Painters, a Touchdown Celebration
For most, the Super Bowl is a time to gather together with friends and family, drink a few brews while eating chips and dip until bellies protest with strange noises. For others, the Super Bowl is just something to tolerate between cute commercials filled with more brews, peculiar humor … and, of course, puppies.
For artists, the Super Bowl just might be the sweetest gig ever if you love sports and love art. Why? Because the Super Bowl has an official artist. That means the Super Bowl is, in fact, the ultimate solo exhibition. A spectacle televised live and broadcast worldwide featuring one artist’s work for millions to see.
We touched base with the reigning champion holding the current title of official Super Bowl artist, Charles Fazzino, on how he landed the job — and asked the burning question, do you get an official Super Bowl ring?
Current Super Bowl Artist Charles Fazzino
“There have been others, but I’m proud to be able to say I’ve been the officially licensed Super Bowl Artist for the NFL for almost 20 years,” says Fazzino. “I think Peter Max did it for a while in the 1980s or 1990s, and … Leroy Nieman before that.”
Though some may not associate sports with art, the two intermingle very well indeed. Fazzino, for example, is considered one of today’s premier sports artists, painting for horse races, motorsports and many others.
Fazzino’s resume includes works for the National Hockey League, the Olympics, eight Major League Baseball All-Star Games and over 10 Super Bowls.
What Makes Art Perfect for Sports?
“I think every event needs an official artist. Art not only captures moments in time, but the emotion and the excitement of an event like the Super Bowl,” Fazzino explains. “In one image, I can convey what the entire Super Bowl experience is like for a fan. I want people to be able to look at the art many years later and remember how it felt to be there. It’s very special for most people.”
Being able to capture the excitement of the annual championship game through his art has fueled Fazzino’s personal love for the sport. He has met an array of players and owners, and has even been fortunate enough to attend a few Super Bowls. “I have fun watching [the players] on the field,” he adds. “I’m a big NY Giants fan.”
So how does being the official Super Bowl artist work, exactly? Fazzino shares his winning playbook below.
How did you score the gig?
I started out working with the NFL doing art for specific teams — the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins were the first. And then the NFL asked me to render the Super Bowl the first time for Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa, Florida. I’ve been doing it ever since.
How has your relationship with the NFL progressed throughout the years?
Probably like any long-term relationship. When I started, the NFL was a lot more hands-on about my art because they didn’t know what I was going to do.
Now, I have a lot more freedom artistically. The NFL has done a lot more with the work because they really like it, and they like the longevity of the series I’ve created.
What is it like being the official Super Bowl artist? How do you find inspiration?
It’s an honor to have the opportunity to work with the NFL on this level. The inspiration comes from the place– the special aspects of the host city — what people are traveling there to see, not just the game but the whole city. My goal is to capture the excitement and pageantry of the entire event.
Your Super Bowl art is very detailed. Can you share an inside look into the development of these pieces?
Actually, all of my art is detailed. That’s sort of one of my trademarks — color and detail. The Super Bowl art is created just like the rest of my art. It starts as a pencil sketch that keeps changing and evolving into the finished composition.
The final artwork is reproduced using a fine art printing process. Then each piece is cut, glued and assembled by hand. I tend to describe it as a layering process, sort of like layering a lasagna. And then each piece is embellished by hand with acrylic paint glitter and Swarovski crystals.
Each work is a labor of love. Every piece is a bit different because of all the handwork.
What can we expect to see from you moving forward?
My ultimate goal is to have my work shown in museums around the country. My work is shown in galleries in more than 25 countries and I’ve created a few museum exhibitions, but that’s the area in which I’d really like to expand and grow in the coming years.
On the immediate horizon is the 2018 Olympic Games in Korea and the 2018 MLB All-Star Game in Washington D.C.
If you could offer advice to other artists looking to do similar work, what would it be?
The most important thing an artist can do is find something unique about his or her work. Create something new, and then just keep working at it over and over and over. It requires a lot of practice and persistence to become a professional artist.
Do you get a Super Bowl ring?
Since we were just dying to know (because talk about the ultimate bling), we asked Julie Maner, director of business affairs for Museum Editions, Ltd., to fill us in on the dets: “So the answer to the question is that sometimes he gets some swag, and a few times tickets to the Super Bowl … but alas, no ring.”
Fingers crossed this year will be the year, Fazzino!