Charles Fazzino: 'I believe in our armed forces'

By Jamie M. Blanchard | May 06, 2013, 9 a.m. (ET)
Charles Fazzino print created for the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte
Charles Fazzino created the artwork that will be used on the cover of the Warrior Games program

3D pop artist Charles Fazzino, a licensee of the United States Olympic Committee, was recently commissioned to create the official artwork for the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, a competition for 260 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans, in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11-16.

Fazzino's artwork will grace the cover of the event program, which is available for free during competitions at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the United States Air Force Academy. Starting at $24.95, it is also available for purchase now at TeamUSAShop.com as the official event poster and limited edition fine artwork.

How did your work with the Warrior Games come about? I've worked with the United States Olympic Committee since 2000 and only recently heard about the Warrior Games. As soon as I learned more about them, I knew I wanted to get involved.

Why was it important for you to create Warrior Games artwork? It's important for me to use my artwork to help causes that I believe in and I believe in our armed forces. They are making incredible sacrifices for all of us and they deserve to be celebrated not only for what they have done but for what they have yet to achieve.

A portion of the proceeds from the artwork will benefit physically disabled and visually impaired athletes. Why do you support U.S. Paralympics? I’ve been inspired by the whole Olympic Movement since I was a child. These athletes achieve incredible feats on a daily basis. Then when you consider that someone is performing at that high level in a wheelchair or with impaired vision or some other disability, it just blows me away. Talk about inspiring.

Absolutely. Have you ever depicted disabled athletes or people in your artwork previously? Yes, I have done artwork for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Multiple Sclerosis Society and those pieces have included disabled people. There are a lot of people in all of my works and I very often include someone who is disabled.

From the color of the uniforms worn by the athletes to the depiction of the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the United States Air Force Academy, everything in the artwork is spot on. How important was accuracy for you? Very important. I do a lot of research for all of the artwork I create. For the sporting events, it's even more important to get the colors and the venues correct because they are central to the theme and the experience of being there.

A lot of aspects of the Warrior Games are shown in your print. It’s important for me to try and capture the entire essence of an event: the celebration, the competition, the venue, the entire experience. That was the inspiration.

How long does it typically take you to create a print? A long time!

What is the process for creating a 3D print from start to finish? I start with a drawing, just like any artist. But then my artwork goes through a very unique process. Once I’ve completed the original artwork, it is printed on archival quality board and paper. In order to make one limited edition artwork, three sheets of the artwork need to be printed. Then each sheet of paper is cut out by hand using an exacto knife and layered in three dimensions. The finishing touch is the hand-application of embellishments such as Swarovski crystals and acrylic paint glitter. They are a labor of love.

How did you get started in 3D artwork? Both of my parents were artists and I loved pop-up books as a kid. I always knew I wanted to be an artist and I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York.  I developed the 3D technique early in my career by accident. I took a class and started adapting 3D elements into my flat paintings and people just loved them. I knew I was on to something and have spent the last thirty years refining my technique and style
 
What are some of the other pieces that you've created? Wow. I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years and my art is exhibited in more than 20 countries around the world. I’ve created hundreds and hundreds of works. I have painted 13 Super Bowls for the NFL, nine All-Star Games for Major League Baseball, sevent Olympic Games for the USOC and many more high profile events. There’s just so much. But you can see the entire current collection on www.fazzino.com.

What do you hope people take away not only from your Warrior Games artwork but your work in general? My work is meant to be happy and exciting and detailed, a true celebration of who we are and what we do, both recreationally and professionally. I’ve been called a pop culture historian because my body of work really is a history of what life is really all about.

What is next for you? My artwork is considered pop art and in that vein, I’m always trying to build my community and reach out to the people who collect my work. You never know what is next. But if you're interested in learning more about my work, join my community on Facebook at facebook.com/FazzinoPopArt/.

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