Posted in finished projects, I can't believe we pulled this off, nats |

Brek Shea, Alex Morgan, and tiny horses

I’ve never liked My Little Pony. Even when it first came out and I was a six year old girl, I wasn’t interested. I lived on a farm–if I wanted to play with a pony, there was a real one in the front yard! Thirty years later, they’ve retooled the series several times, with a new version aimed at the six year old daughters and sons of parents my age. It’s cute and all, but I’m still not a fan; I get the appeal but it ain’t for me.

Except, of course, stupid banners appropriating pop culture themes are for me, and, well…Alex Morgan’s nickname is “Baby Horse.” Then there’s Brek Shea, with his famous hurrdoo and this weird photoshoot he did with a toy donkey. At least I hope that’s not a real donkey; it’s hard to tell what in this photo is real. And then US Soccer finally got it together that the men’s and women’s teams should wear the same jersey (give or take a couple of stars).

All of this–plus the promise of a WCQ cycle starting with an easy driving distance friendly in Toronto–added up to one thing: The silliest banner idea I’ve done yet. I thought about having a contest to see what would pay more: people who would pay me to do it, or people who would pay me NOT to do it. (I may actually sell this after it’s been to a couple more games.) The more I thought about it, the more I just had to run with this for shits and giggles.

I’m goin’ straight to hell, just like my mama said

Finished size is about 5′ high by 10′ wide, and it was a real bear to do in the available space in my house. Lots of metallic colors used, especially in Morgan’s hair and Shea’s hooves. There’s even a little gold highlighting in the road to the World Cup. Shea is in red, with the Nike snakeball on his flank; Morgan is in white, with the USSF crest (plus two stars for two Women’s World Cup titles, of course) on her flank and a pink headband just like real life. (I saw some people inferring the red pony must be Canada, which, no, of course not! The teamwork here is the men’s and women’s US teams, not two opponents).

At the stadium, the banner got a lot of laughs; postgame, I saw a few complaints about how ponies have no place in football or whatever, based on the occasionally creepy aspects of grown-up pony viewers. That’s your hangup, not mine, as the banner’s not meant to be anything besides a fun pop culture riff. I got a compliment on it from an actual (retired) player who has an actual five year old daughter, and that’s good enough for me. The right people always get it.

Posted in finished projects, goofy, I can't believe we pulled this off, nats |

the angel’s share

When I was in Toronto for MLS Cup 10, I met a man named Sean who was working on a book about American soccer fandom. I talked a bit about banners and what I do, and then didn’t hear from him again until late last year, when he hit me up for a more in-depth interview for his book. He also asked if I’d be interested in creating a piece that would be put on a banner and used as an illustration for the book. The theme: “Belief.”

I went through some old photos, and picked out one from South Africa. Post US-Algeria, I got a shot of this guy sounding the vuvuzela of victory:

If you’re familiar with the Mormon faith, you may know that atop many of their temples is a statue of an angel named Moroni blowing a trumpet. I’m not LDS, but the photo reminded me of that, and the concept of Mormonism as a wholly American homegrown religion made a neat parallel, I thought, to homegrown American soccer fandom.

The finished project looks a little like a clown, with the facepaint and makarapa, but you get the idea. Spilled paint on the arm that had to be gone over with white, which I usually dislike doing. Went with me to US-Canada in Toronto, where, sadly, belief was not enough to get us past a 0-0 draw.

Posted in finished projects, nats |

highlight reel

“MLS wants to do a ‘Supporters’ Week’ where we interview fans around the league about what they do, how they do it, and why. Would you like to participate?”

Would I! Hardest part of this was keeping it under wraps for a month, though I did broadly hint that there was a side project associated with the Lee Nguyen banner that’d come soon. This is it. Big thanks to Jason Saghini, Scott Riddell, and the gang at the mothership for making it happen.

Posted in finished projects, goofy, I can't believe we pulled this off, revs |

more words and other disturbances

Kind of a sign the atmosphere’s turned around quickly in 2012 that I already added three to the words for the year, though one was already a multi-year roster fixture and the other two skipped to the top of the list for being known quantities in American soccer. Still, shouldn’t be too far into the summer before more new dudes earn their words.

Lee Nguyen, “Gift.” Because he was one (unplanned waiver pickup) and has one (dropped into the squad the first week of the season ready to do business). That and it wasn’t friggin’ “win.” Give me some credit, people.

Clyde Simms, “Cool.” DC’s loss is our gain, if not exactly in terms of game results. Word chosen in consultation with DC buddies, who kept talking up how great a guy he is on and off field.

