Clippers release new City Edition uniform by Mister Cartoon
When the Clippers asked Los Angeles artist Mister Cartoon to collaborate on the design of the team’s City Edition uniform two years ago, one of the first mock-ups made by the artist was a black jersey with white lettering and numbers.
“Maybe next year,” he remembers being told. The team and Nike opted for a white uniform with black accents, including the “Los Angeles” wordmark on the chest in the Old English font that has made Cartoon’s tattoos famous worldwide.
Next year is here. So, too, is the primarily black City Edition uniform, which the team unveiled Tuesday as training camp officially began with individual workouts at the Clippers’ Playa Vista practice facility.
With few differences, such as the color of the team logo at the beltline and a new jersey patch sponsor, and a few elements that have remained the same, such as the red and blue piping underneath each arm, the City Edition uniform for the 2020-21 season is essentially the inverse of last season’s threads. Cartoon, whose work uses the black-and-white palette almost exclusively, said that is no mistake.
Last season’s uniform collaboration began with the expectation of a longer partnership with the team, he said. The parties also worked together on merchandise for COVID-19 relief in the spring, at the start of stay-at-home orders.
“A lot of time these collaborations are like one-hit wonders, right? You come in, you set all this stuff up, people get super hyped, you drop it, and then that’s it, there’s no rebound, there’s no second season,” Cartoon said. “With the sports stuff you can build it over time. You can remix the jersey ... but our approach is still similar. Keep it classic. Keep it sporty. Keep it fluid. Use strong fonts. Be seen from across the street, have it real visual.
“I want to add something each year but the jersey coming out in black is, it’s going to look so dope. It really brings in that NWA, D.O.C, Starter jacket, boom box, black jersey with the Old English, really mid-'80s vibe.”
No date has been set for the uniform’s debut because the NBA has yet to announce its schedule for the 2020-21 season ahead of opening night Dec. 22.
During high school in San Pedro in the late 1980s, with the all-black Grand National his dream car, Cartoon was “5-foot-6 on a good day,” the kind of size that didn’t suggest a future where his path would intersect with basketball players. Over the next three decades, his work designing tattoos and low-rider cars created a celebrity clientele and a deep association with Los Angeles. His reputation led to the introduction with the Clippers.
He said he hoped young artists would take inspiration from his career. Starting in December and running through the regular season’s end in May, the Clippers say they will host monthly Zoom calls dubbed “Make Your Mark” in which about 50 local students will receive an art kit and remote instruction from Cartoon. Cartoon said the sessions will be part instruction, part advising.
“If I do anything with this it’s to be able to tell them my formula and that it worked for me, that it got me to travel the world and got me to buy my mom a house,” Cartoon said. “It takes vision and a work ethic. Put those things together and chip away at it a little each day and you can really achieve something that some people would call a miracle or something. But you actually put hard work behind it and you’re able to manifest just something that was a thought. Now you’re holding it in your hands.”
Five questions the Clippers face entering training camp include the team’s health, ability to form cohesive rotations and new coach Tyronn Lue.
Having already held one session, Cartoon has become the latest Zoom educator during the pandemic. Rule No. 1, he learned, is holding students’ focus.
“I have to keep their attention span, so let’s talk about designing shoes, let’s talk about a jersey,” he said. “What would your jersey look like?”
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