Richard Swarbrick. You might not recognise the name immediately, but you'll sure as hell be familiar with his work. Remember that Gareth Bale animation? Maybe seeing Richard's latest genius will help...
Richard, along with Chris Platt are the chaps behind an excting new football art project, Fantasista. We caught up with them earlier this week:
Richard, you've obviously become very in demand over the last year, was there a tipping point with the first animation?
Yes, it was a huge tipping point for me. Going viral on YouTube was a very strange and amazing experience and one that has changed my life. I was immediately signed by a commercials production company, Hotspur and Argyle, and I'm getting more and more commissions for oil paintings from interesting and occasionally high profile clients. Above all it's given me the opportunity to make a career out of doing the thing that I love and it's been a platform for me to meet other amazing football artists via Twitter which was the catalyst for myself and Chris to set up the Fantasista project.
We've seen your work on television commercials in the UK, has there been interest from other countries?
I've received requests from countries all over the world including Spain, America and Australia but either the timing hasn't been quite right or they have conflicted with other projects. I've recently been working on a non-football related animation for Google and I'm currently making an animated music video for China Rats.
It's just the worst question, but how did the animation begin, was this something you'd done before?
At Art College (many years ago) I was known as the guy who did football animations. They were fairly crude charcoal drawings which I used to make into flip books. I was literally in the process of reworking some of these animations in order to put them on YouTube whilst I was watching Gareth Bale terrorise Maicon in the Champions League game between Spurs and Inter Milan. Suddenly David Ginola's goal against Barnsley in the League cup didn't seem relevant anymore so put it in the metaphorical dustbin I started work on Bale.
With hindsight, Gareth Bale's performance against Inter probably lent itself to art. Do you find yourself watching individual moments in football matches and thinking "yes, going to do something with that..."?
Bale's performance against Inter Milan had all of the required elements such as drama, elegance, emotion, and of course a great story. Actually, I can't watch anything now without wondering how it would look as an animation! Obviously you're looking for great footballing moments that inspire passion and excitement but there are a few other factors to take into consideration. The animation is based on TV footage so I'm always on the lookout for a fantastic camera angle or an iconic celebration. I thought about animating Aguero's title winning goal in the dying seconds of last season but when I went through the footage there didn't seem to be any inspiring angles of the goal. Wayne Rooney's over-head-kick against Manchester City, on the other hand, was captured by a camera on the ground behind the goal that caught the moment from a view point that was almost cinematic.
You're always thinking about how everything could come together as an edit; how the commentary might synchronise with the music or how the action could build to tell the story in the most satisfying way. A great piece of commentary can really add an extra dimension but it's often be just as powerful to use no sound at all, evoking that cocooned feeling you get when you're at the game surrounded by the deafening noise of fifty thousand fans.
At IBWM we try to champion artists and photographers that see the art in and around football, there's beauty everywhere isn't there?
I think that in England football can too often be presented drab and functional. IBWM's approach is much more in line with the rest of the world where football is genuinely celebrated for its grace and artistry. Football is not a subject traditionally associated with art, but why not? Surely the beautiful game has it all - vivid colours, fast movement, passion, controversy, instant highs and lows.
Fantasista's bloggers Amy Eustace and Lauren Carroll have answered this question much better than I ever could - Amy suggests that there is an architecture and a design to the formations and styles adapted by football teams which has a natural and attractive symmetry, where Lauren compares the action played out on the football field to great actors and performers of the stage.
Chris, tell us about Fantasista.
I started working with Richard just a couple of months ago and Fantasista was initially conceived as a vehicle through which we could promote Richard and Richard’s work - it quickly evolved into something significantly more than that.
At a Central London venue, in Spring of 2013, Fantasista will bring together many of the finest football artists from around the world for the launch of our first showcase exhibition Fantasista - The Art of the Number 10.
The Fantasista 2013 exhibition will be a celebration of contemporary football art inspired by the rapid rise of the ‘football artist’ in the digital age.
For one night only?
Our focus is on the launch event, but we will ensure we do a longer run open to the public in London and from there take the exhibition to Manchester and even abroad.
We have already had a very interesting enquiry from a well-known venue in Sáo Paulo about taking the exhibition to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup!
Who is going to be involved?
We have an incredibly talented group of artists contributing, many of whom are well known to readers of IBWM.
As well as Richard himself, we are pleased to say the likes of Steve Welsh, Stanley Chow, Dan Leydon and Zoran Lucic will all be exhibiting.
In addition to the artists involved, we are talking with many influential potential sponsors and business partners from the world of football and from the Corporate sector. I can’t say too much, but it is all very exciting.
Is it invite only or can artists submit work to you?
The artists involved were all invited by us to exhibit at Fantasista 2013.
Having said that, we want to encourage anyone that is interested in taking part or being involved to submit some of their work and a short bio, we can be found through our website or via Twitter.
Even if they can’t be part of the exhibition itself, we will share the best of the work.
What happens next?
For the next 6 months we'll be working with our business partners, to make sure the Fantasista exhibition is a truly exciting event and provides the platform our artists deserve.
In many ways, everything is still at an early stage, so I’d welcome any enquiries from interested parties.
I will also be continuing to promote Richard and manage his ever growing requests for commissions allowing him to concentrate on his animations and artwork.
How do we find out more?
Details for the dates and venues will be coming very soon.
We will of course share all developments with IBWM readers......