Basically, I took the approach when making art, if I had an idea and it didn’t work, then I’d try the opposite approach. It’s hard to explain, but overall, it helped and was a good experience.
If you’ve ever visited Philadelphia, chances are you’ve come across a flier or two featuring artist Jim Anderson’s dark take on the city’s beloved mascot, “Gritty.”
Gritty, a 7-foot tall, bright orange furry creature with googly eyes, is the official mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers National Hockey League team.
Anderson gave the cartoonish-looking character a heavy metal makeover. The reaction to his art was overwhelmingly positive.
“He blew up real quick, it was kind of cool how Philly fanatics took to it,” said Anderson, who now has a steady stream of orders coming in to create various merchandise with, what are now, various versions of heavy metal Gritty.
The former Massachusetts native and 2010 graduate of Bridgewater State University moved to Philadelphia shortly after obtaining his art degree, and that’s where he opened his own graphic design and printmaking business, GrimGrimGrim.
Originally from Malden, Anderson chose BSU because of the proximity to his hometown and the on-campus commuter rail, which provided easy access into Boston, a place he often frequented on the weekends.
“I wanted to go to a state school, and it was far enough away from the city, but not too far,” he said. “I had a good time there and I learned a lot in the art department.”
When he enrolled at BSU, Anderson’s goal was to pursue a career as a graphic designer, something he was drawn to as a teenager.
He got his first opportunity to create art for public consumption during his last year at Bridgewater when a musician friend asked him to create fliers promoting an upcoming Boston show.
“I thought, this could be a good side gig for me,” Anderson said.
After that first flier, the requests started coming in.
“At first no one paid me for them, but as I did more I started asking for money and doing posters for bigger bands,” he said.
Soon, though, the world began to change, with promotions and advertising shifting online.
“In terms of the design aspect, a lot of careers on that track became mostly web focused, I wasn’t prepared for that,” he said.
A professor at the time suggested that Anderson adjust how he approached art.
“Basically, I took the approach when making art, if I had an idea and it didn’t work, then I’d try the opposite approach. It’s hard to explain, but overall, it helped and was a good experience,” Anderson said.
That methodology has served him well and led him to be his own boss which allows him to create the type of art he wants, which he describes as “monster, chaotic imagery,” and in doing so has found his niche.
Today, Anderson’s clients hire him to create specific pieces and branding for clothing, posters, “basically anything you can slap a logo on,” he said.
But it’s his take on Gritty that has put him on the map in the Philadelphia area.
“Philly has a great sports base, their fans are insane,” he said. “I like that I’ve been able to create something more accessible for the people who love their sports here.”
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