001-Michael James

Designer at NBA


Feature No. 1 | December 3rd, 2019
Photography: @jaclyn___barr

 

You have a unique style of design. Where do you pull your inspiration from?

First off, I'd like to thank Alex & Jon for giving me the opportunity to be part of this project. I’ve been a fan of Local Hoops for a few years now, and I truly believe in the work they are doing within the basketball community. 
       
For me, my inspiration mainly comes from my childhood. I’ve always been drawn to timeless art. Art that can live in different eras. Art that can be understood by a child as well as an adult. I’m constantly trying to portray that feeling of simplistic nostalgia through my work while pushing it to still feel modern. Some artists that I look to, who have achieved this are Charles Schultz, Hayao Miyazaki, Osamu Tezuka, Spike Lee, Tinker Hatfield, Ralph Lauren, & Walt Disney.

Do you have any childhood hoops stories that have stuck with you to today? If so how have they inspired the work you do today?

I grew up in the Bronx during the 90s/early 2000s era of basketball. Jordan, Iverson, Marbury, Kobe, Penny, Jason Williams. These guys changed everything for me. I wanted to play like them, dress like them, walk like them. I cried over a pair of Jordan’s at the mall when I was 10. My dad took me to the 1998 All Star game here in NY. I was completely enamored by the whole experience. The graphics and content coming out of that era were bold, full of attitude, and unapologetic. It was a time where people were really pushing new ideas and discovering new ways of creating with the rapid growth of the internet. All of that has stuck with me and influences my work today immensely. I think that everything I do is a love letter to that era.

 

How do you like working at the NBA? What is the most rewarding work you have done there?

Working for the NBA has been a huge blessing. A dream, really. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point and I’m very conscious of not taking it for granted. The most rewarding part of working for the NBA is being able to work on an amazing team full of talented people for a brand that touches so many lives. Not just here in the states, but globally. Seeing it from the inside has shown me just how much this brand cares about its fans and the community of basketball. The league is all about innovation and forward thinking, which creates this culture of constant growth and collaboration which is something I really enjoy. 

 

What does Basketball represent and mean to you?

To me basketball is the most beautiful game. Not just for what happens inside the lines, but more so for the impact it has on people.  It strips you of everything the world tries to label you as. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. It doesn’t matter what car you drive or what train you take. It doesn’t matter what you believe in or who you pray to. It strips you of all of that. All that matters is the game. Different people, different backgrounds, different genders, different stories & different beliefs, can all come together for their shared love of the game.

 

 

Talk about the design you did for Local Hoops. What inspired you to reach that design and what inspires you to combine your love for hoops and design?

For the collaboration I did with Local Hoops, I really wanted to design something that could be worn on and off the court. For the graphic, I sourced inspiration from 90s trading cards, mainly the “Skybox  EX-2000” series form 96-97. I remember those cards blowing my mind when I was a kid and I wanted to recreate that in a way that would translate through apparel.

The seed to combine my love for basketball and design was planted years ago on my first visit to the NBA store. Back when it had its grand opening, my parents took me down to visit the store. They were holding all kinds of interactive exhibits to celebrate the opening. One in particular was a set up where they’d take your photo and then superimposed you onto a “NBA magazine” cover. I was blown away by the fact that my face was on the cover and that someone had created that right there on the spot. Whoever that designer was that created the cover that day left a lasting impression on me. That’s what I strive to achieve above anything else. To inspire even just one person with my work. To leave a lasting impressions & plant a seed for someone else.