Williams illustrates his love for Packers
By Mike Jacquart
Special to The Press Times
GREEN BAY – Students who weren’t able to draw anything more advanced than stick figures in high school art class are likely to find Shawn Williams’ drawing and illustrating talents mind-boggling.
Williams, who lives in Iola, provided the layout and drew original illustrations for the book, “A Century of Excellence: 100 Greatest Packers of All Time.”
Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver and Aaron Jones doing a Lambeau Leap are some of the current and past Packers depicted in the book, which was self-published in 2019.
“I have long loved comic books and how the art tells a story,” said Williams. “My style, if I have one, is probably based on years of looking at mimicking what I saw in comic books.”
Williams’ illustrating skills are varied and cross numerous media platforms.
His many projects have included posters, illustrations and ads, and he recently began taking on dog and cat commissions.
But Williams, a lifelong Packers fan, said he enjoys drawing Packers players more than any other subject.
“I love the NFL and the Packers,” he said.
The look and build of players offer an aspect of the sport Williams notices more than the average fan and serves as inspiration for his different illustrations.
“The NFL is a league full of all different body types, yet all are some of the top athletes in the world,” he said. “I like to try to capture the big play, essentially the moment in each 60-minute contest that defined the game.”
A glance at Williams’ illustration of the Minnesota Vikings’ Anthony Barr sacking Aaron Rodgers will lead most Packers faithful to vividly recall that moment at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis in 2017 when Barr’s controversial hit broke Rodgers’ collarbone, causing him to miss nine games.
The hit, legal at the time, triggered a rule change that penalizes defenders for landing on a quarterback with all or most of their body weight as the passer sets up to throw.
Even routine plays like a punt, quarterback sack or a Lambeau Leap are important parts of any game, and none of them slip past his keen eye and pen.
“I’m always looking for the ‘it’ factor in a player, I suppose like the coaches,” Williams said. “This is why I drew Aaron Jones for the book. I drew him after a Thursday night, all-white jersey uniform on a night where he lit up the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in 2018. They lost the game, but Jones showed he had it.
Williams also gets ideas for sketches from watching preseason games and watching college tape of players who were drafted by the Packers.
Are there any particular players Williams likes to draw?
“I like to draw players that are easy to cheer for,” he said. “For instance, I always thought Donald Driver was such a professional, always smiling and always fearless running routes over the middle of the field. Always blocking and doing the dirty work but also catching everything thrown his way.”
Even more than the specific player, it’s the action imagery of Packers or NFL games that gets Williams’ attention more than anything else.
“Again, these athletes are the best of the best, so it’s not hard to love the action — leaping, diving, throwing, crashing into each other,” Williams said. “It’s similar to the action of superheroes in the comics.”
Williams offered insights about what goes into his artistic process.
“Most drawings start as black and white, so the color is just an extension,” he explained. “With the Packers wearing green and gold and other teams having their specific colors, by adding color, it’s a quick way to represent each team.”
The color still needs to be the correct shade or it might be difficult to tell if it’s the Detroit Lions, for instance, or another team with a blue uniform, such as the Los Angeles Chargers, Houston Texans or Tennessee Titans.
Where and how Williams draws tends to be pretty consistent.
“I’m drawing more and digitally on an iPad,” he said. “It’s the same process: loose pencils, inking, color in one place. It’s something I do often on my lap between plays on Sundays.”
With more than 50 players on every NFL team, and roster turnover each season, Williams has yet to draw as many body types or Packers as he’d like.
“If it’s a unique composition, nobody is off-limits,” Williams said. “I’ve drawn mostly the skill position players like Allen Lazard and Jaire Alexander, so I’m challenging myself to find interesting ways to draw the linemen or guys like Marcedes Lewis that don’t catch the ball that much.”
Quick to deflect his talents, Williams likes to point out the action in sports lends itself to interesting illustrations.
“Sports have a long history of iconic imagery associated with them,” he said. “Realism is great, photos are great, but I’m particularly intrigued by an art impression, meaning going slightly into abstraction or exaggeration to create a memorable image.”
Williams shares his Green Bay Packers art and other images on Instagram at instagram.com/shawnbwilliams.
Editor’s note: Mike Jacquart is a freelance writer based in Iola and wrote this piece for Packerland Pride, another publication in the MMC (Multi Media Channels) family.