Theme: HBCUs and Sports
HBCU Sports has been one of my favorite topics to draw as of late. I enjoy drawing dynamic and visually active pictures and this opportunity with the NBA was the perfect opportunity to do so. I wanted this piece to really be a celebration of HBCU rivalries in sports and to show how much they mean to us as a culture. Aside from the band rivalries, sports are the next biggest thing when it comes to HBCUs. In addition, I also wanted my influences over the years from anime and manga to show through the illustration as well because there is a lack of Black representation in that space and I always use my work and skills as a platform to amplify Black voices, experiences and culture.
Year/School: Senior/Florida A&M University
Hometown: Macon, Georgia
Link to portfolio: http://www.fixmysole.com
Elijah Rutland, a senior Graphic Design scholar at Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL., is the founder and creator of the rapidly-emerging Fix My Sole brand(www.fixmysole.com).
The brand specializes in the artistic customization of sneakers as well as the conceptualization and execution of unique digital illustrations. Rutland got his start by sketching shoe designs on paper in elementary school because his parents would not buy him the expensive sneakers he wanted. In fact, Rutland recounts how his father told him he would “buy shares of NIKE stock rather than NIKE sneakers.”
Besides his sneaker art, Rutland has enjoyed renown as a digital illustrator as well. In 2018 he created the Black Rolf meme that went viral around the globe. As a result, Warner Bros., Inc. featured Rutland and Black Rolf at Comic-Con 2019 in San Diego. Rutland has also completed two internships at Warner Bros., working as a production manager on projects such as Netflix’s Green Eggs and Ham and a background painter on HBO Max’s upcoming “Aquaman: King of Atlantis” series. Rutland and his work have been featured prominently in GQ.com, solecollector.com and Airbrush Action magazine, among others.
Rutland is a native of Macon, GA., and has thoroughly enjoyed his time as a student at Florida A&M University. He chose FAMU because from his first steps and interactions with the students on campus he knew that FAMU was the right place for him. It felt like he was a student there even though it was only new student orientation. Now he’s in his fourth year and that feeling of FAMULY holds truer than ever. The best thing about FAMU is the support and love that Rattlers show to one another. No matter who you are or where you are from, if you went to FAMU you are a part of the FAMULY and they look out for you in any way they can, and that isn’t something you can get anywhere else. Rutland plans to work in the animation industry as a background painter following graduation before eventually becoming an independent visual artist, designer, and director.
On the HBCU Student Showcase:
As part of NBA All-Star 2021, seven students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) created artwork depicting their experiences as HBCU students. The students selected themes representing HBCU student athletes, dance lines, bands and school legacies as inspiration for their creations. They also drew a connection to the impact of COVID-19 on HBCUs through their work.