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Filip Pagowski on Re-interpreting Motifs For All 30 NBA Teams

The Polish artist, renowned for his editorial and fashion illustration, brings fresh perspective to the league’s franchises. His recast designs appear on a selection of T-shirts launching March 19 exclusively through Nike Connected NBA jerseys

Reworking 30 designs is no small task. However, for Polish artist Filip Pagowski (known for his work with major newspapers and fashion houses), it was the starting point for his first collaboration with Nike — a re-imagining of each NBA team motiff in his own unique illustrative style.

“The idea behind the project was not to replicate the original or the official logos of each team, but rather come up with something that portrayed the team or the place they are coming from, or both, and to have it done in some fun way,” explains Pagowski.

To tackle the challenge, Pagowski decided on three elements of each team to toy with: the team name, the city it represents and its mascot. While sometimes intertwined, these three aspects allowed the artist space to dive into the history of a given franchise and the facts or associated imagery related to the source of a nickname.

A selection of Pagowski's NBA designs

Some proved more challenging than others. “It's a little difficult because some teams relocated, and they relocated sometimes more than once from place to place. They either changed the name or they maybe kept the name. The Lakers, for example, they came from Minnesota originally, and then they ended up in LA,” explains Pagowski.  

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Pagowski's trial sketches for the Bulls

Others allowed free-flowing imagination. “For example, with Chicago Bulls, everybody is familiar with their logo. It's a bull,” says Pagowski. “For me, the Bulls were probably the best team of my generation. I tried to get away from the drawing of the bull's head that's on the official logo. I wanted to make the Bull look strong and powerful and maybe look a little bit ferocious too. I researched it by going through ancient Greek drawings of bulls. And that bull that I did use had some elements from mythological Greek imagery. I found it very elegant and I thought it nicely contrasted with the drawing that's on the official logo.”

Throughout the collection, a balance of history and humor gives new voice to NBA characters, as well as forms distinction between them.

Pagowski’s designs appear on a selection of T-shirts launching March 19 exclusively through Nike Connected NBA jerseys. A second release on the Nike App follows March 21.