STREET, ARDS AND DESIRE: BLAKE JAMIESON AND HIS JOURNEY TO TOPPS PROJECT 2020
Sports Card Monthly|July 2020
GROWING UP IN THE 1980S AND COMING OF AGE IN THE ’90S, BLAKE JAMIESON WAS ALL ABOUT THE BASH BROTHERS — MARK MCGWIRE AND JOSE CANSECO. FROM MARIN COUNTY, JUST NORTH OF SAN FRANCISCO, HE WATCHED THEM LIVE AT THE OAKLAND COLISEUM WHEN HE WAS YOUNG. AT HOME, HE AND HIS FATHER AMASSED A COLLECTION OF AROUND 70,000 BASEBALL CARDS.
RYAN CRACKNELL

A lot has happened to Jamieson since then, something we all experience when youth gives way to adulthood. His journey has had plenty of stops but, in many ways, is coming full circle. Now an artist working out of New York, Jamieson’s work can be found in Topps Project 2020. In turn, it has helped bring him back to the hobby that was a major part of his earlier years.

“It feels surreal. A lot of the cards in the 2020 series are fitting into that ’85 to ’95 window where I was collecting cards so I remember them,” Jamieson said. “The fact now that I’m going to create something that is art that is also an homage to one of my favorite icons of my childhood like Mark McGwire.”

A PATH TO THE JOURNEY

Besides baseball, art has always been a part of Jamieson’s life. When it came time to head off to college, it was his parents who were encouraging him to do something in art, whether that was on the production side or with art history.

However, it was business that he went with, studying economics at UC Davis. That led to a successful career in digital marketing, working for big companies like Zynga and smaller startups in a field that was just starting to emerge.

“It gave me a little bit of an outlet to have some creative freedom, whether it was writing blog content or shooting videos for those companies,” he said. “That was creatively stimulating for a while.”

But on his 30th birthday, Jamieson recognized it was time for a change.

“I was just dreading Monday and I didn’t want to go into the office,” he remembered. “I only get one shot so I want to do something that makes me truly happy.”

He resigned from his job, not knowing exactly what he wanted to do next.

Jamieson continued, “At that time I wasn’t necessarily thinking I was going to quit marketing and start painting full time. It was just about quitting marketing and doing something that made me happy.”

Although a huge change, Jamieson knew it was what he had to do.

“As a human being, I’m very risk-tolerant. I’ve always been that way. I’m a gambler and I will gamble on myself 100 percent of the time, even if I keep losing,” he said.

A STREET ART STATE OF MIND

The next step was a five-week trip to Barcelona, Spain. Jamieson didn’t have any specific plans in mind but it was a part of the world he’d never seen.

Upon his arrival, he did a couple of walking tours, something there’s a lot of in Barcelona. One dove into the city’s history with street art and graffiti, a style that Jamieson has always been drawn to.

“The tour guide was walking us through the city and talking about how in the ’80s, Barcelona as a city kind of embraced street art and graffiti so they would allow people to paint wherever they want and whatever they want,” he explained. “And then there was a change of power and the new leader of the country decided they didn’t want paint all over the city.

“Artists from all over the world would come to Barcelona to paint there because it was allowed and embraced. So there’s this crazy history behind it that really spoke to me. I got super inspired and when I got home that night to my hostel, I looked across the street and there was an art store that sold art supplies. If there’s ever a sign, this was one.”

Jamieson immediately got to work. During the day, he’d plan and create stencils on his hostel’s rooftop. Late at night, he would go out and paint, doing street art and graffiti.

Being a foreigner in Barcelona helped Jamieson get noticed. More importantly as an artist, it brought feedback.

“They loved it and they would want to see what I was working on. They were encouraging of the art,” he said. “When the trip ended I decided that that was what I was going to do. I was excited to wake up every single day and do what I wanted.”

FATE MAKES A GREAT PARTNER

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