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Pure football aesthetics - Interview with Hallyink

Iconic jerseys, football legends and Subbuteo

Pure football aesthetics - Interview with Hallyink Iconic jerseys, football legends and Subbuteo

Gavin Hall aka Hallyink's illustrations bounce from a Twitter account to another, marked by his majestic use of colours, and by those characteristic lines that immediately make his works unique. Gavin was born in the North-East of England, he's been permeated with that spirit and that unconditional love for football since his childhood. His aesthetics is recognisable from those who are grown reading Nic Hornby's novels (and watching the movies they inspired), and it features intersections with TV series and above all with Subbuteo, interpreted by Gavin in a modern key. We had the chance to have a chat with him about his work, the inspirations behind it and his favourite football team.

Hello Gavin, I’m really glad to have you here. I’d like to start by asking you how did you start drawing and when did you get in touch with the world of illustrations?

"Hi Francesco, thanks for the invitation. It's great to be here. I have been drawing since a young age and some of my earliest memories are of me designing my own football shirts. It's always been one of my ambitions to work as a football shirt designer for one of the major brands. I ventured into the illustration world a couple of years ago and my initial style was focused on celebrating the iconic players of a team or a country. This has developed recently to include other designs, some more contemporary, but I am always happier when working on something retro."

In your football illustrations, you’re focusing your attention on uniforms, especially the historical ones. Why?

"I have always been fascinated by football shirt design and the eras and style they represent. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, was a boom time for shirts and I aim to incorporate as many as I can into my work. I have also found that supporters have a greater sense of attachment and nostalgia to a shirt from a particular era sometimes instead of a player who was wearing that shirt. From a design perspective a lot of classic and in some cases design nightmares came from this era."

In your works, you can see a lot of that casual, hooligans-inspired style that was very influent, especially during the 90s. Is it a correct interpretation?

"Although it's not a conscious decision, I think the two go hand in hand so its always going to be interpreted that way. I think the 80s and 90s run right through my work and it's always going to be an era I focus on as it’s the era of my childhood and youth."

Which team do you support?

"I am a huge Hartlepool United fan, which has not been the easiest of ride as we have spent a lot of my lifetime struggling."

You look like a huge football fan. What’s your favourite shirt ever? And which one do you like to illustrate the most?

"My favourite shirt ever has to be the West Germany shirt from the 1990 World Cup, it has everything: a classic shirt should-clean lines, iconic colours and a strong sense of brand and team identity. Also, I have to admit I'm a fan of clubs who retain a strong sense of identity with their design, Sampdoria and Ajax in particular, with their clean and historic designs, which they never vary from."

Lately, on our magazine, we've been discussing a lot the role of sponsors on the aesthetic of a football shirt. What’s your opinion?

"In my eyes sponsorship adds to the aesthetic of a football shirt, however, unfortunately, teams are not as synonymous with brands as they may have been 15-20 years ago. I have to admit I have always been a fan of the continental teams who have several sponsors on their shirts, this is popular in Scandinavia and France. I think it adds a sense of chaos and character to a shirt and is something I have always been keen to base a design on."

Subbuteo tradition is something that, at least in Italy, is getting a bit lost. Why, and when, did you start to illustrate it? And what’s your best memory related to Subbuteo?

"One of my childhood memories is of receiving a Subbuteo set for Christmas with hand painted West Ham and Tottenham Hotspur teams, so I have always been a fan. The decision to incorporate Subbuteo into my designs was following a request from a client, this style has evolved and has proved to be hugely popular. The style is simple and effective shape of the Subbuteo figure complements the modern football kit encapsulating a contemporary and retro flavour. It’s a shame that Subbuteo has not had a renaissance, however, the game is never going to compete with FIFA so remains a purists choice."

Have you ever thought about drawing football boots?

"It's something that I have been keen to work on however the boots do not have the same sense of romantic appeal as a football shirt so may be something I work on in the future."