It’s one of those projects that everyone with a passing interest in sports dreams about. ESPN calls you up (or, in this case, sends you an email) and says that they want to use and publicize work that you create for them. Even better, the project was big, featured kit illustrations, and was entirely about soccer. Of course the answer was “yes.”
ESPN’s project was a pair of long posts that ranked the values of technical and shirt sponsors for all 20 Premier League teams and the top ten clubs in Europe outside of England. In total, 30 teams or 60 individual illustrations, home and away. All of that in one month.
60 original illustrations of that scale & detail level, to be completed in one month is a very big ask, especially when illustration work is not your full time job. In order to introduce efficiencies into the project, all 60 illustrations created using four distinct silhouettes, each with its own shading. It was on top of those silhouettes that every single team’s home and away kits was illustrated, including sponsors, stripes, sashes, hoops, and even a sublimated version of the moon’s surface on one team’s sleeves. Of course, not every team’s shirt is the same and variations had to be made to the silhouettes on a case-by-case basis. For example: polo and rugby-style collars replacing crew and v-necks from one team’s home to away uniforms.
Each illustration featured a lot of detail, some more than others. Every color used features three levels of shading for added depth. Some teams, all of which were sponsored by adidas, featured a solid band of color with a polka dot-esque pattern cut out of it. These bands appeared on collars, sleeves, and hems, and added a lot of illustration work to all of those kits.
When all was said and done with all of the illustrations delivered to the client, ESPN’s team took them and transformed them into something great. The full pieces can be explored with the links below: