5 Artists Re-Imagining the NBA with Dope Graphics
There’s much more to basketball than the sport; meet the artists behind the game’s cultural imagery
Watch a Giannis Antetokounmpo fast break on the open hardwood, and you’ll quickly realize that basketball is many things. It’s a spiritual rebirth. It’s poetry. It’s a cultural exchange. It’s a language. It’s a battle of wills. It’s a form of universal joy and excitement expressed through physical elevation, explosive movement, intelligent decision making, and of course, insane skill. It’s art.
Not surprisingly — because of the sport’s diverse and electric appeal — the NBA has garnered one of the strongest followings of quirky art and cultural-niche lovers: supporters who appreciate the players’ larger-than-life personalities and in-game artistry; fans who are often artists themselves.
In their honor, I give you The Art of Hoops: a compilation of creative dopeness, from retro cartoons to geometric portraits, featuring illustrators who give life to the basketball mythos with their unique depictions of the game we all love. Check them out, and steal a print to induct into your own home’s 2021 Hall of Game…
Perhaps my favorite among current basketball artists, Sarah Brown’s contemporary combination of simplistic design elements, layered with a tight sense of cultural aesthetic, creates an irresistible blend of must-have prints and designs for your crib or office. Known as DRAKECEREAL, you can pretty much get her fire designs about anything loosely related to basketball lifestyle: a throw blanket for the beach, retro video game prints, a low rider with dangling Nike Cortez kicks — and of course, there’s always some hoop or Spaulding action tucked into the frame. For real, check out this amazing artist and what she’s doing to flip the script and make basketball art more than a picture of a player. Wander around her shop for more.
A DMV-based illustrator, Double Scribble uses his wordplay on double dribble to, well, double scribble his way into NBA and WNBA fandom by sketching simple and quirky versions of our favorite (and not so favorite) players. And when I say player(s), I mean PLAYERS. This dude literally has just about anyone you can imagine on his page, from both the past and present: the historical power houses (LeBron, Shaq, Yao, Kareem, to name some); the legendary shorter guys (i.e. Steph, Russ, Gary Payton, more); and then, there’s the rest (Kris Dunn in Atlanta? Got it. Kent Bazemore as a Warrior? Done. Bryn Forbes? Wait, who? Yeah, got him, too). So, check DS out; he occasionally takes requests on IG or Twitter.
A Phoenix-proud illustrator (and HUGE Suns fan), Walchalk blew up during the NBA Bubble when his portrait of LeBron James was unexpectedly purchased and shouted out by none other than King James himself. If that doesn’t tell you how damn elite this guy’s skills are, than you must not know either basketball or art. Visit his store to see more of his offerings, including pop culture icons, rappers, and NFL athletes.
Chapulana does his thing from Spain. That’s correct. Dude has stepped foot on U.S. soil, but grew up an international hoops head. And, unlike most of us, he has a crazy talent with illustration, and is a wild NBA/WNBA fanatic. Seriously, this guy knows everything about basketball history, which he often shares on Twitter. He takes his deep knowledge and passion for the game and flips them into crazy prints, t-shirts, and illustrations for sports blogs and websites, like this Charles Barkley joint over at HeadFake.
Dustin O. Canalin:
A Bay Area talent who took his skills over to work at Nike, Adidas, and AND1, Dustin is as real as NBA design and artwork can get. He was literally involved in designing jerseys for NBA teams — including the Golden State Warriors’ iconic “The Town” threads — but also runs his own brands, and is involved as a Creative Director in a few places: Undrcrwn, Trophy Hunting, and DOC Studios. Guarantee you will not be disappointed by this dude’s profilic and imaginative output. Peep game.