Philadelphia Sports Day

From Beer To Baseball: Phila. Native Shore Draws On Sports In Topps Project

Topps/Keith Shore

The concept of a beer label as an art canvas at first glance might seem out of place. But Danish craft brewer Mikkeller found the right artist in Philly native Keith Shore, and his work depicting everything from surreal everyday scenes to sports teams has helped vault the brand to cult status among its followers.

Now, Smart is one of 20 artists commissioned by Topps to reimagine 20 iconic baseball cards in its “Project 2020,” which launched last week. In all, 400 card will comprise the set, ranging from the cardmaker’s first efforts in the 1950s up through today’s superstar Mike Trout.

Shore took some time to talk to Philly SportsDay about his thoughts on the series, his Philadelphia fandom and what baseball cards mean to him.

Philly SportsDay: What have been your inspirations in some of the sports and non-sports work you’ve done?

Keith Shore: I have a ton of talented friends that inspire me. My kids art always amazes me. A lot of things from my childhood influence me – like comics, cartoons, wrestling, trading cards, toys…

PSD: How do you pick your subjects?

KS: Most of my work is created for beer labels. The ingredients in the beers can inform my choices or the beer name might inspire a concept. All of my artwork is centered around the Henry & Sally characters and each label / design shares of a glimpse of their adventures together.

Mikkeller/Keith Shore

PSD: Have you been a baseball fan and if so what team or players?
KS: I am born and raised in the Philadelphia area and live here now with my wife and kids. My dad had a lefty baseball glove ready for me when I was born and made sure i was a Phillies fan. Baseball was a big force in my life while growing up but I was always more drawn to hockey and I’m still a huge Flyers fan. My daughter and son both play ice hockey. We are always at the rink. Its a huge part of our lives. Total joy for me seeing them out there on the ice.

PSD: Did you collect baseball or other trading cards growing up, or now?
KS: Not now, but cards were a huge part of my childhood. I started collecting Garbage Pail Kids and then moved on to baseball cards – buying packs of 1986 Topps. I collected for many years… Big trading sessions with friends and tons of time spent wandering the aisles of baseball card shows.

PSD: What are some of the challenges of taking an existing piece, in some cases, pretty well known like a card, and creating your own interpretation of it?
KS: Baseball cards are so nostalgic to me. I see an old card and it instantly brings me back to a certain moment / time in my life. For me, it was important to pay respect to the original design & layout. It’s the composition & typographic choices that stay in your brain forever and immediately connect you to the year that card was released. I kept my recreations true to their original layouts & color palettes but brought my own style to the treatment of the players, uniforms and worlds around them.

PSD: Have you done any of the cards yet and, if so, which have you enjoyed most? Which was most difficult/challenging?

KS: So far I have reimagined the 1984 Don Mattingly and the 1959 Bob Gibson cards. Had fun with both. Love the wild colors and palm tree in Bobs card. I am working on my third one now – the Mark McGwire 1987 Rookie Card.

PSD: Will you go to a baseball game now, or follow the sport more?
KS: I don’t follow baseball at all anymore. But I always enjoy going to a game every now and then. I spent a lot of time at Citi Field when we opened the brewery there. Went on the field a few times and watched the Winter Classic in the owners suite – many pinch me moments that I’m very grateful for.

I’m excited that my art will be shared more in the sports world now. Topps cards meant a lot to me growing up. I am honored to be a part of this Project 2020 art series.

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