Our latest Industry Insider sees us sit down with one of our favourite designers in the sports industry, Mark Johnson!
Tell us about yourself, what is your current role and what roles have you done previously?
Hi my name is Mark Johnson and I am a Freelance Sports Creative based in England. I have a real passion for sport and especially football. I have played at academy level in my younger days so I have a good insight into the game. After nearly 2 years working in Manchester for Umbro, I decided to take the leap into the freelance world. I have worked with likes of LAFC, National Football Museum, Olympique de Marseille, BT Sport, and Pelé Soccer to name a few.
In my spare time I love to create 3D projects. It all started in the first lock down when everyone was baking banana bread and watching Tiger King, I was making a Campos 1994 shirt out of coloured card. Since this project I have been getting more ambitious and the projects keep getting bigger in size. You may have seen my latest piece in the new Classic Football Shirts shop in London? The Adidas Tango ball made out of coffee beans for their cafe.
What do you do in your current role?
I create insightful projects/content with bold eye-catching colours for brands, clubs and companies across the world. This can be through illustration or vector graphics for their social channels, print or apparel.
“Normal” isn’t a thing in sport so what does an “average” week look like for you?
It all depends of the type of the project(s) I am working on to be honest. I divide my day up to accommodate them and always hit those important deadlines.
How did you end up where you are right now? When did you know you wanted to work in sport?
I have always had a huge passion for sport so growing up if I wasn’t playing it, I would be drawing something sport related. I first started out working for a local newspaper but on the side, I built up my social channels by posting my sport related graphics. As this started to grow, I sold prints and t-shirts which were featured on a range of blogs online. The opportunity of working for Umbro came along and this was my time to work in the sport/lifestyle industry. After nearly 2 years there, I decided to take the leap into the freelance world.
What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?
Creating work in my unique style so it is instantly recognisable when featured across the globe.
Can you tell us about a time you failed and what you learned from it?
One of my recent pitches was for Team GB in collaboration with Dreams Beds for the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, Dreams didn’t take up the idea but it was great to have the opportunity to pitch and the experience was a good learning curve to then go on and work with LAFC.
What are you excited about in your industry at the moment?
Fans being allowed back in stadiums is what the whole football world has missed as the games were just not the same without them. It’s also good to see a wide range of companies, clubs and brands you can collaborate with using illustration artwork to promote their products.
Sport is a hectic industry, what do you do to switch off?
This is one thing I really struggle with! I find it hard to switch off as my brain is constantly thinking of new ideas. I recently had a son so he’s been a great way to help me take my mind off work and I am always watching some sort of football, whether it be Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1 or MLS. If I have worked for a club, I always like to follow their progress during and after working for them.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to work in the sports industry?
Create your own style so you are different to everyone else and then share your work on your social channels because never know who is looking.
Any social links you want to plug?
Thanks for reading our Industry Insider with Mark Johnson! If you want to read more from the series, you can do so by clicking here.