M’sian artist creating beautiful sports digital artwork

On June 22, 2022, Safee Sali and Prime Sports NFTs came together to unveil a set of 10 NFTs called ‘Sepuluh’. It was launched to capture the fondest memory of Safee in his prime in the Harimau Malaya jersey via digital art.

“[The NFTs] to allow fans to own a piece of my story as a collectible,” Safee said at the launch. “My fans have been the mainstay of my support throughout my career and the ‘Sepuluh’ NFT opens doors to forge closer ties with them.”

For those who may not know him, Safee Sali is well known in the Malaysian football world for his countless achievements.

He mainly plays as a striker for various football teams and he also represented the Malaysian national team from 2006 until his retirement in 2017.

Safee Sali scoring his goal during an international match / Image credit: Google

He is the only Malaysian footballer to score in four consecutive AFF Championship tournaments, and he is currently Malaysia’s all-time top scorer in the tournament, winning a gold shoe for his best performances.

NFTs were created by Nicholas Chuan, who considers himself a big fan of Safee Sali. Nicholas is a digital artist from Penang whose portfolio includes artwork from international sporting giants such as FIFA, UEFA, FC Bayern and Formula 1 Red Bull Racing.

His various artwork from FIFA, UEFA and Liverpool FC / Image Credit: Nicholas Chuan

The renowned footballer worked closely with the digital artist to develop ‘Sepuluh’ which was subsequently minted and auctioned on OpenSea by Prime Sports NFT.

Prime Sports NFT is an organization dedicated to bringing the worlds of sports, arts and culture together, as well as providing opportunities for athletes and leading fan engagement initiatives.

Since there’s no shortage of stories surrounding Safee’s crowning achievements, we’ve turned this story’s attention to Nicholas, the 19-year-old artist whose career has just begun.

Discover their talents

Nicholas’ artistic career stems from his interest in designing various types of artwork in his spare time. In elementary school, he bought tons of notebooks and started drawing a series of comics in his class.

“I remember showing my classmates and family my creation,” he recalls. “Everyone has been very supportive of me and the comics I’ve created, and it’s given me a huge boost of confidence.”

When he was 14, he came across the football community on Twitter, where he discovered that there were people posting fan-made edits and designs of athletes and footballers.

It was also around this time that Nicholas’ father installed Photoshop on his old laptop, which inspired the young Penangite to explore his artistic abilities, and it eventually became his self-taught hobby.

“Since then, I have continued to develop different artistic styles to expand my skills,” the artist said.

It was not until 2020, during the MCO, that he had ample time to delve into more daring works. It was also at this time that he discovered his talent for illustration.

A thing for the arts and sports

The designer shared that he had played quite a bit of football himself and had been a huge Manchester United fan since he was nine years old.

It’s common for kids to say they want to be superstar footballers when they grow up. But not everyone manages to realize this dream (including me). To be as good as Christiano Rolando or Leonardo Messi is a hundred to one.

For Nicholas, he recognizes that his strength doesn’t lie in physical sports, but that doesn’t mean he has to stop loving sports.

“I’m not as good as my other friends,” he admitted. “So I decided to focus a little more on the art.”

And indeed, art turned out to be its own way of doing sports.

Rise to Glory

His fame began when he designed and published a work by famous Japanese tennis player, Naomi Osaka, who was ranked No. 1 in 2019 by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), and was the first Asian player to hold the highest ranking in singles. .

Nicholas also considers the artwork his most proud artwork. “I can say that it helped kick-start my career as a designer, and it played a huge part in my exposure to the creative industry.”

While designing a series of other football-related artworks, the artist continued to receive bursts of fame and support from many sports fans on social media, highlighting the power of fandom.

“I didn’t expect the community to be so big,” he said. “I also didn’t know that my works also attracted a lot of people.”

That’s no surprise though, because even to me, its clean lines, high-contrast colors, and overall composition serve to create a dynamic and captivating piece every time.

One by one, customers from various sports industries started pouring in, each asking for collaboration. It was then that Nicholas realized he needed to broaden his artistic horizons to cover other types of sports.

Besides football, he has gained attention for his collection of Formula 1 Red Bull Racing artwork, for which the artist said he was personally rooted in the world of motor racing.

His Red Bull Racing art collection / Image credit: Nicholas Chuan

Color your dreams

Although there is a proven interest in his work, the young artist has no intention of converting his personal works into NFT. However, “if clients are willing to collaborate on a project together, I’m open! he told Vulcan Post.

According to Nicholas, deals were usually package based, as royalties are more difficult to deal with in contracts.

In the next two years, he plans to start a printing company and hopefully be able to set up a digital agency to expand production for his company, Chuan Graphics.

“The steps for me to get there are a tough one, that’s for sure,” he remarked. “But as my portfolio grows, I hope to be able to achieve my goal in the near future.”

  • Learn more about Nicolas Chuan here.
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Featured image credit: Nicholas Chuan

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