Sitting here in a cafe in Bali, I have my first real chance to reflect on the whirlwind that has been the past 18 months. Blasting down the door to the European football world after 10 years of searching for a tiny crack to squeeze a toe into. And then... It all happened with a rush as 5 clubs said "Yes" at almost the same time. This was after 5 trips to Europe to personally present my work and concept.
And meeting Dave.
It has been a very steep learning curve apart from the mountain of actual artwork I've had to create in this time. I've had to get my head around writing business plans, refining the Dream Scene concept, pitching and presenting, negotiating global licensing contracts, social media marketing, website building (and rebuilding), print production and distribution out of the U.K. and Spain, dealing with uncertainty and risk ... ... and jet lag!
There have been several times over the past few years where this concept looked like not making it. I'm pitching an abstract concept to global organisations who have much bigger things to think about. Getting and keeping their attention long enough to understand what I am proposing is tough! 12 months of discussions can evaporate in an instant as other concerns avert their focus.
Transporting large oil paintings across the globe and overseeing print production with new printers is challenging and nerve racking. Just about everything that could go wrong has, and it has all been overcome.
But the best moment in all this for me was meeting Dave.
I divise, design and create these Dream Scene projects to tell a story to the people who they relate to, the community of a Club. These "Clubs" are about so much more than Football. They are a family, a community thats unites generations of people.
I met a Liverpool fan who'd lost a family member during the Hillsborough disaster. People's connection their club is often about much more than just a game. Being commissioned to create an image that encapsulates that history is a task that I don't take lightly.
So when I arrived at Liverpool FC's home at Anfield with a 3 metre oil painting, I was suitably nervous as to it's reception by the club officials. The painting was stored out in a holding room where it was guarded until the CEO was ready to view it. When I went to check on it I was stopped by Dave the security guard.
Dave was, from the look of him, in his 60's, a tough old bugger and determined that 'no man shall pass'. When I told him I was the artist, the transition in his eyes said everything to me. He was one of the only people to have seen the painting at this point. As we stood in front of it he became like a young boy, sharing with me his love for all these players that were now alive again on the canvas. He was born a few streets away from the ground in a working class suburb and had the club ingrained in his DNA for about 5 generations.
I could see the memories pour out of him, with joy and pride and... connection... to the Liverpool community that is his life.
This was the highlight of the entire project for me.
I wasn't so worried what the CEO might think now.