The Art of Sport – Jonas Never And Brandon Ingram Collaborate

The final product of Jonas' and Brandon's collaboration
The final product of Jonas’ and Brandon’s collaboration

Photo Credit: John Sciulli / Getty Images

Fans know that sports is an art form, and can be a sport, but this concept and the relationship between the two mediums, was explored further in a very L.A. way when the Lakers’ rising star Brandon Ingram—the number two overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft—and Culver City-based street artist Jonas Never came together in March. Their collaboration, a one-of-a-kind billboard, will live on the historic Venice boardwalk before being donated to a local non-profit. The partnership was dreamed up by Delta as part of the airline’s “Beyond the Court” program and celebrates the passion of Lakers players on and off the court. It also brings together local celebrities sharing a common interest, such as Ingram and Never, who sat down with Haute Living to chat about the creative process, the L.A. art scene and the importance of chasing your dreams.

Earlier this month, you came together to create a sports mural. Why, in playing to your respective strength, are the two mediums more alike than some might assume?

JN: As an artist, I try my best to represent both what I’m painting and where I’m painting it. As an athlete, Brandon has been shaped by where he’s come from and is working really hard to make the city he’s playing for proud. Now that both of us are doing our work—work that we enjoy—in the public eye, we have to continue to push ourselves to get better and better.

BI: Sports and art go hand in hand. Both take time for you to get great at it. In some cases, you can be born a natural… but, mostly, you have to learn and practice to really get better.

What was your inspiration for the art piece? What does the mural mean to you?

JN: For this piece, I was inspired by the city of Los Angeles, Lakers basketball, the Delta Air Lines’ “Dream Up, L.A.” mantra and, most importantly, Brandon and his personal style.

BI: It tells a lot about what I went through as a young kid coming up to get to this level. I think the main message from this is to never stop dreaming, and to dream up. It’s a big part of what Jonas and I put together. We just wanted to inspire young kids who go by and see the mural.

Brandon, had you ever painted before? If not, what was the process like?  

BI: I had actually never painted before, but the process was fun. I did better than I thought I would do, and Jonas definitely helped me out and taught me some of the things he’s learned. Painting is something I think I’ll get more into.

Jonas, were you surprised by Brandon’s skills off the court?

JN: Absolutely. He’s incredibly creative and his ideas and positivity made coming up with the design a really fun process.

Jonas Never and Brandon Ingram sign their art work
Jonas Never and Brandon Ingram sign their art work

Photo Credit: John Sciulli / Getty Images

Had you met before you started painting? 

JN: We first met at my studio to discuss ideas and poses for the mural. I wanted to pick an image that fit the shape of the wall well, but [that] also looked the way he wanted it to. I also got to know him better as a person and that pushed me to make sure I came through for him and everyone involved with the project.

The “Beyond the Court” event kicked off a new era of young Lakers stars and helped them to realize their dreams. Why is that important personally for you to be a part of?

JN: I’m personally thrilled to be a part of this new generation of Lakers basketball. I want guys like Brandon and Jordan Clarkson to succeed and make the city of Los Angeles proud, and I love that I got to be a part of [the] first real collaboration between them and their new city.

BI: For me, it is all about opportunity. When you go from high school to college to this league, people look up to you. And the opportunity to speak up and give back and show people things what we do outside of basketball is important. It’s inspiring and shows the youth that they can do whatever we are doing.

How did you each realize your own dreams when you were starting out on your respective paths? 

JN: I always had loved painting; it’s something I’ve done as long as I can remember. When I finally sat back and realized, “Wow I’ve been doing this professionally year after year,” it finally kind of set in that I was a professional artist. I’m really not sure when that dream was realized and, honestly, there’s a lot more I’d love to accomplish as an artist, so I guess I’m still chasing dreams.

Why and how has L.A. become such a hotspot for both sports and art? How does its art scene compare to other cities?

JN: As far back as I can remember, L.A. has always been the Mecca for public art. It’s sunny year-round, so you can paint all the time. Everything is filmed here, so you never know when your work is going to end up on film.

Last but not least, what is your greatest luxury in life?

JN: My greatest luxury in life is having an In-N-Out Burger down the street from my house… or my 1959 Edsel Ranger.