Bobby Shuttleworth, “Reach.” A banner for a backup goalie? Yes–dude’s been around long enough and has started for an injured Reis a few times. Sorry about painting your teeth red, Bobby.

Posted in finished projects, revs, words |

thesaurus update

The “Words” project, started in 2008, is becoming something of a tradition, with new players being told to “earn their banners” as they sign on with the team. I did two in 2011, which should probably tell you a lot about that season, but started 2012 with four new words and one update ready to roll.

Benny Feilhaber, “Dream.” (2011) When he first came to the team, I met him at a bar event, and told him he’d have to earn a banner. “I haven’t already?” he replied. He was right, of course, but I couldn’t just let him stroll right in with a banner, even if I did use a source photo from the 2010 World Cup. (Related: I love how every time I run into this guy, he gives me a hard time).

Diego Fagundez, “Go.” (2011) This was the easiest word/photo/player combo to do since the very first round of banners. Go, Diego, go!

Jay Heaps, “Heart.” I was never really happy with the first banner I did for him (he looks like he has a head wound), so I thought it appropriate to get a new photo for his new job. Same word, of course, ’cause it’s the same Jay.

AJ Soares, “Soar.” (2012) There’s a term in heraldry called “canting,” in which someone’s coat of arms has a visual pun reflecting their name. This is as close as I’m getting to that. Runner-up suggestion was “buzz” for his fondness for coffee.

Stephen McCarthy, “Grind.” (2012) Man, every photo out there of this guy is goofy lookin’. Was very important to get his mullet in the banner. Accidentally overpainted his right ear.

Ryan Guy, “Sense.” (2012) Wanted a word that reflected his experience and remarkable read of the game. Sadly, his freckles don’t really show up in the source photo.

Zak Boggs, “Learn.” (2012) What else for a dude whose hobby is cancer research? Accidentally painted his left pupil red (it should be white); apologies to my fellow WV native.

Posted in finished projects, revs, words |

been through the desert in a rented passat

When the Revs announced they’d be hitting Tucson for the Desert Diamond Cup, a nifty preseason tournament run by FC Tucson, their new PDL team, I decided it was a road trip I had to take. I’d missed last year’s visit to the area, much to the dismay of o.g. Tucsonian Revs fan (and my occasional blogging partner) Ted Prezelski. Besides Ted, I have some longtime family friends out in Tucson, and hadn’t been out to see them since 2005. It’d be just like going to Red Sox spring training, only with zero risk of Dan Shaughnessey incursions. Follow the photos and come along for another trip report!

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Posted in goofy, how did I get here, revs |

you can’t take me anywhere

As some of you may know, before I started painting soccer banners, I made anime costumes, mostly for myself, sometimes for friends. Retired from the cosplay world in ’04, partly because it’s a younger man’s game, partly because soccer was starting to horn in on the budget. I was pretty good at it, too; won some awards, hosted instructional panels at conventions. Much like my soccer hobbies, also got a little Martha Stewart with other related crafts, most notably pumpkins, which I still do yearly.

Anyway, my ability to sew Japanese cartoon character outfits and stand in front of people to talk about sewing Japanese cartoon character outfits once got me invited as a cosplay guest of honor to a convention. There’s almost zero soccer content here, so come back another time if you want a gameday adventure. Otherwise, click on through for awkward times!

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Posted in goofy, how did I get here |

uphold our rapinoe

US Soccer announces a men’s game to be played in Paris on Veterans Day. What to do, besides make a bunch of jokes about how the winner gets fourteen points, Franz Ferdinand will sing the national anthems, and security should watch for pitch invaders named Gavrilo Princip?

uphold our banner

Steal from the Library of Congress’s WWI poster collection, of course. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to convince anyone to bring this to Paris in time for the game; instead, US Soccer arranged for it to be displayed in Phoenix the following week at the women’s game vs Sweden.

This thing is nearly nine feet tall and took about thirty hours from design to signature; kept tweaking her eyes to remind myself why I haven’t done that kind of portraiture since I was a junior in high school. The fact that the original is shaded relatively flatly didn’t help as much as I thought it might. Used several different washes of watered down paint to shade the background and the flag. Love the blue in the flag the most.

Posted in finished projects, I can't believe we pulled this off, nats, ww i posters |

as we close the door

bye, steve

Steve Nicol banner being prepped for shipment, a few minutes before the Revs announced his replacement. Thanks, Coach.

Posted in finished projects, revs, why we do this |