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Under Cover Artist: Art of Football

9 May 19 interview: Toby Johnston

If you’re a Forest fan, there’s every chance you will have seen the brilliant football-themed artwork created by Art of Football on the front of matchday programmes, in venues at the City Ground or at their base in Sneinton Market. Celebrating iconic players and moments from history, they’ve developed a unique, vibrant style that perfectly encapsulates the passion and dedication of being a football fan. We caught up with Luke Cuthbert to find out what they’re all about…

Tell us a bit about yourself…
Art of Football was started by me and my brother Gabe, who is a brilliant artist. We’re just massive football fans and the youngest of five brothers, so it’s always been a huge influence in our lives. It was around the time that Sergio Aguero scored that iconic goal against QPR to give Man City the Premier League when we realised that there was nothing out there that captured those specific moments in an artistic form. So we played around with that idea, tried out a few designs, and fortunately they worked.

Tell us a bit about the work you did with Nottingham Forest...
That was amazing. We’re huge Forest fans and season ticket holders, so to actually work with the club that we have supported our entire lives was incredible. The club commissioned us to help revamp their Legends Lounge, so we created fifty individual pieces of art celebrating the greatest players in the history of the club. It was just amazing to get to do all of that research looking back through the history of the club you support. It’s a pretty special feeling to go into that bar now and see it decorated with our artwork. We’re so proud with how it all turned out. We’ve also worked on the matchday programmes too, which has really helped us grow. We didn’t have huge sales from Forest before, whereas now it’s our main support, which is great.

What was the inspiration behind this month’s cover?
We just wanted to celebrate the whole journey of that entire 1979 team. Obviously everyone knows the main highlights – Trevor Francis scoring the winning goal in what was his first European Cup game of the season – but we wanted to highlight everyone, to show how they all performed a miracle. The achievement was down to the entire team as well as the fans.

And the LeftLion cover isn’t all you’re doing to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of that European Cup win…
Yeah, we’re putting on a fan park with Nottingham Forest. Basically, it’s going to be in the car park at the City Ground with a big screen showing Jonny Owen’s film I Believe in Miracles, and then highlights from the game itself. Art of Football are decorating it all, so there will be a great atmosphere and lots of photo opportunities. Some of the actual players the Miracle Men are going to be there too for a Q&A. They’re going to do a trophy lift at the end. So, you’ll get to see that live in person with the European Cup, which should be good fun.

Which is your favourite piece of artwork you’ve created?
I quite liked the series of pieces we did ahead of the last World Cup in Russia. We used some paintings that Kandinsky the Russian artist created in 1922 as inspiration. They have these really interesting shapes that just fit perfectly with the movement and feeling of football. We created a full series called Small Worlds, which featured small players who could create their own small worlds within football. I thought it was really interesting because it was completely different from anything else out there at the moment.

What have you got planned for the future?
At the moment we're doing a lot of wall art, prints and t-shirts, so we're looking to move into other areas of clothing. For the anniversary, we're making a special edition coach jacket, which is going to be one-off and released in limited numbers. It’s a bit of a different direction for us, but I think it’s really nice and does justice to the occasion.

And finally, would you ever do any work for Derby County if they came knocking?
I don't think we would, no.

Art of Football’s ‘Forest Legends’ prints featured on page 16 are available to buy from their website

Art of Football website

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