We come across a lot of visually stunning basketball wallpapers, amusing memes and thought-provoking infographics on a daily basis but I can’t tell you the last time I came across a true piece of basketball “art” that made me want to find the artist and discuss the piece as well as his inspiration and goals for it. Enter the “James Harden Illustrated” project by designer/illustrator Filip Peraic.
Filip isn’t your typical photoshop wiz that works for shares and likes, he’s a graduate of Zagreb’s School of Design who has been developing outstanding professional work for years for companies like ESPN, IBM and Mercedes Benz. That work for those hired gun jobs were unique and well executed but it’s his personal James Harden project that truly shows his creativity and talent and what an artist can do with 100% freedom – it also helps when you have a cool subject like Harden’s beard as inspiration.
So I had a quick chat with Filip about the project and a few other things he’s done.
Why James Harden? And did you have other players you considered using?
When I started James Harden Illustrated project, I just wanted to experiment creating with different approaches using same motif, and because I’m a big basketball fan I gave it some thought and came up with Harden’s profile. James Harden has this unique profile, almost icon-like form which looked so inspiring to me, food for a designer’s thought. Besides, I love creating profiles, since I was a kid I loved that logo of Kobe’s profile with fro on the heels of those crazy futuristic adidas sneaks.
I just continued to experiment using simple constraint of Harden’s profile form and white background, which resulted in some really fun and applauded results. Expect more of those.
You mentioned “constraints” and you have an impressive list of clients (IBM to ESPN to Wired). Do you have any horror stories or examples of corporate constraints you want to share?
No horror stories. I enjoy working with big names, but sometimes art director chooses style/aesthetics and you feel like doing something else. That’s why I created James Harden Illustrated — a place where I can play and just enjoy, without being held back by certain style. Only requirement is creativity.
You did a cool piece for a Bill Simmon’s article on Dwight Howard for Grantland. Do you think you can make Bill Simmon’s look cool?
Haha, Bill is a cool dude, he even signed Grantland Quarterly for me, I’m proud of that. I was just happy I can do illustration for such an important story for the author I admire about the sport I’m crazy about, kind of a dream job. Grantland guys are always a pleasure to work with, they trust illustrators.
Any advice to designers and illustrators trying to get gigs with clients like yours or their work shown?
From what I’ve learned in my short career, you can’t wait for commissions, go and create personal work. Set high standards and just repeat, someone will eventualy see it. That worked for me and landed first big name client. But still, even with all commercial work, I gained the most recognition with my personal project.
What’s your next big project?
There is a hint I could do something nice with ESPN but can’t talk about it yet, let’s just say it involves draft lottery.