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As the Major League Baseball postseason approaches, Chris Speakman is beginning the process of which teams he’s going to feature in his ‘propaganda-style’ artwork. His prints have been seen during the 2011 MLB All Star game, and various publications, but it’s a selection process that never ends. The rallying cries have begun and the fans are becoming more vocal on which sides they belong. These are the moments he looks forward to most. In sports, the post season is where the battle lines are drawn.
The decision for Speakman to work in print making wasn’t always so clear. It was while studying illustration at the University of Hartford in Connecticut that his passion for the arts continued to grow. Having accomplished artists in the classroom helped to influence his opinion of art and his
appreciation of different genres ranging from the Italian Renaissance through the post-modernist era. “In the last 6-7 years I have grown to love poster art and the graphic nature of it. Artists like Shepard Fairey, Dave Kinsey and Joshua Budich continue to inspire me.”
His passion for sports, though, is something he recalls long before attending any university. He remembers drawing photos of Larry Bird and showing them to his father- then wanting to immediately work on another picture. Drawing for hours, he wanted to make the illustrations look as real as possible. “I think early on my influences were my love of the players and teams themselves and the stories that went with them.” Speakman continues, “I was the only kid on the block who knew odd baseball references from decades past, or could name some obscure turn of the century player stat. I think I expressed my love for it all with pencils and paper.”
The combination of artistic desire and his passion for sports is what helps to inspire the artwork to begin with. “I had been interested in war time propaganda art, the blatant (and necessary) partisan nature of it seemed almost absurd and very interesting to me. It sort of reminded me of sports rivalries and how fans get so caught up in them. I thought I could combine the two concepts and actively “recruit” people to a particular cause in a fun and good-natured way.”
In late 2007, Speakman was commissioned to do work for a company who is a sponsor for Major League Baseball. While working on that project the MLB took notice and asked him if he would like to license the product. “I do feel like I got lucky. [That job] led to a product license with the MLBPA. I have the opportunity to create baseball artwork and share it with fans all over the country.”
Being a fan of the game helps Speakman decide which subjects he wants to represent next. “I like to portray the players who I’m a fan of. It helps if there is a player or team who is having a particularly good season and fans are excited by.” Two players that have definitely been on his radar for the 2012 season are Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. A team anniversary (see: Mets and Astros), or a World Series championship also serve as subject matter.
Speakman’s website, Sports Propaganda, features his handmade artwork and prints/posters available for sale. The posters are offset printed on 100lb. poster paper and both posters/prints are signed, numbered, and dated. They are all officially licensed by MLB and the MLBPA with the MLB hologram featured on lower left-hand corner. Some of the limited edition prints are even signed by the player or players. Some upcoming signed-prints include: Roy Halladay, Brian Wilson, Joe Mauer, Ryan Howard and Yogi Berra who is featured on a 1953 World Series print.
Speakman wants to keep making inspired art and hopes that fans continue to respond to it. Upcoming designs include the Oakland Coliseum, Yankee Stadium and the MetLife stadium in San Francisco. It may also include whichever team does well enough in the post season to create another sports rivalry.
Chris Speakman can be found on Twitter: @Sports_Prop For an extra 10% off enter discount code 2727-