(Writer’s note: 5 years ago this week “Crank” was created. This article is about 2.5 years overdue – that’s right! I’ve been meaning to do this for such a long time. This article is for Chris’ mother who recently passed away. As a business owner, you just want everything to go right, that’s why you work hard. As a family man, you realize that the most important things in the world are family and friends, and maintaining those relationships, going forward.)
“It was a great thing for me. You very rarely do anything in life that gets exploited, recognized, observed and used to such a large extent.” –Milton Glaser
In the summer of 2005, I co-founded the second post-collegiate club lacrosse team in NYC – The Brooklyn Men’s Lacrosse Club. Co-foudning that team is one of my proudest achievements! In 2006, one of my newest additions to the team was a defenseman named Chris Feehely from Baltimore, MD. As a goalie, we definitely spent a lot of time on the same side of the field. Off the field, we definitely had our fair share of fun times!
(Above: With the co-founders of the Brooklyn Men’s Lacrosse Club–that’s me in goal!)
In the summer of 2009, I just opened my Twitter account after a couple years on Facebook, not having an idea what to expect. But, I also had no idea that one of the pieces of artwork I was creating around that time was going to be my flagship piece of my business, The Art of Lax™. I’m very comfortable of saying that, that piece has been one of the most recognized pieces of lacrosse art in the lacrosse world–unfortunately, it also has been one of the most hacked pieces by individuals and organizations, too! And that piece is…
Like any piece of art I’ve done, I’m focused on details, shading, proportion, scale, composition, and so on. I’m not thinking like any piece done on my behalf would be the next best seller and an early exit for retirement. Sometimes, when drawing, I feel like it’s another day on the “assembly line”, to be honest. Those were the exact thoughts in my head when I was drawing “Crank” – just another drawing to do. I just remembered that this drawing would fill a gap for a “shooting” pose in my portfolio. Unlike today, where I usually show progression pics of drawings on social-media, I just uploaded the image after it was done, back then. The “re-tweets” came pouring in and viral it went. “Crank” was getting it’s fair share of inquiries – but it wasn’t on my website for sale. The next day, all of that quickly changed.
Enter Chris Feehely.
Chris is an architect by trade, so we knew how to respect and discuss our creativities, visions and goals. He respected my title as an advertising art director in NYC, but recognized my extreme passion for doing lacrosse art. Chris became one of my earliest supporters and fans of my lacrosse work and gave me sound advice on how to market it around. He took the initiative and exhibited some of the lacrosse artwork at private functions within his lacrosse network in the Baltimore-area. His feedback was very important but when he told me that reproductions of “Crank” were selling out and being highly praised by customers he interfaced, he asked me if he could “purchase the original?” Long story short, we made the transaction the next time we would meet – at the 2010 US Lacrosse Convention in Baltimore. Chris knew something that I didn’t and quickly took advantage of it.
(Above: Chris passing the check to me. The original “Crank” in the plastic sleeve)
Aside form prints, we made them into the first run of t-shirts, which exploded to the public. Chris took his shirt “across the pond” as per the pic, below.
I even hustled them in the parking lot of the 2010 NCAA Final Four from the trunk of my car!
We even made them into different colors!
Customers didn’t want just one or just a handful…
It even made it to shelves and racks in the U.S. and abroad.
The constant demand also made us aggressively think more on other licensed products. Chris and myself, still to this day, talk on the phone and brainstorm ideas.
Fathead® Wall Graphics has joined our mission, too!
There are plans for more products to come.
Under new ownership.
To this day, the original of “Crank” is framed and hung up on Chris Feehely’s wall in Maryland. Along with “Crank”, are two other originals that Chris purchased, as well; “Gear” and “The Perfect Form-Founder”. I joke around and describe Chris Feehely to others as my “patron of the arts”.
(Above: Chris at home with the original of “Crank” framed in hand. “Gear” in the background)
And here’s another framed, original in Chris’ private collection, sort-of-speak. 🙂
Looking back and going forward.
I mentioned before that this image has been hacked away by “copy-cats” both big and small, near and far, etc., etc. I get annoyed. I’m not happy with that but theft is highly rampant in the commercial arts industry, or any industry where the competition is fierce.
(Above: one of MANY inspired copies/attempts?… there would be too many to post on here)
But in the words of another native-NYC’er, Milton Glaser “you very rarely do anything in life that gets exploited, recognized, observed, used to such a large extent…” So far, I’m happy for that.
But, I’m more happy to always know where the real “Crank” is these days.
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