By now you’ve seen the piece. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James letting out a primal growl, placed alongside a lion doing the same. The piece was shared by James on his Instagram account on April 14 and has since received 817,000 likes and 21,200 comments. The Twitter version received 65,000 retweets and 112,000 likes. The posts were to signify his “going dark,” the period where James disappears from social media during the postseason, increasing his focus on the task at hand. The piece of art has since been reshsared countless times, has become the avatar for many Cavs fans, and the comments ranged from Cavaliers DJ Steph Floss to actor and recording artist Jamie Foxx, urging James to “claim what’s his.”
What the majority of folks who liked or engaged with this photo appreciate its message, not many know who was behind the work. WFNY had the fortune of sitting down with Elliot Gerard to discuss his work on the LeBron James portion of the imagery, discussing its origin, how it has since blown up, and the past, present and future of the intersection of sports and art.
Gerard is a New Yorker. He’s a fan of basketball, and hip-hop, and design. He had an inspiration for a piece on LeBron James finally winning a championship for the city of Cleveland while having no idea what the future would hold.
The lion portion of the image comes from another New York-based artist, John Boyce.
“It was a great feeling to see the artwork posted by a legend,” said Boyce. “For any artist to have there artwork put on a worldwide platform such as LeBron’s social media makes us as artists, feel appreciated and inspired to keep going. To see our work shared across websites and on TV was amazing.”
With James dominating in the postseason thus far, we encourage you to listen to the podcast below. Elliot and John’s information can be found below the player.
Elliot Gerard is a Creative director for Sportsrocket a leader in the sports streaming industry. In addition he is a featured illustrator and designer for established brands including Sports Illustrated, ESPN, CBS, The Madison Square Garden Company (Working directly with the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and New York Liberty), Disney, Marvel, Activision, 2K Games, Major League Gaming, The Fresh Air Fund among many other clients. He also works with professional agents, athletes like J.R. Smith and musicians like Jayda Kiss. He has created artwork worn by radio personalities as well as All Star NFL and NBA players.
Elliot’s work has been featured in articles for media outlets like the FoxSports.com, ESPN, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Fansided, NJ.com, NESN.com, Bleacher Report and many others. He lives in New York with his wife and two children.
John Boyce is an emerging artist and illustrator from North Babylon, NY. Graph’s work has been featured with multiple art shows such as Art Expo NYC, MAD Gallery Pop-Up Exhibitions, Greenpoint Gallery in Brooklyn, The Flourish Party with Victory Lap, Queens Hip Hop Festival 2016 and has been featured with Projects Gallery in Miami during Art Basel for 2015 and 2016. He also has been featured in the popular “Views Exhibition” honoring Drake in New York City last October of 2016. Graph hopes to continue to show his work locally and worldwide to inspire people to create art without limits.
John’s work has work with some major brands such as Nike, Bleacher Report, Fansided, BBC III, Atlantic Records, and many others.
WFNY thanks them both for their time.