From Football Dreams to Acrylic Fusion: Craig Black’s Artistic Journey to World Stage

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As Craig Black abandoned his aspiration to be a professional footballer, he was consumed by uncertainty about his future. But fate intervened, illuminating an altogether different path leading to artistry.

Craig’s boyhood in Greenock was imbued with two passions – football and drawing. His childhood memories are of playing football in the park opposite his home by day, and filling his evenings with drawings of football insignia, boots and players’ names.

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Over the years, his artistic inclination has led him to establish his own art studio jointly with Ally, his wife. He now creates mesmerizing ‘acrylic fusion’ footballs, landing him prestigious opportunities at global events like the Qatar World Cup and the 2023 Champions League Final in Istanbul.

Once upon a time, Craig harboured dreams of being a pro footballer. As a teenager, these dreams were seemingly coming to fruition when the youth team of Greenock Morton offered him a contract. Encouraged by his mother and high school art teacher, Craig maintained a balance between his educational pursuits and passion for football.

Gradually, however, the scales tilted exclusively towards football. Craig devoted the next four years to his nascent football career, a period that he retrospectively regards as challenging and frustrating. The enjoyment he once found in football seemed to have evaporated, prompting him to relinquish his ambition.

Seeking solace in the engagement of a different craft that would reignite his joy, Craig chanced upon his former art teacher, Paul Murray. Conversations flowed around Craig’s decision to quit football and what lay ahead for him. To this, Paul suggested an exploration into art and design.

Spurred by this advice, Craig enrolled at Glasgow’s Cardonald College, rekindling his passion for drawing and design. Although he continued playing football for Largs Thistle during his two-year course, he realized his future lay elsewhere. Becoming an artist was his new goal.

Following graduation in 2013, Craig relocated to London where he worked for design agencies, specialising in typography. His career high came when he created a new typeface for Rangers FC in 2020. Simultaneously, he was setting up his personal studio in Greenock, planning his debut as a visual artist.

Experimenting with acrylic paint led Craig to an epiphany. He tried merging his two loves, football and art, conceiving the idea of pouring layers of coloured paint over a football. Fine-tuning this technique, he successfully managed to present it to the world through his ‘Acrylic Fusion’ project.

His innovative work captured attention, earning him commissions from esteemed organizations like England’s Premier League, Uefa, and Fifa, culminating in an invitation to the Qatar World Cup in 2022. The thrilling adventure included creating footballs for each of the 32 participating teams and performing live in front of eminent players and staff.

Today, Craig’s creativity and skill have not only put him on stages such as the Champions League Final but also led to commission works for the NBA and the NFL. Proudly, Craig and his wife Ally helm this art venture together, cherishing the flexible and exhilarating lifestyle it provides for them and their three-year-old daughter, Olivia.

Ahead lies an eight-week solo exhibition in Sydney’s Vandal Gallery, beginning 15th January, where the family will showcase progressive art. Based in Inverclyde, Scotland, they take immense pride in their roots. Proving that one need not relocate to big cities like New York or London to achieve success, they aspire to inspire others to chase their dreams, irrespective of their modest beginnings. As Craig rightly puts it, “I’m a working-class boy from Greenock.”