FINISHED!! Introducing my Yankee Stadium word art…handwritten with the names of EVERY YANKEE to play in the original stadium!! pic.twitter.com/f8yIspahAL
— Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) September 20, 2017
With an unbelievable ability to combine passion for art and sports, Daniel Duffy uses words to create works of art that are both captivating visually and take you on a trip down memory lane.
There are not too many people in the world that can combine their love of sports with a God-given artistic ability and turn it into a life-long occupation. Daniel Duffy, however, is one of those people.
I had the honor and privilege of interviewing the man responsible for that beautiful likeness of Old Yankee Stadium featured at the top of the article, as well as a myriad of other phenomenal works that can be viewed and purchased at www.artofwords.com.
BT: “How did you get started with Word Art?”
DD: “It was a project assignment I received in college where we were given three words that not only had to be used and visible in the piece, but also had to have the finished product convey the meanings of the three words. I was given the words fabulous, fantastic and fantasy. So, I wrote the word ‘fabulous’ in sort of a fantastical 70’s style. But while I was doing it, I was thinking if I could use a lot of words, then I might actually be able to make it into an illustration. Fast Forward a little bit, and I started designing magazine covers for outlets like Golf Digest. The magazines would ask me to come up with an image for the article, which led me to think how cool it would be to make the article into the image. And that’s really where I came up with the idea of sort of marrying the two different projects.”
BT: “Utilizing your new ideas, what was the first piece you ever created?”
DD: “I was always looking for a way to go beyond just doing graphic design work for a trade magazine and become a legitimate artist. In 2008, I met this girl I wanted to impress but didn’t have anything to showcase my artistic abilities other than my graphic design work. So I decided to do Abraham Lincoln, using the words from his second Presidential Inauguration speech. She loved it. Being from Philadelphia, how I really won her over is that we spent that entire 2008 MLB postseason watching every Phillies game together. And when they won the title, I took every game matchup and final score of that year in a piece that showed the moment they won it all. She loved it so much that we decided to make prints of it and sell it outside of the Phillies ballpark on Opening Day of the 2009 season. Originally, I was just hoping to make enough money to pay to get into the game, but it took on a life of its own and way more than I could’ve ever imagined. That girl and I are now married.”
BT: “How did you come up with the idea to do Yankee Stadium?”
DD: “While we were selling my work outside of Citizen’s Bank Park during the playoffs, Major League Baseball had some undercover that informed me that I needed a license to sell my work. So, I had to go meet with Major League Baseball at their headquarters in New York, which is a crazy story in of itself. I told them that I envisioned doing every World Series Champion from present day and work my way backward. Now that I am probably the smallest MLB licensee on the planet, all of my big pieces(Wrigley Field, Fenway Park) were getting the most attention. So I just said to myself, ‘I have got to do something with the Yankees’. I had originally done Derek Jeter in 2009, but quickly found out that he’s got his own license. So, that was out. That’s when I decided on The House That Ruth Built.”
BT: “How many names did you use and how long did the piece take to finish?”
DD: “Knowing that I would be tackling the Yankees, I had a little trouble as to where to even start. All I know is that I have to give a major shout out to baseballreferrence.com for all their help. In total; it took me close to 200 hours(about three weeks) to hand write the names of 1,465 Yankees, including every player who ever played for the Yankees in that ballpark and even used the 2009 Championship team as well. The next time they win it all, I plan to add the names of the members of that team on to this piece and continue to fill in the audience members in the piece. In essence, it is a living piece that can continue to grow over time.”
BT: “How did you decide which era of baseball and which vantage point of the ballpark to use?”
DD: “I have used the same process now for about the last eight years, which involves Googling images of whatever ballpark I am considering doing. Then, downloading upwards of 300-400 of those images and categorizing them into appropriate sections like ‘third base dugout’ or ‘home plate perspective’. But I knew with Yankee Stadium that I wanted to be sure to include the classic and unforgettable facade in right field. That idea led me to think of what era to illustrate in the piece. I thought it would be cool to make it around the time that lights were installed at Yankee Stadium in 1946, which also sort of commemorates those unbelievable Yankee teams from that era. Also, with their being so many playoff games played in that ballpark over the years, I added the classic bunting that hangs over the facing of the upper deck to give it that sort of playoff atmosphere.”
BT: “Does the scene in your piece depict any specific opposing team or moment that actually took place?”
DD: “Not really. Having used so many blues and greens throughout the piece already, I was looking to use a warm color like red or orange to stand out amidst the myriad of cool colors. Originally, I was going to use orange as my go-to color, but I realized that so many classic teams use red as their primary team color (St. Louis, Cincinnati, etc.) that I decided to go with red. So not really any particular game or moment in time, but more so to have the chance to use two classy teams like the Yankees and the Cardinals.”
BT: “Are there any pieces fans of your work should be looking forward to?”
“Definitely. I’ve been asked to do something for the upcoming World Series. So whoever comes out on top at the end of October, I plan to stay up that night and honor whichever team takes home the title with 40-50 hours of work that will hopefully result in something pretty special.”
BT: “Aside from your site artofwords.com, are there any other venues or stores where one can purchase your work?”
DD: “Easily the coolest part of being an MLB licensee is that my work can be found and purchased in the gift shop at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. They have most definitely been our best source of retail sales. Aside from that, the majority of the purchases have come from the internet.”
Duffy finished the interview by adding that the reason he started to really get his work out there can be traced back to his days of selling posters in the Citizen’s Bank Park parking lot. He vividly recalled an instance where a young boy pleaded to his father to buy him one of Duffy’s posters following the game. The little boy exclaimed, “Dad! We were just there! In that very same ballpark!” The exclamation prompted his father to inquire, “How much are you going to kill me with your prices here, man?” to which Duffy replied, “Ten bucks.” So the man bought two. And it was at that moment that Duffy decided that he wanted to create quality art that was affordable to the working class man. Just awesome.
Whether it be impressing a girl or creating an absolutely unforgettable likeness of Yankee Stadium, Daniel Duffy has found a way to combine his love of sports and his passion for art and turn it into a life-long, word-filled wild ride.
If you would like to purchase the Yankee Stadium piece or any of the rest of Duffy’s incredible works, head over to artofwords.com to find some extraordinary art for exceptionally fair prices. A perfect gift idea for the sports fan in your life, just in time for the upcoming holiday season.