2 Minutes With … Sports Artist Carling Jackson
Carling has created over 190 paintings for athletes across 18 leagues and 22 countries. She is also the first sports artist to paint at a FIFA World Cup semi-final and final live on field.
From Olympians to NBA players, her recent pieces rep Adidas, Norman Powell (L.A. Clippers), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls) and Richarlison (Brazil, World Cup). She was commissioned to paint a 20-foot sports gallery, "Amplifying Underrepresented Athletes in Sports" for the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas in 2021.
We spent two minutes with Carling to learn more about her background, her creative inspirations and recent work she's admired.
Carling, tell us …
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
I grew up in White Rock, British Columbia. I went to school in Burnaby, B.C. I played soccer at Louisiana Lafayette and Southern University A&M, graduating with a degree in Black history. I currently live in Vancouver.
Your earliest sports memory.
Watching the All Blacks with my dad on TV when I was 5. I am now friends with several players through my artwork.
Your favorite sports team(s).
Your favorite athlete(s).
Muhammad Ali. A global icon and the epitome of "more than an athlete." He had the soul-force, the power, the talent and the voice to fight for millions of Black people during a time where merely existing with darker skin was a crime. Ali's journey battling Jim Crow and legal racism began in Louisville. His incredible boxing career cannot be separated from his fight in society. He knew he had to be a world champion for people to listen.
Your favorite sports show or podcast.
Your favorite sports movie and/or video game.
A recent project you're proud of.
I flew to Amsterdam to work with Adidas and the Reggae Girlz ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup. I was a part of Jamaica's team camp and painted five players (Bunny, Jody Brown, Allyson Swaby, Rebecca Spencer and Kiki Van Zanten) live on the pitch while the team trained over the course of three days. It was a magical experience.
Someone else's project that you admired recently.
The France National Football Team Women's World Cup 2023 advert: "Les Actions Folles de L'équipe de France Qu'on a Tous Oubliées—Orange." For centuries, the dominating narrative has been "no one will watch women’s sports." This has always been a big fat lie. This brilliant commercial calls out implicit gender bias in the most creative way imaginable. Using VFX, they alter players' appearances. You think you've just watched highlights of Les Bleus, when in fact it was Les BleuEs. Women's football has always been entertaining and beautiful. Campaigns like this shine a light on gender bias while amplifying the ability of women.
What sports can do that nothing else can.
Sport has the power to desegregate a nation—like Jackie Robinson desegregated Major League Baseball in 1947. It has the ability condemn racial injustice and protest war (Muhammad Ali spoke out against U.S. aggression in Vietnam). It can even stop horrific conflicts—an example being Didier Drogba and the 2006 Ivory Coast Civil War. Billie Jean King's play and activism won equal pay for women tennis players in the 1970s. Sport has the power to change the world by uniting nations and amplifying minority voices. It provides opportunities and safe havens for youth and at-risk people globally, and so much more.