A self-described “short Jewish kid from New York,” Elliot Gerard has now earned a reputation in the sports world as one of the hottest creators and designers around. So much so that his artwork was co-opted by none other than LeBron James for his playoff message on social media.
James is promising a social media ban until the Cleveland Cavaliers either win another NBA title or are knocked out of the playoffs. As such, James posted to his different social media accounts including Twitter about this communications blackout, entitling the duration “Zero Dark Thirty.”
With the message was graphic art featuring a fired-up James and a roaring lion, art inspired in the mind of Gerard:
— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 15, 2017
The artwork was originally featured in Fansided’s quarterly HP magazine. The lion was created by artist John Boyce.
The fascinating part of all this is that James saw the artwork and wanted it to be the face of his social media silence. His posting of the image of himself and the lion created a stir on Twitter and Instagram as fans felt an immediate connection with the art.
“I was stunned when I saw it. I was about to go to bed … when I looked at my phone and saw our artwork on Lebron’s Zero Dark Thirty post in my Instagram feed,” Gerard told Metro. “I sat ‘What?’ and I sat there in silence for 10 minutes not sure if I was dreaming. Then my phone started to blow up and I had to wake up my wife to show her! It’s been a roller coaster ever since.”
A creative director at Sportsrocket, Gerard’s work has been featured in places such as ESPN, CBS and Madison Square Garden along with several prominent professional teams in New York City. The creator is based in New York City.
The piece, he says, utilizes the passion of James on the court, as evidenced by his obvious emotion that’s embodied by his yelling. The creature next to him was inspired by the Broadway musical “The Lion King” and the metal masks utilized in the performance.
“I wanted to capture not only LeBron James’ feeling of vindication and triumph, but the entire city of Cleveland. His roar needed to represent the pride of the entire Cavaliers organization and all of their fans,” Gerard said. “This made me think of James’ spirit animal, the lion of course. The creature’s face needed to be created from this kinetic energy of both LeBron and all of ‘The Land’ yelling. Julie Taymor’s “The Lion King” was the first imagery that came to mind.”
Gerard also works closely with NYJetsFans.com and Jets Fans Media through founder Jason Koeppel. Perhaps best known for their infamous “Fire John Idzik” movement that in part led to the termination of the New York Jets former general manager, the fan site is now making deeper inroads with the actual organization.
In particular, the group has created a number of T-shirts on their website commemorating moments and personalities in franchise history. This includes current players whose likeness is now captured on the T-shirts.
The group works closely with the players to create art that embraces their image and connection with the fans.
Two years ago, waves were made when wide receiver Eric Decker boarded a bus to the airport and was photographed wearing a “Fitzmagic” T-shirt made by Jets Fan Media for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. It was a coming of age moment for Koeppel’s movement and just another indicator of how Gerard’s work reaches across the field and connects athletes with fans.
“I loved working with Jason and NYJetsFans, especially for events like Brandon Marshall’s 375 organization’s Paddle Battle. Events like these are great to be able to talk Jets like Lorenzo Mauldin and hear how they really love my work,” Gerard said. “That means the world to me. The best athletes in the world actually having an appreciation for what I do is an amazing feeling.”