Mark Yesilevskiy is an illustrator and graphic designer that has taken his love for the sport and created his own brand of soccer inspired illustrations. In addition to his talents as a designer, he has a great love of Bolton Wanderers, and self describes himself as Buffalo's only Bolton fan.
He even took his talents and applied them to the Holiday '16 crew and blessed us with this amazing illustration! Many thanks for that one, Mark.
We sat down with Mark to hear about more about his love of the game, his work and how it all came to be.
Having been born abroad, soccer has always been around my life, but I'll be honest and admit that I more or less avoided the sport until 2005. I remember watching the 1998 World Cup with my dad growing up and then skipping over the 2002 World Cup because of the time difference. It was only in the buildup to World Cup 2006 that the soccer bug really hit me.
I decided to pick a Premier League team for myself at the start of the 05/06 season. One of the big four teams wasn't for me and having grown up cheering for the small market Minnesota teams for most of my life, I wanted an underdog. After watching the early rounds of that Premier League season, I found that Bolton Wanderers were the team for me.
They were punching above their weight and the personalities of Jay Jay Okocha, Kevin Davies, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Ivan Campo, and Big Sam Allardyce really struck a chord with me. I've been a Trotters fan since.
The illustration series came about as just me wanting a break from my awful day job and a way for me to get creative with soccer. I had started with illustrations of specific players, going with Nick Rimando, Ivan Campo, and Michael Bradley, among others but soon realized that I had much for fun illustrating the kits and not the players themselves.
On top of that, a kit from a specific year has special meaning to the fans and I thought it would mean more to everyone. ESPN has brought me in to illustrate kits for them a few times now (Premier League 2015/16, 2016/17, Euro 2016, and the Copa America Centenario) and those projects have been really enjoyable for me. I'm well past 200 individual kit illustrations counting those projects.
I've now started on an entirely different series, working on stadium illustrations with Old Trafford done and White Hart Lane well on the way.
You can check out more of Mark's work at his website.