than ever. Does a between Brady and Manning always get overhyped? Yes. However, this one might be the most important game in their rivalry because if the Broncos don't win, it may be Peyton's last game. I try to keep this blog unbiased but I can't hide that I'm a huge fan of Peyton and would love to see him get back to one more Super Bowl so that he can redeem himself from that ugly loss against the Seattle Seahawks. Do I feel confident about his noodle arm? Absolutely not.

I wasn't crazy about some of the pieces on the post but I was a big fan of the animated illustrations that were done by Titus Smith (illustrations) and Jason Yang (animations). 

Nike Jordan Training

Tim McCarthy

In 2015, Nike launched Jordan Training as part of the larger Jordan Brand. Jordan Training is a collection of products designed to help athletes beat the elements, making training possible anytime, anywhere.

Manual, a San Francisco based agency, was tasked with designing a custom typeface for the sub-brand, that felt elegant and refined, yet still embodied the core values of the Jordan Brand.

The end result is gorgeous. It's a great counter to the Jordan silhoutte and works really well over large scale over imagery (as intended). The slightly condensed form gives a sporty vibe but the thin light weight adds a modern aesthetic. The numerics also remind me of something you would see on a soccer jersey. In my opinion, that's a good thing. I wish other sports, like basketball, would take a cue instead of always relying on heavy collegiate faces. 

We wanted the typeface to look delicate and polished, but with a sense of movement and fluidity. We found ways within the letter forms to create a sense of twisting, movement and energy in the typography.
— Manual

Joey Ellis

Tim McCarthy

Joey Ellis is an illustrator & designer form Charlotte, NC who specializes in character design for brands, games and stories of all kinds. I've been following him for a little while and discovered a small series of illustrations he did of some of his favorite players on the Carolina Panthers. 

It's always nice to see the final product but one of my favorite things in design to see is the process of illustrators. Fortunately, Joey sometimes shares the different steps on his Dribbble page. 

It's cool to see how the illustrations starts with a rough sketch and then turns into something more cartoonish with some color and shading.

I know it's a different demographic that the NFL is used to focusing on, but I could see these illustrations turning into some form of Saturday morning cartoon that kids would love. 

Penalties of the NFL

Tim McCarthy

Natalie Shields is graphic designer, photographer and illustrator from Seattle. She was able to roll all those talents into this hilarious project titled "The Official Guide to Penalties of the NFL"

The defiling and rebuilding of the perplexing system of football penalties. The book is comprised of several elements: the official NFL referee penalty hand-motions, a punishment, the description of the hand-motion, and a caption given by various participants with no previous knowledge of football.

The book is available for purchase here

MJ Leg Series

Tim McCarthy

Michael Jordan was always a recognizable athlete and still is today. However, most people think of his shaved head, the iconic #23 jersey, a ferocious tongue or probably most famously, his Nike Jordan silhouette. The last thing anyone would ever mention are his legs. Right?

Wrong. Let me introduce you to the "MJ Leg Series" by Jennifer Hynds which is a collection of illustrations of MJ's legs for every year he played on the Chicago Bulls. It's smart, beautiful and by far on my favorite projects I have come across since starting this blog.

The great thing about these illustrations are that none of Jordan's famous features are shown and yet viewers are still able to identify the subject matter immediately. Yes, the shoes are definitely recognizable but I think that just enhances the composition. Everything else is striped from the moment: the ball, the hoop, the crowd and even most of the color. But because of the shoes we are able to place those legs to a year or season and maybe even the game in which that dunk happened. Viewers can use the shoes help fill in the blanks or allow themselves to see shapes and negative space that convey pure athletic motion. 

There's tons of Michael Jordan fan art out of there so when selecting what to post on this blog, I try to find work that is sometimes a little different. I applaud Jennifer in her decision to focus on beauty that is often missed. 

The Geometry of Sport

Tim McCarthy

Matt Stevens, the talented designer behind the Max 100 project and the retro rebranding of the Carolina Panthers, is at it again with a new project called The Geometry of Sport

On his blog, Matt talked about the common struggle as most designers of being in a rut of doing the same style all the time. He wanted to shake things up and ended up looking to some of the heroes of his youth as subject matter. The result was being able to focus on athletes that suggested geometry and energy.