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Blake Jamieson on Using His Marketing Expertise to Jumpstart His Art Career
BY ERIC P. RHODES - Eric is an award-winning Crypto Art artist, renowned Trash Art artist, and creator of the iconic NFT collection, Unofficial Punks. Working exclusively in the Web3 space since 2019. 💬 Follow Eric on Twitter
Blake Jamison is a pop artist hailing from NY. He’s well-known for his pop art portraits of famous sports figures. He’s made paintings for celebrities like Joe Montana, Howie Mandel, Drew Brees, and over 400 NFL, MLS, and NBA athletes.
How he got here? Well, let’s just say his success story isn’t all that traditional. Despite being passionate about art since an early age, he actually studied Economics. After college, Blake worked as a digital marketer for nearly a decade.
But on his 30th birthday, he decided to quit his job, pack his bags, and go to Spain. After spending some time in Barcelona, he rediscovered his passion for art and became a painter.
What would an 8 to 9-year-old Blake think of you today?
I think a young Blake would be proud. This is what he’d want. When I was young, I really wanted to be an artist. Also, I loved playing sports. I wanted to be either professional soccer or a baseball player. So my career wouldn’t surprise me at all.
But what would surprise an 8 to 9-year-old Blake is my choice of school. At 18, I still wanted to be an artist. But the world and the people around me managed to convince me that I’d be nothing more than a starving artist if I go to art college. I went in a completely different direction.
My entire journey has been a roundabout path to where I’m at now.
What did you study in college and what you did afterward?
So, instead of going to an art college, I wound up studying economics. After graduating, in 2009, I got into digital marketing. I mainly helped companies get into social media marketing. It’s funny how back then, people said that Facebook is nothing more than a fad.
It reminds me of the way people now talk about NFT. But I digress.
Back then, businesses just started to accept that they should have a social media presence. That gave me a lot of creative freedom. Initially, I only wanted to do this for a couple of months. Months turned into years. Before I knew it I spent a full decade working in marketing.
I was 30 years old. Enough was enough. I gave them my notice, packed my bags, and decided to travel to Spain. Barcelona, to be precise.
And what did you do in Barcelona?
A lot. I did a lot. Exploring. Perfecting my Spanish. Meeting new people. What really drove me there was the street art. When it comes to graffiti and street art in general, Barcelona has a very rich history. The thing is, all of the real estate in Barcelona is owned by the city. The only thing you own is your door.
While the city would repaint the walls every time someone did graffiti on them, people would let the street artist tag their doors. Some would even commission artists to come and spray paint their doors. The city is full of wooden and metal doors with amazing art on them. Seeing this in person inspired me and affected my style a lot.
When did you decide to go back to the States?
After a while, I felt like it was time to go back to America and start being serious about art. I went back to my parents. They had a two-acre property in NC. My parents had all kinds of artistic tendencies. Not necessarily careers, but hobbies.
I set up a studio in their barn and worked on my craft for the next two and a half years. My then-girlfriend and I decided that we should move to NYC. I was painting, she was doing acting and voice-over stuff, so it was like, why the hell not?
That’s how I ended up in Brooklyn.
Just how did Blake Jamieson get into sports art?
Ok, when I first started taking painting seriously I wasn’t comfortable taking money for my art. However, I was still marketing my work online. I was always posting my art on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. After a while, collectors started hitting me up.
In the beginning, I refused, because I didn’t feel like my art was up to par. But after a few months, I got to the point where I was comfortable accepting money for my work. I launched 10 paintings on 18x24 canvases at $500 a pop.
One day, I was in Vegas, delivering art to a collector there. I got invited to an Imagine Dragons concert. There, one of my friends introduced me to Jarred Fayson, a former NFL player that now managed other athletes.
He saw my work, liked it, and suggested I should start doing art for his athletes. I did some work for a couple of his clients. The first person that got one of my paintings was C.J. Anderson of the Broncos. I did it for free, knowing their teammates would be interested.
Doing free paintings gave me free exposure. I would get in touch with a player, paint a picture, and go and deliver it in person. I’d shake their hand, take a photo, and post the picture on social media. All of this leads to me doing more than 400 paintings for professional athletes.
How the contract with Topps came to fruition?
So, fast forward to early 2019, I decided I wanted to start exploring licensing. I thought baseball cards would be a great fit because I grew up collecting them. While I was looking to connect with one of these card companies, I got an email from Topps.
At first, I thought the email was fake, but I still replied. And what you know, I got on the phone with Jeff, the guy that sends the email, and the entire thing was real. Jeff was recruiting me for what Topps called “Project 2020.”
It was 20 modern artists reimagining 20 iconic baseball cards. I was familiar with most of the cards already since a grew up collecting. My favorite was definitely the Mark McGWire card. It was supposed to be a Team USA card, but Topps lost the rights. While I couldn’t put his Team USA number on the jersey I still added the American flag in the background, as a tribute.
Who’s Micah Johnson, and why is he important?
Ah, Micah! He’s the guy that introduced me to the world of NFT. Micah Johnson is a former MLB player. I did a podcast interview with him, about a year ago. We talked about NFTs and in the beginning, I didn’t really get it.
What was I supposed to do? Sell a JPEG online? To whom? I didn’t think that my art would fit because most of the NFT art I saw, in the beginning, has sort of techie, trippy visuals. Still, I decided to give it a go. I made a few pieces towards crypto.
I didn’t take the NFT market seriously until January 2021. That’s when I started seeing NFTs more and more and the whole marked popped off. That motivated me to start doing more pieces. The first couple of pieces sold for only like $700 and $800.
However, things turned around quickly. Between February 1st and Match 15th, I managed to sell a lot of NFTs and made approximately $64,000 during that period. My story ended up getting covered by CNBC, which was pretty cool.
How did you connect with Terrell Owens?
I’ve known Terrell’s manager Max for years. He’s actually one of the first people I befriended when I arrived in NYC. He has a huge Rolodex of clients. My business partner and thought that TO would be a great fit for our NFT idea.
After a few calls with TO, we seemed to be on the same page. After we got Terrell on board, I recruited 6 other artists. Pairing up with a HOF receiver felt like a really cool thing to them. Each of us created artwork celebrating his career, which was posted in the digital gallery on getchapopcorn.com.
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