Artist Behind The Art: His Work Is Featured On Liverpool FC And Lion City Sailors' IG
STORY: Farhan Shafie
07 January 2022
No one consumes content as voraciously as football fans. Whether it's following your favourite club's official IG page for the latest signing or devouring the pre-match stats, it's important to have your social media game on lock.
But behind the glossy matchday programmes and sleek edits, there is a team behind-the-scenes working tirelessly to put out those posts. One such unsung hero is 27-year-old Najwan Noor. He is a graphic designer with local football outfit Lion City Sailors FC, the reigning Singapore Premier League champions.
This talented maestro is the creative force behind the gorgeous designs you might have seen on the Sailors' Instagram and Facebook pages. He was also involved in the recent AFF Suzuki Cup during Singapore's run to the semi-finals, where he designed a number of matchday programmes that were sold at the National Stadium.
But Najwan's biggest claim to fame was getting headhunted by Liverpool FC back in December to design a pre-match post as part of their #WalkOn series. Yes, the Liverpool, English football's most decorated club and one of the biggest teams in the world.
Najwan's design for the Liverpool vs Newcastle match was beamed to Reds' 34.7 million followers. It was well-received by LFC fans all over the world. Comments on the post include, "Supreme edit", "Who made this design it’s 🔥" and "I’m not a Liverpool fan but I almost reposted😭".
Talk about publicity. It is well-deserved for one of Singapore's most talented graphic designers. We caught up with Najwan ahead of the Sailors' upcoming season to get his thoughts on that life-changing moment.
Congratulations on getting your work featured on Liverpool's IG page. How did the collaboration come about?
Thank you! I was invited by Dave Will Design to be part of Liverpool’s “Walk On” matchday series, which features a different designer for each matchday. I checked in with the Sailors, and the club gave their blessing for me to have a go at it.
Dave and I know and follow each other through #smsports, a sports design community on Twitter. It’s an active group comprising designers and those keen on design, from across the globe, and it serves as a forum for us to test out designs, get tips on what’s new in the industry - essentially a safe space to experiment, learn and connect with like-minded folks.
What was the brief given by the LFC marketing team with regards to designing the poster and what was your inspiration for the edit?
It was honestly quite an open brief. I had to include the “Walk On” branding and match details but apart from that, there were no creative restrictions.
From the get go, I knew I wanted to do a mandala-style piece. The 3D elements in the mandala were directly inspired by the Shankly gates, which definitely have cultural value to the club and its fans.
What was your immediate reaction when the post went live and how did it feel to know that your design was going to reach the 30 million plus follower on the LFC social media page?
It was a very surreal feeling, to be very honest. I had no idea what time the post would go live so I just kept refreshing Instagram. I eventually saw the post about 15 minutes late, and by then it had already garnered 73k likes. To have your work seen and appreciated by that many people is just wild, and it was a is-this-really-happening? kind of moment for me.
How has the feedback been from fans and family?
The feedback has been immensely positive from everyone. I was overwhelmed by the many messages of support from my friends as well as fellow sports designers. I am delighted that the fans really liked the design as well and ultimately that’s the best thing a designer could ever ask for.
Tell us more about your work with Lion City Sailors. What assets do you usually work on?
I joined the club in late October so everything’s still quite fresh for me. I will be working on anything related to graphic design - even for club merchandise - but I think the work that everyone will see the most will be the match day graphics that are posted on the club’s various social media platforms.
One thing that fans might have already seen was the Matchday Programme for the Sailors’ final game of the 2021 season, when the club secured the league title. That was an enjoyable experience, and I’m looking forward to doing more of the same next season.
LCS's branding and social media game has been excellent thus far. How important is it when it comes to building awareness for the club?
I think it’s massively important for any club to be on top of the social media marketing game. It’s the best way to interact and engage with fans. The club has been doing an excellent job with it even prior to me joining, and I think you can see the results with the improved fan attendance towards the end of the season.
I know you personally, of course, from your time doing photography for Singapore's pro wrestling scene. How has that experience helped you in your current career? What's the biggest similarities and differences shooting and designing for pro wrestling and football?
The last few years spent in the pro wrestling scene in Singapore has been very important in improving my skills as a designer and photographer. I don’t personally feel there’s too much of a difference when it comes to designing between the two sports.
When it comes to shooting however, I feel that football is more unpredictable. You can sort of predict the move sequence when you’re shooting pro wrestling, especially if you’re a big fan (which I am), but you can’t do that with football, so you’ll just have to stay on your toes and be quick to react to happenings as they unfold It takes a bit of getting used to, but I’m learning as I go along.
How was your NS experience and did it influence you in your design journey in any way?
I was in Media Resource back in my time in SAF MP Command, so I was lucky enough to be able to continue working on graphic design and photography during my time in service. I think not being able to design for that time would have been detrimental to my progress, and I’m grateful for that opportunity - to be able to serve our country, while still pursuing my passion.
What do you hope to achieve going forward in your design career and what advice would you give other budding designers?
I would definitely love to be able to design for more Premier League or European clubs, or even some big pro wrestling promotions. I think the biggest goal for myself now is to set the standard for visuals in Asian football.
My advice to budding designers is to just keep on working and posting your work. Earlier this year, I started out a project to make one design per day. I think that definitely helped my skills to progress in a short period of time and that also got a lot of eyeballs on my work.