As soccer fans everywhere prepare for the world’s most competitive international soccer tournament — the UEFA European Football Championship 2016, kicking off Friday in France – ESPN is introducing a series of 24 custom artistic posters representing each country competing in the championship.
In keeping the campaign authentic to its French theme, ESPN commissioned native French artist Florian Nicolle to craft the artwork, which captures the spirit of each of the 24 teams. The illustrations, available in English and in Spanish, showcase some of the championship’s biggest star players in action.
Front Row spoke with Nicolle about his creative process and being a part of the campaign:
How did you get involved in this project with ESPN?
In September , ESPN’s marketing team invited me to collaborate on this project. Since the event is taking place in France, ESPN chose a French illustrator to create this series.
What was your inspiration for the posters?
Sports is probably my favorite subject to illustrate – I have worked for [brands such as] Nike, Puma, and Under Armour. The energy, movement, emotions, all while working on the realism, are the main keywords to draw this type of illustration.
How do you feel about ESPN featuring your work and sharing it with fans [Note: The posters are not for sale]?
This collaboration was one of my best experiences and a huge honor for me to have had the opportunity to produce illustrations for such an important project.
Which team was the easiest to create? And which one was the hardest? Why?
The France poster was the most stressful because this illustration was the test for the validation of the series. I enjoyed drawing the Zlatan Ibrahimovic [Swedish player] the most. His pose and facial expressions are very energetic and full of emotion.
What’s the process of creating each poster?
ESPN’s marketing team gave me the references [pictures] for the positions and movement of the players, [including] their faces, the team kits and few guidelines for the colors and elements to include. Based on this brief, I created a mockup for the validation, then I created the illustrations.
I draw all [my illustrations] by hand on paper, using watercolor, pencil and Indian ink, and then I digitalize it in order to finalize it in photoshop. It takes about eight to 10 hours to create each poster.
The collection is part of the “More Than Football” campaign, which launched on May 26 with a commercial in English and Spanish. It was developed by ESPN’s in-house marketing team.