“Footballers like Messi, Xavi and Gerrard are true artists, but like all creative people, their skill is born from knowledge and constant practice. Design Practice and football are similar. But without the WAGS and designer clothes.” Mike O'Shaughnessy Senior Lecturer, Liverpool School of Art & Design.

Ballon D’raw is a collaborative project between SPIEL and Liverpool School of Art & Design which took the winners of the Ballon d’Or as a start point of an examination of the links between football and design.

Both footballers and designers have the ability to capture the imagination of popular culture and Mark Frances’ poster series looks at a Ballon d’Or winning five-a-side dream team of Lev Yashin, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff, Michel Platini and Eusebio through contemporary design styles. In his Johan Cruyff piece, Mark drew inspiration from the work of graphic designer and typographer Wim Crouwel. Both men played an important role in Dutch culture of the 60s and 70s and shared a common belief that beauty must be central to their work. As Crouwel put it “the grid is like the lines on a football field. You can play a great game in the grid or a lousy game. But the goal is to play a really fine game.”


“Obviously Lev Yashin could not be left out either as he’s the only goalkeeper to have won the award,” explained Mark, whose Yashin artwork drew on the Dynamo Moscow keeper’s prominent place in Soviet culture; merging elements of agitprop with footballing imagery.

Jean Widmer’s work inspired the Platini print and both men shared an ability to combine simplicity and elegance to stunning effect. Whilst Platini’s rise to prominence in the national team  was at the heart of the ‘Carré Magique’, Widmer’s grid based work gained international recognition with his logo and branding work for the Pompidou Centre.

By bringing together creativity on the field and in the studio, the Ballon D’raw series shows there is more to the relationship between design and football than a hastily redesigned club crest.

The project also has a role in student’s professional development and is part of a wider drive by the art school to promote interaction with the creative sector.

Senior tutor Mike O'Shaughnessy talks about the project’s aim of helping the students “to be able to maintain a balance between having something of their own to say and also being able to talk to an existing audience; the relationship between education and commercial practice”.  

Work from the project will be released over the summer on and is available in a series of limited edition risograph prints.

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