Over the past 15 years, Chris Speakman has developed a passion for art, history and sports. Now Speakman has been able to fulfill his dream with his own company Sports Propaganda.
Four years ago, Speakman created screen prints of such current Boston Red Sox athletes such as 2008 Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia and ace John Lester.
"I really just started doing it for fun, and it just took off from there," said Speakman. "I started selling some of the things on my own and then I got some interest from local teams, and it grew from there."
Originally from the South Shore, Speakman's passion for art developed at an early age when he would often spend hours drawing some his favorite athletes and sports figures.
"I've always had a passion for sports, art and history, and to be able to combine all three of those and make it a successful venture is a tremendous accomplishment," said Speakman. "I've been able to live a dream for the past few years, and it's just been amazing."
During his college years, Speakman attended Hartford University, where he graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration in 1998.
Following graduation, Speakman moved to the Somerville area where he freelanced his artwork for a variety of companies and agencies. During that time, Speakman also dabbled in his passion for creating propaganda sports art.
"It was pretty much a hobby, like a part time thing," said Speakman, "After a couple of years, the demand for it grew and then it started to take off. In fact, it was such a demand, that I had to have that as my full time job."
After creating several prints in 2006, the demands for Speakman's art work grew at a rapid pace and soon, stores began asking for his work to be sold throughout the country.
"The requests that were coming in were amazing,' said Speakman. "People wanted art work of their favorite athletes or events and the business kept growing. Soon I started getting requests not only from fans, but also from businesses, franchise owners of local restaurants, as well as some of the teams themselves."
As a result of the growing demand, Speakman drew screen prints at a rapid pace and in just a span of four years, already has close to 5,000 different themes.
Past themes have included the 2007 World Champion Red Sox along with Manny Ramirez, the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees and this year's All-Star game, which will be held in Anaheim, California.
According to Speakman, the time of year for the highest demand usually starts around September, and usually goes into the off-sesaon. During the season, there's usually a two-week window where Speakman will create Murals for the All-Star game.
"It's been pretty busy," said Speakman. "Right now we have about 4,000 to 5000 prints where people can order through Major League baseball or on my web site."
Currently Speakman is also licensed by the Major League Baseball Association and the Union, which allows him to create screen prints of any athlete or theme he so chooses.
"I'm very grateful for this opportunity, and I'm definitely enjoying every moment of it," said Speakman. "To be able to make a living off my artwork is something I've always dreamed about and it's a dream come true for me."
Not only does Speakman create screen prints of Major League Baseball venues, athletes and events, but has also dabbled into the Ultimate Fighting Championship theme.
Speakman has also worked out a deal with Topps Baseball Card Trading Company, which will print 30 of his screen prints in this year's complete set.
"It's definitely a great opportunity, and it's just unbelievable that everything has come together," said Speakman. "I've been very pleased with the way how far this [business] has grown in such a short amount of time."