Anyone who has played or watched the game will have a favourite footballer or club. We all have favourite bands and songs and understand the enduring cool of old vinyl. Trading in nostalgia with beautifully washed out colours and great font choices, graphic designer James Taylor reimagines current and past legends of the game as musicians. Recently, James took time out to speak to us about his LPFC Project and what his process was in creating these great pieces.
When and why did you start the LPFC project(s)?
It was exactly a year ago. The idea came to me on a Friday as I walked home — I remember telling my wife about the project over dinner. Later that evening I started with Cruyff and Beckenbauer I think, and the series just grew from there. I probably only spent about a week-and-a-half on it. I certainly never intended nor expected it to become as popular as it did.
Why the vintage aesthetic?
I was imagining the players’ musical success to coincide with their success on the pitch. In most cases this meant ring-worn and weathered LP sleeves that had been well-loved but had also seen better days.
What are the basic steps of your creating process? Do you start by sketching, doing collages or just do it all on the computer?
It really depends on the project, but in the case of the LPFC series the majority of the process was research — photographic and graphic. Firstly I had to track down interesting vintage photographs of footballers that could be reinterpreted as album covers. Some of these I already had in mind, others I stumbled across during my search. Since I was presenting the players in an unexpected light I deliberately avoided iconic, well-known images to ensure an element of surprise. It was vital that the finished artwork didn’t appear clichéd or predictable. I then had to use graphic elements — mainly type or the treatment of the photo — to evoke the period and mood of each record. In each case I tried to imagine what type of album each player might have recorded, what were the popular musical and graphic styles in that country at that time, and to blend all that together into a believable fictional product. There’s no magic formula for this, I was really just drawing upon stuff that was in my head already.
What is your criteria for choosing the players?
Initially I was thinking of famous players for whom such homage would make sense. The World Cup was around the corner and so I was perhaps subconsciously combing through previous tournaments’ more celebrated players. I ended up with twenty-four but my initial list was double. Maybe I should do a follow-up series. Last summer I was asked by Mundial magazine to come up with some modern versions in time for the 2014 World Cup. When choosing which players to include I was struck by how few of today’s stars have the requisite personality to be immortalized in such a way. When InStyle magazine asked me to apply the same principal to fashion designers for its “Fashion Rocks” supplement I faced a similar challenge: some of the fashion world’s characters are larger-than-life, but others are pretty low-key, even non-descript.
If you had the chance to be any player in any situation in any match ever, who would you be?
Well, I can certainly think of a few goals I’d have liked to score, though the likelihood of me taking the same chances with quite such devastating aplomb is slim to say the least. Maybe I’d be safer on the bench: I could come on for the final few minutes of the World Cup final when the game is already won…
Do you have a shop where people can pick these up or get online?
Many of my designs are available on t-shirts and sweatshirts through the British retailer Toffs. As one of the original purveyors of football-related nostalgia we were a perfect fit for each other! I also sell prints of my work via Society6 (society6.com/jamescampbelltaylor).
Tell us about yourself!
I was born in the UK and grew up in Loughborough, Leicestershire, so my “local” team is Leicester City. Both my parents are visual artists and as a boy I liked to draw a lot. I’d always planned to study graphic design but ended up getting my degree in Art History and Italian. After graduating I spent four years living in Florence, where I spent every other Sunday at the Stadio Artemio Franchi cheering on my beloved Fiorentina. In 2007 I moved to New York for an internship at the Museum of Modern Art. I now work as Art Director at reitdesign, an agency in downtown Manhattan.
James is a designer at the forefront of the surge of superb design surrounding the beautiful game over the past few years. One needs only look at the PRESS page of his website to see how his work has resonated in cultures all over the world.
Please take the time to visit James online and check out his amazing work: