For The Win presents a new series of people whose work focuses on the most creative elements of sports. We talked to many of the greatest artists, writers and publishers who are helping to make sports a better place.
NEW YORK – Eric Friedensohn did not even have time to get bored. He was to take the Wrigley Field mound in July.
But it was not going to be easy. He had not thrown baseball in a long time, and the mound feels like it is twice as far from the home plate when you suddenly stand in front of a large audience. It did not matter that he was ready. It was finally his time.
“I still do not think I have tackled it completely,” Friedensohn told For The Win. “I was happy. I was surprised. I had a 15 minute warning, so I was a little scared.
The terrain was not amazing. He landed outside the strike zone, and Clark, the official Cubs mascot waiting with a glove behind his plate, was unable to catch him. For a ceremonial first pitch, however, it was not as embarrassing as someone like 50 Cent or Dr. Fauci.
All in all, this was not a bad look for Friedensohn, especially since he lives as an abstract artist.
Friedensohn, also known as Efdot, is a Brooklyn-based visual artist and creative director who works with large wall installations, art, screen printing and product collaboration. He has a few employees on his team in the Buschwick studio, which he says runs as a “mini-creative agency” which he runs in line with his art practice.
He describes himself as very socially oriented, and he has painted all types of murals, reaching out to local small businesses as well as nearby small businesses and as large as areas of collaboration around the world.
An example of his societal thinking includes his efforts to raise over $ 60,000 for the charity Bring Change 2 Mind (BC2M) with the Cubs. Efdot actually placed the first course at Wrigley because the Cubs asked him to collaborate on a limited edition collection for Mental Health Awareness Month. The project included a silkscreen print and several garments. He also appeared on Chicago actor Ian Happ’s podcast on mental health.
“Mixing my art with sports on this project was very interesting to me because it was soft and tender,” Efdot explained.
When he first met For The Win, he was days away from a project for New Heights NYC nonprofit, a youth development program aimed at empowering and educating disadvantaged children. Part of the curriculum includes after-school basketball programs, and some of the notable alumni include NBA players, such as Precious Achiuwa, Moses Brown and Lance Thomas.
For this project, Efdot installed a mural for the relocated New Heights NYC home that would soon open at the Bedford Union Armory in the Crown Heights area of Brooklyn. The center will contain several brand new basketball courts, and with its energetic style that sometimes resembles a city network, the mural has shared the history of the organization.
The main theme of this mural is the ascent, with stairs as a common motif. It included fun nods to New York like a subway map, a big apple, and other depictions of the community and the New Heights organization itself.
“This is our new home, so we really wanted to work with an artist who could come in and tell the story of where we started and where we are,” said Ashley Faison, director of development for New Heights. For victory. “He did a great job of marrying the concepts of books and basketball together, and it stands out right away.”
This piece is one of many he has produced with sports as a subject, an increasingly popular trend among some artists. Efdot is one of the many contemporary artists who have become known for creating sports art.
Like many, sports were a big part of Friedensohn’s life when he was growing up. He played baseball, tennis and football. But the Brooklyn-based artist described her involvement in athletics as a love-hate relationship. At one point, he said, he felt he was playing more for his parents than for himself.
He began to realize that when he found more joy in art – he was inspired by his grandmother, who made stained glass as a material – and skateboarding. Eventually, he completely stopped playing.
“But I’ve always loved the sport,” said Efdot, who said he appreciated the rich history of ephemera design, typography and colors such as uniforms, badges, pins, hats and dashboards. “I loved the nostalgia of seeing the Brooklyn Dodgers in the script. It always gives me a very warm feeling when I do [see] these logos.
Even though he no longer played, he still had fond childhood memories, such as collecting baseball cards with his brother. The two sold items from the school collection during the free minutes.
It all went around the circle for Efdot when he was chosen last year as one of 20 artists to join forces with the baseball card trading company Topps for his project in 2020. He felt very lucky, ok. Sure, but he knew it wasn’t. is going to be an easy task. He usually did not draw faces and did not pay as much attention to baseball as when he was younger.
“I was pretty nervous about it,” he admitted. “But it brought me back. It forced me to go back to childhood memories. It was so healthy for me to do in the early parts of the pandemic. It was a bit of a nostalgic escape.
In the beginning, because he did not want to redraw the players and portray them incorrectly, he mostly drew around their silhouettes to create an abstract environment or background while leaving their photographs untouched.
Since then, Efdot has presented his own spinoff series which he sold through Topps where he paid tribute to 10 iconic stadiums in the league. These subjects did not need to use the human form, which gave him more creative freedom than he had with the previous effort.
After completing this, he is now one of over 50 artists currently participating in Topps Project 70. Unlike Project 2020, where he received cards to remix, he now has more creative flexibility to design any shortly within 70 years after archiving. material in the Topps collections.
This time, with the increased experience under his belt, he leaned more towards illustrations. He also changed the background of his photos from black to white.
Meanwhile, with the booming NFT markets and the somewhat surprising popularity of remixed trading cards like hers, it’s clearer than ever that people love to own things. These days, he thinks more about his contributions to Topps when it comes to dealing with a series in the mind of a collector.
In his creative process, this means doing as much research as possible on his topic so that he can add layers to the space. It does not have as much space to add as many details as in a mural, but it was able to pay homage to the infamous Billy Ripken card with a swear word by sneaking into a reference on his card for Oriole Park in Camden Yards.
Of course, Efdot acknowledged that only a small subset of people love both sports and art, let alone his specific art style.
But when these people found him, he was able to cultivate a collector base and reward them in unique ways. One idea he carried out was to sell accompanying cards – with his own intellectual property with his original abstract figurative Blob character – which he himself printed in Queens.
Blob’s character appears on his mural in Crown Heights again, this time wearing a basketball uniform with # 8 on the front. As in much of his work, both playful and accessible, the figure evokes flow and movement in an otherwise static image.
“I could be myself, fully, but also express it through sports,” Efdot explained. “I like to find ways to build my own creative muscles in what I do outside of sport, while still integrating it into sport.”
It aims to take the essence of the subject and boil it down to an icon, almost like a logo in sports. Over time, he hopes that people will begin to associate his designs with certain emotions in their own lives.
As he continues to perfect his style, Efdot seeks through his practice to create images that are simple enough to be easily digestible and recognizable while remaining unique and full of personality.
For example, when he collaborated with Topps, his intentions were to move away from the ultra-slim digital photography of modern baseball cards and more towards the illustrated look that was found on the back of baseball cards over the years. 1950.
A recent example of this was his card for Satchel Paige. Artistically, this is one of her most successful pieces to date, as it captures the recognizable movement found in both Paige’s pitching wind-up (where her arm whips at release) and marries the visual language in the iconic, wavy style of Efdot.
“It’s almost a snap in any design,” says Efdot. “For me, it’s been fun to find that balance.”
Of course, the work with Topps also attracted a new group of sports fans to his art. For some, his style did not resonate, and he said he had to build thicker skin in the face of criticism.
However, he said that the overwhelming majority are for and understand what they are doing and understand the vision. People are wondering about art and want to know what happens next. In fact, he has even seen people who bought his baseball cards buy one of his original pieces, as a drawing of the city or one of his characters in nature.
“The audience’s passion is greater than anything I’ve ever experienced before,” Efdot said. “One of my favorite things is to see these baseball card collectors become art collectors.”