Brian Dawkins:
Immortalizing a Philadelphia Legend

Posted by on Oct 3, 2012 in Blog, Career Highlights | 2 Comments

Philadelphia Eagles' Brian Dawkins [finial design] by David E. Wilkinson

Sometimes the most difficult part of being a commercial artist is not being able to share the excitement of a new opportunity or finished piece right away. In the case of working in the toy industry which is very competitive and secretive, I am not allowed to either discuss what I am working on or show the results until the product has hit the shelves. This is usually anywhere between six months to a year’s time which seems like an eternity when you are proud of something you have done and can’t wait to share it with the world.

In this case, the piece I was creating was for a specific event and a surprise for the recipient. That recipient was none other than legendary safety for the Philadelphia Eagles Brian Dawkins. The event would be his number retirement during a game against the Super Bowl champion New York Giants on September 30th.

After getting the blessing of both Eagle’s co-owners Jeffery and Christina Lurie, I was officially commissioned to create the portrait and began working on the piece back in the beginning of June. This would be my first official commission from the Eagles and as excited as I was for that and to have been given the distinct honor of creating such an important piece for such an important event honoring such a great player, I could not say anything about publically. I simply had to get to work and keep the news to myself.

The initial direction of the piece was to capture Brian’s “Weapon X” nickname / persona of Marvel Comics’ X-Men character Wolverine. After sketching out the figures, I thought it would be a great idea to lay the whole thing out as a comic cover with his name as the title, etc. Although I was initially unsure of the direction, I really liked the way the concept came out. Unfortunately it was decided the layout was too busy so I had to head back to the drawing board.

Wolverine Cover Concept

 

As I was working closely with the Luries and upper management on our piece which continued to evolve through a couple more stages, the Eagles’ corporate sales department had the same idea of doing a Wolverine related piece as a fan give away and unbeknownst to us, had already hired Marvel to do it.

Not wanting to have competing “Wolverine” related pieces, it was decided to switch gears and go with something more personal and traditional instead.

While the layout continued to evolve through a few more iterations before settling on a horizontal format, the goal was always to create an image that best represented the man, his personality and his career while keeping it “simple and clean”. I like to think we accomplished that goal and am very happy with the result.

I am not sure I can ever express my thanks to the Lurie family and the Eagles for putting their trust in me to create such an important gift. Brian Dawkins is one of the most popular Philadelphia Eagles ever. He is one of those athletes that come along once in a great while that simply epitomizes what Philadelphia is all about. Hard work, intensity, toughness and heart. When they won, you knew he shared the fan’s excitement reacting exactly as they were. When they lost, you knew it bothered him just as much as it did they as he wore his emotions on his sleeve. This is why the fans adored him and why Philly sports fans gravitate to and identify with certain athletes over others. It is not how much skill you have, it is how hard you work and how much you care. Perhaps no one in Eagle’s history did both more than Brian Dawkins.

It was such an absolute honor to meet Brian and his family. Both he and his wife seemed genuinely touched by my work and both rejected my handshake for a big hug instead. To have been a part of such an important night in his life and career as well as Eagles’ history is simply a dream come true. To see my work being introduced by team owner Jeffery Lurie, proudly unveiled by Christina Lurie and serving as decoration on the 50 yard line during the halftime ceremony behind both Merrill Reese and Brian himself is something that brings such a great sense of both pride and accomplishment. An absolute highlight of my career to say the least and something I will never forget.

Thank you once again to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Lurie family for the opportunity. Congratulations to Brian Dawkins on your number retirement and an absolutely amazing career.

©2012 The Wilkinson Gallery.LLC

Year: 2012 Event: Number Retirement Ceremony

Dawkins_UnveilEagles-Crowd

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2 Comments

  1. Millard Wilkinson Jr
    April 7, 2014

    David the artistic renditions were great and you sure captured the personsa of Brian Your explanation as a Professional Artist and a Graphic Drsigner of the research and planning one goes through to capture in the finished product reality of the indivdual you are memorializing is acredit to your creative genius I am extremely proud of you. YOUR DAD

    Reply
  2. Gerry Nailon
    May 24, 2014

    Wonderful story to go along with such a great piece! I need to add it to my collection.

    Thanks for sharing such a great experience!

    Best Regards,
    Gerry

    Reply

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