I designed the US Open Tennis Championship Theme Art for 2009. The artwork will be used on posters, banners, tickets, programs, t-shirts, and every kind of souvenir you can think of. Marc Jacobson of the Silverman Group called this winter to see if I’d submit some designs to the USTA. Every year they pay a few artists to produce a couple of ideas for presentation, the USTA picks one, and that’s the theme-art for the tournament.
Here are the sketches I sent to Marc to start talking about some ideas I had. The brief for the project laid out a few very clear requirements that had to be addressed in the design; if a player was depicted, the figure had to be generic enough to be either male or female; New York City is a key element, and the flaming ball logo for the US Open had to appear in the final art. Other key words from the brief were “Entertainment Spectacle, Toughest Tennis, and High Energy”
Marc liked a number of the sketches and I developed six color images for presentation to the USTA. On a project like this I tend to over-produce these “concept sketches” because I don’t want to lose the project because I delivered half-hearted execution of an idea. This process is always a gamble, and having more cards on the table sometimes produces a winner. During the pencil-stage I thought I could successfully execute a strong treatment of a player that would be generic enough to be either male or female. But as I tightened up the image, the figure kept tipping one way or the other, or it just looked like a dude in a skirt.
This is the design that I most wanted to be chosen. It makes reference to the classic Joseph Binder poster for the 1939 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadow in Queens, the current site of the US Open. Clearly, no one got that reference but me.
Everyone liked the bridge/tennis net idea. The Brooklyn Bridge doesn’t exactly lead to Queens, so we looked at some other bridge options. In the end we kept Brooklyn as the strongest symbol of NYC.
Merchandise and souvenirs are starting to show up now. There’s a crazy amount of applications for the image.
clean, conceptual, and brilliant.
love the colors.
thanks for sharing.
ragAugust 5, 2009
you aced it. nice serve.
Tim OBrienAugust 5, 2009
Game, set, match!
David FlahertyAugust 5, 2009
Good pick! I recall a million years ago working on some US open art.
BrodnerAugust 5, 2009
Truly gorgeous. I had that World's Fair poster in my studio for a long time. And I want this one. Signed if poss. (Please put up a good link to a store!) Congrats Paul.
Alex NabaumAugust 5, 2009
Wow! Beautiful on so many levels.
I love the player in the buildings also. And the poster looks surprisingly well on that shirt.
Kyle T WebsterAugust 5, 2009
Holy crap, this is so cool. I want one!
George BaileyAugust 5, 2009
Is it still 1939?
Stephen KroningerAugust 5, 2009
ShoutAugust 5, 2009
great concept, great execution, amazing poster
JohnAugust 5, 2009
Beautiful stuff, Paul.
Your poster caught my eye this past weekend as I was getting off the train at Shea Stadium.
The USTA has used some really nice artwork over the last few years. I think this is one of the strongest that I can recall.
On a somewhat related tangent I recently submitted a U.S. Open cover idea to the New Yorker that incorporated the remnants of 1964 Worlds Fair. They didn't go for it either.
Adam McCauleyAugust 5, 2009
Beautiful, beautiful work, Paul. I especially like a few of the pieces they didn't choose, but the final poster is phenomenal. Very cool they use illustration too.
Yuko ShimizuAugust 5, 2009
Such a cool gig, and congrats for a beautiful image.
I love the women's (?) T-shirt design :-)
Doug FraserAugust 5, 2009
Wow nice job. Great color, structure, the whole execution. It's a big classy image for a big classy event. It feels like Federer's execution, total pro.
Christoph HitzAugust 5, 2009
Laura LevineAugust 6, 2009
Holy Toledo! Great project!
Jeffrey SmithAugust 6, 2009
I really like this poster design for it's Major and Minor compositional force, and it's composition of circles. Way to go Paul.
Harry CampbellAugust 6, 2009
Wow, what a sweet gig. I think the composition they chose with no figure was the way to go. Well done indeed.
Scott BakalAugust 6, 2009
Cool stuff! I don't follow tennis much but wasn't the US Open in Farmingdale, Long Island? Before I moved there was all activity there for the Open. Correct me if I am wrong. I guess I was thinking if it was, what does NYC have to do with it? Proximity?
Never the less, that doesn't take away your the great execution!
Cathleen ToelkeAugust 6, 2009
Blasting tennis ball! Dynamic and beautiful, Paul.
Marc August 6, 2009
Excellent project and smart, beautiful solution(s). Congrats, Paul.
John DykesAugust 6, 2009
Really nice work, Paul. I can relate to your need to over-produce sketches... Don't you also find that the deeper you get into something like this, the more ideas blossom? So... you don't stop drawing!
Victor JuhaszAugust 6, 2009
Terrific! Thanks for sharing the process as well. Always enjoy seeing the nuts and bolts parts of an assignment. Love the white T-shirt with design filling the space so powerfully. Congrats.
Paul RogersAugust 6, 2009
Thanks for all the nice comments and tennis puns everyone.
Scott: That was the US Open Golf Championships in Long Island, they play tennis at the USTA Tennis Center in Queens every summer.
John: I tend to over-produce this type of presentation to land the job, you never know which one the client may pick. When it works out it's great.
Nancy StahlAugust 7, 2009
You managed to make that flaming tennis ball actually look good. The generic player thing never works. What do they expect if you're drawing an athlete wearing a scant amount of clothing? Now some of those 250lb tourists I saw last week could be made generic..!
Finally a US Open poster I'll want to own..! Congratulations..!
John HendrixAugust 7, 2009
Good choice going with the Brooklyn Bridge... that is classic art director. "But the Brooklyn Bridge doesn't go to Queens!" yeesh.
John HullAugust 11, 2009
Really nice Paul!!...the Binder caught my eye too!
Scott GorslineAugust 13, 2009
Great work in a classic style.
Thanks for sharing the evolution of a quality poster.