By: Chris Kemp, Artist

My Background:

Three years back, my girlfriend and I found ourselves looking for a sport we’d both be interested in. We heard the NFL would be playing in Wembley again and thought it’ll be a good opportunity to give it a watch.

After securing tickets to see Raiders vs Dolphins at Wembley (proudly now a Raider fan) we had done our research on the team and watched past games leading up to the game in London. I was instantly captivated by the whole sport.

Rewind back to my school days, I was that kid that shied away from the limelight, but one thing I could do was draw cartoons of my own and existing characters. It is only now that I appreciate the influence my teachers had on me back then — telling me — I’m going to be famous and asking me to sign the drawings I had done of them. I’m still waiting for my six figure pay check, sports car and mansion…..must have got lost in the mail I suppose?

Jumping In:

Shortly after the Raiders/Dolphins game, I picked up my drawing tools again after more than 10 years of not thinking the time and effort were worthwhile. Nonetheless, I decided to draw again and now with a new interest in the NFL, I decided to combine the two. After getting back into hand drawings, using pencil and paper, I looked towards a more digital approach. My first point of call was a software called GIMP. Some of you may know, it’s very much like Photoshop. GIMP has helped me develop my work without having to rely on buying expensive software and still to this day is my go to program. A question you may ask is — how do you do this using a computer mouse? The answer is — I don’t. Doing my research, I looked into drawing tablets and came across WACOM (if you see this Wacom I’ll be happy to receive some freebies for the plug). I first bought the Wacom Bamboo which was good starting point, but then went onto the larger intus and still use both today. These dramatically improved my art and allowed me to put my art straight into the computer not having to scan. Warning they take some getting used to, so don’t give up!

My Artistic Process:

The process begins by first selecting a player. As you know, there are plenty to go after and the goal is for them to ultimately see it. Picking the picture to work from is key. I aim to get an image which their faces are clearly visible and without helmets, to really capture the likeness of the player. After finding the lines, knowing what to keep and what to get rid of, I then place it in block color and change the saturation and hue to get the right tone. Finally, I work on another layer using black and drop the opacity to make the layer as ‘overlay’ as possible. Each piece takes me around two hours.

My NFL player designs have been seen by a number of players and shared by them personally; players such as Menelik Watson, RGlll, Jamaal Charles, Cameron Jordan and Jimmy Graham to name a few. I have had personal conversations with many more on their design and other design work. I am looking to always improve my work and change things up so please be sure to follow my progress.

~Chris Kemp

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Produced by Jeff Gorra — Artist Waves