Earlier in the year, I was contacted by the team at Surrey County Cricket Club to discuss an art project that would tie in with the announcement of their Greatest XI Players.
Of course, I was honoured to hear from them and readily accepted their invitation to attend a meeting at the iconic Kennington Oval Cricket Ground.
Now known as the KIA Oval, the ground has been the home of Surrey Cricket since it was opened in 1845. It was the first ground in England to host international Test cricket in September 1880. The ground traditionally hosts the final Test match of the English season and was the original home of football's FA Cup Final.
I was over the moon to be taken through to the Oval's historical Committee Room and I had to try really hard not to show how excited I was to be there. The oak-panelled Committee Room opens out onto a balcony overlooking the playing field and the guys explained how the outlook would soon change with a brand new stand ready for the new season.
After sitting down to business with Steve and Emily from Surrey's ticketing and marketing team, they explained that Surrey fans and members had recently been asked to vote for their Greatest XI players. Votes were coming in thick and fast and the top eleven players would be unveiled at the start of November. To mark the announcement, they wanted to produce a set of commemorative art prints and they liked the style of my artwork.
The first element of the project was for copies of the prints to be presented to the players, or their families, as part of a celebration event with additional copies to hang pride of place in their new Hall of Fame. In addition, the team wanted to offer Surrey fans the opportunity of owning a copy of the artworks and would look reproduce each poster design across a range of merchandise items such as Limited Prints, Postcards, Greetings Cards and Mugs.
Following the meeting, I spent some time researching reference images for the most prominent candidates. With such a long history, it was likely that the chosen players would span quite a period of time and I was conscious the availability and quality of images for players of years gone by might prove tricky? As the artworks were to be available for resale, it was important that each image was unique to the project rather than a direct copy of an existing photograph.
When I received the final list of players it contained a mix of players covering different eras. The oldest was Jack Hobbs who played between 1908-1930 and the team spanned every decade through to the most recent servants Alec Stewart and Adam Hollioake.
I'd supplied Surrey with some design examples while waiting for the list to come through and I had a good idea of how the final artwork needed to look. My aim was to create each player in a matching acrylic paint style and set them against a generic background featuring the Oval's iconic water towers. To bring the artwork design up to the 21st century, I would utilise a selection of contemporary typefaces for the headline and information.
The announcement of Surrey's 'Greatest XI' Players took place on 7th November 2019 with copies of each artwork unveiled across Surrey's various online platforms and, after the obvious debate and discussion between fans on the final selection, feedback for the artwork has been exceptionally positive.
Plans are afoot for a celebratory 'Greatest XI' Presentation event and the retail team are busy finalising merchandise items to be available in the club store and via the online shop.
If you would like to discuss opportunities for exclusive sports art by SPARKIUS, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or call Steve Parker directly on +44 (0) 7710 418036
See more sports art examples by visiting the website at SPARKIUS.ONLINE