A major event deserves a major piece of art.
So when the NFL released its annual style guide for the NFL Draft, Vikings creatives were inspired.
Vikings Entertainment Network and True North, the team's in-house creative team, opted to collaborate with a third-party artist to put a unique spin on the branding of this year's draft. They teamed up with Graffiti Arts Mural Company, a collective of artists across the U.S. with graffiti roots.
"With the NFL design leaning in to various paint elements, we looked at producing a mural that could be woven into a lot of our Draft creative," said Vikings Executive Director of Digital & Innovation Scott Kegley. "Hopefully fans enjoy seeing that as part of our social content leading up to this marquee event in the offseason."
Valentino from the Klughaus Collective, Graffiti USA's Co-Owner and Creative Director, was thrilled with the opportunity to work with the Vikings. The collaboration resulted in a mural that will lead the way on multiple graphic design elements over the weekend and hopefully find a permanent home at Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center.
"Growing up I played football and baseball – they were my two big sports – so … I was really excited about connecting multiple interests in one project," Valentino said.
After speaking with the Vikings creative team and hearing the team's approach and desire for a mixed-medium product, Valentino found himself even more enthused.
"I think their approach was awesome," Valentino said. "It was really important to have a really natural aesthetic, so instead of just doing it digitally, [the Vikings were] really interested in it being applied and really getting the more natural texture and more natural look."
Vikings Senior Creative Manager Alicia Dreyer emphasized the team's commitment to a street-art aesthetic that incorporated a variety of style aspects.
"We loved the NFL's branding for the 2021 Draft. We used that look as a jumping point and decided to go all-in on a look that combined poster elements and purple paint," Dreyer said. "We thought it would be a great opportunity to collaborate with an actual mural artist. Most of our work is made and lives in the digital world, so it was really refreshing to work with Valentino and his team on a physical, mixed-medium mural of this scale.
"We met with them and shared our branding and inspiration and let them take it from there," Dreyer said. "We loved seeing their creative interpretation of our branding."
Valentino's love of art is lifelong.
He recalled, as a child in the '80s, taking early notice of graffiti's place in the New York cityscape and on the sides of trains that streaked through.
"It something I didn't understand because I was so young, but it was still really impactful to see it on such a large scale, all these blocks of color," Valentino said. "I wanted to know what it was about. I wanted to know the story behind it, who was doing it. So yeah, I've been really drawn to it since I was a little kid.
"I think what I like most about it is the larger scale, he noted. "And in using spray paint more often than not, it allows you to have a freeform motion to it as opposed to being [more static]. There's almost an act to it. You can kind of move in a motion, and it connects you a bit more [to the art]."
While Graffiti Arts has collaborated with other teams in the past, including the Giants and Jets within the NFL as well as NHL projects, the Vikings draft project was an especially interesting one for Valentino.
He explained that spray paint is often the main medium used for similar murals, but in collaborating with the Vikings for a unique look, he used spray paint to create texture but ended up utilizing mostly brush paint.
In addition to the mural, the two organizations collaborated on other elements for NFL Draft weekend – including hand-drawn typography used as "stickers" in GIFs, player highlight videos, trade-announcement graphics (if needed) and more.
And Valentino wasn't the only one who got in on some painting fun.
Dreyer and the rest of the True North team spray-painted the all-purple helmet used in many of the Vikings draft graphics. They also worked with VEN to physically pour purple paint onto a helmet for animated announcement graphics.
The idea? Painting the town purple.
Valentino and the Vikings alike are thrilled with the finished product and look forward to the art being featured as Minnesota continues to build its roster.
"That it's being broadcast in different mediums makes it that much more interesting and exciting," Valentino said.