The man behind Football Stadium Prints on scoring with his much-loved prints and where his love for drawing footie stadiums all began.
Remember those days of the World cup this summer, when England stood tall and there were loads of art and design projects inspired by the Beautiful Game? It seems like a distant age now, but despair not as the spirit of the event lives on in the form of a football-loving designer on an almost Quixotic one-man mission.
The man is Steve Stewart, and the passion project is Football Stadium Prints; 'business enterprise' is more apt though seeing as Steve has now made drawing footie stadiums from around the world his full-time gig. Originally dedicated to Scottish stadiums, the site's remit has now extended to the rest of the UK, and countries as far afield as Iceland and Argentina.
Steve's success comes from dedication and a genuine love for drawing these amphitheatres of entertainment; the partnerships made with clubs on the back of such determination to sell his prints has also helped. Intrigued by the story of a self-made man in the illustration field, we sought out Steve for an email chat on his work, and tried to work out where this mission to immortalise the oh so many stadiums of the world will end (if ever).
GL: Where did your interest in design begin?
SS: "I've always enjoyed drawing in my spare time from a young age but it was always just a hobby, just something to keep me occupied after work.
"Things started to get a bit more serious once I bought a graphics tablet monitor. I absolutely love working in digital."
GL: What about the stadiums? What kickstarted all this?
SS: "I live in London now and I guess I was feeling a bit homesick for my hometown, Brechin. Brechin City F.C.'s stadium is The Glebe, which is famous for having a hedge down one side of the pitch and I wondered if I could put something together that might work well as a print or a t-shirt. I wasn't concerned about it being in team colours or anything like that; I just wanted it to be immediately recognisable to any Brechin fans as soon as they saw it.
"I then started to think that if we have the hedge, what things did other stadiums have that were instantly recognisable to their fans? And I took it from there."
GL: What's special about The Glebe to you?
SS: "It's a small venue so there isn't the same atmosphere you'd normally expect from football, but it had its own kind of atmosphere. You were close to the pitch, and everyone there knew each other so there were just conversations about your past week. There is a real old school sense of community when you get further down the league set up."
GL: What have been your favourite stadiums to draw?
SS: "Netherdale - Gala Fairydean Rovers is my absolute favourite. Probably my favourite building in the whole of Scotland.
"Cappielow - Greenock Morton is another joy. I really like the older stadiums or ones that have fantastic backdrops."
GL: I know you use photos for your work, but have you visited any stadiums in person as inspiration?
SS: "I have indeed. My local team Enfield Town invited me down to give the place a look over before doing their design.
"I've plenty of my own photos from visits to stadiums in the past. I try and get to games as often as possible when travelling. I was also a member of the Tartan Army so went round Europe watching Scotland. On the whole though, people send me photos. Loads of photos, which is always appreciated."
GL: What's the process in finding the highlight of each place, the part of the stadium fans all know and love?
SS: "It depends. I tend to work my way around the ground as best I can until I find something I like, something striking that maybe fans no longer see because they are so used to it.
"I really like Brutalism so if a stadium has anything even remotely brutalist looking I'll be on that like a hawk. But if I've been asked by a number of different people for a particular thing to be included and I think I can do it justice then I'll follow their lead and try and give them what they want, so to speak."
GL: Which stadiums would you love to visit around the world?
SS: "I'd like to go back to Buenos Aires and take in a few more games. I only saw the one when I was there but it was incredible. Racing v River - what an atmosphere. I'd also like to take in some MLS games in the States."
GL: What interesting discoveries have you made from this project?
SS: "I've discovered that the football grounds of Iceland are incredible. And no matter where in the world a person is, their love of football is the same as everywhere else."
GL: Well done on getting the club partnerships - how has that changed things for you and were they easy to arrange?
SS: "Those really just came about by the league and the clubs coming to me. I love that what I'm doing can help bring in some money to those clubs, especially the smaller ones."
GL: Congratulations also on becoming a full-time freelancer. How does it feel to live the dream?
SS: "It feels absolutely amazing. I love knowing that I'll get out of this what I put in. It puts a good feeling of pressure on too, but that is a great motivator. Also, the response I've received since going full time has been incredible. So many kind words of encouragement, people offering advice and wanting to explore collaborations. It's been fantastic."
GL: Any advice for our readers on how to make it?
SS: "Advice? Wow. I'd just say keep plugging away at it. If you enjoy what you're doing and you really love the output then it won't feel like a chore and you need that because any level of success won't come quickly. It can take a while but you just need to keep at it.
"Also, ignore trolls. If you do have an active social media presence you need to learn quickly the difference between helpful constructive criticism and people just being mean. Never feed them, and always try and engage with genuine followers."