"Sports have a hugely important role to play in today’s mythology. It’s more of a religion now than most religions or at least has just as much power to unite and divide people across all classes, across the world. Athletes are modern day kings and saints. Art has always loved to document and create mythology. For me the relationship is beautifully symbiotic. "
"In reality I just love soccer. I can't lie and say I'm enamoured with all sports. In fact I don't really follow other sports at all."
"I’m a cynical introvert. I would give them junk food to make them fat, lazy and unable to complain. I would give them video games so they can stay home, fry their brains and don’t have to come bother me."
Interview Daniel Nyari
Who is Daniel Nyari?
I’m an Illustrator, Designer, and Creative Director.
Where do you reside?
I currently reside in New York City.
Which athlete you get out of bed for to watch? And why?
I grew up watching and falling in love with the Bundesliga and German football, which means these days I get up around 8 to 9 in the morning on the weekends to catch all the action.
Which sports team gets your blood pumping? And why?
My primary passion is for German football but I would lie if I said I’m only tied to it. I can’t just watch one team or one league. It simply limits my ability to enjoy football objectively so I try to keep up with all the major leagues: Germany, Spain, Italy, England and of course my domestic league MLS. They are currently taking up all my free time. I have a soft spot for Barcelona’s football. I fell in love with the identity of the club reading about its history; Cruyff’s revolution and my current favourite manager Pep Guardiola’s famous 2009-2011 team, which I consider the best ever really helped shape my understanding of what football can achieve to be from an intellectual and aesthetic point of view.
Do you play sports yourself?
I started playing soccer as early as three years old. My father played semi-professional soccer back in Romania, my country of birth, and he introduced me to it. He started taking me to matches as well as watching games on the tv.
Who’s your favourite artist? And why?
I would probably say it’s film director David Lynch. My other passion is cinema. I even studied film and have a degree from university in it. I think it was the most important art form of the 20th century going into today. I particularly like Lynch because he opened up the space for me in understanding just how deeply personal art can be – his films are rooted in his subconscious and he is able to pick out ideas that simply don’t exist in our tangible world and translate them into video and sound to create something entirely new. I love many directors, but his particular themes of domestic intrusion, dream-logic and subversion of the norm resonate with my own upbringing.
What was the key moment your love for art grew?
I have a background in art history and a deep appreciation for classic painters like Jaques Louis David, Rembrandt, Manet, etc. going all the way back, so I had all this understanding of what classical art was. But then I was first introduced to impressionism and abstract art. Particularly through Cezanne who paved the way for vanguard of the 20th century like Picasso, Kandinsky, Warhol, etc. That changed my perception of art completely from visual, technical to conceptual. The space for how I perceive art was blown out and that in turn really only deepened my fascination with it. You could say modernism did – the idea of creating for the sake of creating – art as a reason to live.
How did your love for sports come about?
In reality it’s really just soccer. I can’t lie and say I’m enamoured with all sports. In fact I don’t really follow other sports at all. I think soccer is unique for all the cliché reasons. There is an undeniable universality and artfulness to it that drew me to. My connection to it is very much rooted in my own story having moved around as a child from Romania to Austria and then to New York. It’s difficult to say the relationship will ever truly disappear.
When did sport become a subject of your own art?
Since it’s such an integral part of my life, it just made sense that I started drawing the things I know. Soccer is something I know. Portraits have been something that interest me since I studied classical art so it was a natural combination to me. I think I was only ever really brave enough to share it with the world when I was introduced to social media platforms. Getting positive reactions encouraged me to continue and here I am.
What is Daniel Nyari’s style?
My current commercial work is largely characterised by geometric shapes based on a particular mathematical grid. I use bold flat colours that don’t hide the artificiality of the digital medium.
What is your favourite sport artwork you made?
Recently I was able to illustrate David Villa for an interview with UEFA Champions League Magazine. This was a milestone for me because the interview with Villa was intercut with moments in his illustrious career along with video of my studio working on those portraits. I was able to give David Villa prints and get them personally signed.
Which sport, sports team or athlete has always been on your mind, and is on the list to make a work of?
This always changes. Nowadays I don’t have much time to do any personal work and usually any portraits are largely commissioned by my clients. I have always wanted to do a whole series on my favourite German soccer players. I am hoping by next summer I can finally put away some time to do something for the Euro 2016 Championship.
Which sport artist/colleague of yours do we have to check out?
There are so many talented and amazing creative both of whom I admire from afar and have had the pleasure of working with recently. Here are some: John Zylstra, Michael Marsicano, Jacob Sanders, Molly Mendoza, Nerea Palacios, Kyle Stecker.
Julius Caesar used to say (freely translated): “Give the people bread and games, and they will be quiet.” If you were Julius for a day, wanted to keep everybody relaxed, what food and which games would you give them?
I’m a cynical introvert. I would give them junk food to make them fat, lazy and unable to complain. I would give them video games so they can stay home, fry their brains and don’t have to come bother me.
When I say Art Loves Sport, what’s the first thing that pops up in your mind?
Sports have a hugely important role to play in today’s mythology. It’s more of a religion now than most religions or at least has just as much power to unite and divide people across all classes, across the world. Athletes are modern day kings and saints. Art has always loved to document and create mythology. For me the relationship is beautifully symbiotic.