Minimalist Ballparks by Vancouver’s S. Preston Designs

Comments 34 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Less is more, especially when it comes to stripping away thousands of square feet from an iconic stadium and creating a memory-triggering graphic that has caught the attention of thousands of fans — and Major League Baseball. S. Preston Art + Designs has created a wildly popular Minimalist Ballpark graphic series that went viral online and can now be seen hanging on the walls of Target Field in Minneapolis, among others.

I caught up with my longtime friend Preston shortly after he moved back to Vancouver from Los Angeles, where he had been working for the last two years, to talk about the success of the ballpark series.

“I’ve been graphic designing for so many years for corporate clients and I love sports. Finally I merged the two together and it’s come out into something that everyone sort of loves right now.” Preston said once the designs for all 30 stadiums were complete last year, he put them online and found that they went viral really quickly. The first major outlet to pick them up was USA Today, followed by Sports Illustrated, ESPN and then Deadspin, which he credits as being the tipping point.

20140429BCK_Minimalist_Ballparks_00010_NIKON D4
Preston at Target Field in Minneapolis

“It just blew up from there. Christmas was great, I was in a couple of gift guides and then the next big call was probably Target Field calling to say they wanted my whole display put up in the concourse of the stadium.” While preparing the artwork, frames, files, and everything else needed to install his collection on the walls of one of his featured ballparks he got a call from Major League Baseball. “They said they wanted to bring me under their license and that they thought it would go over really well with baseball fans.”

It was at that point that Preston realized the quality of what he had produced, and it became bigger than he had ever dreamed.

“You get really worried, especially as an artist you can get really negative and apprehensive about your own stuff. You’re not sure if people will like it but it turned out to be a massive success.” He was soon invited to set up a booth at the MLB All Star game this year, which was also happening in Minneapolis.

“I finally kind of have an idea of what I have now. I do have art and I have something that people immediately connect to. It’s sublime and subtle. It really just hits home.”

“People who saw the display in Target Field were able to come to me at the All Star game, see the artist, meet the artist, and buy their print from me and get it signed. That was the coolest thing. The stars aligned.”

During the All Star FanFest he met fans of all ages who appreciated the way that his artwork made them feel. He even had a fan come up to him and admit that he missed the first three inning of the game looking at his art in the concourse.

Preston also met a teenage girl who had just completed a stadium pilgrimage, visiting 30 stadiums in the last 30 days. “They’re buying one of each, one for every stadium that they go to and they just ask me to sign the date they visited.”

Right now his designs are the very first stop on the tours given at Target Field and he’s also had a math teacher tell him he uses his work as a teaching tool with his students, based on its minimalist expression. He said it connects to people on many levels. First as a guessing game, then on a personal level, but also as living room-worthy art.

[Editor's Note: I have to admit that I was never a fan of baseball until John and I watched all 10 innings of Ken Burns' Baseball documentary through the course of a rainy summer in Vancouver. It wasn't the actual sport that I came to appreciate, it was the history, which is one of the reasons why the Vancouver Canadians are so endearing.

Watching the documentary, memories flooded back as I remembered playing ball in a dirt field in Fort Langley and I recalled all of my favourite baseball movies, the ones that really made me feel something. I then read BC author W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe because I wanted to connect to the story upon which the film Field of Dreams was based. In recent years I also played catch with John at the Field of Dreams movie site in Iowa, near where he grew up. Then, Preston's minimalist version of Fenway Park, with the Citgo sign peeking over the Green Monster, made me think of the year I spent in Boston.]

Preston told me that the idea for the series actually started with Boston. “I always has this vision of the Citgo sign and the Green Monster. That one to me is truly minimalist. It’s truly abstract and minimalist, and it hits that mark. If you get it, you get it. If you’re not a fan you don’t understand.”

The hardest for him to complete was Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. as the trigger image really has nothing to do with the stadium itself. “I went on Twitter and people said the president races are such a memorable part of the stadium experience so I decided I would do that.”

Going forward, he will continue to develop other minimalist graphic series and I’m not-so-secretly hoping a new header will make its way onto his “To Do” list. He actually designed the current version of this fair website’s main banner a few years ago and was the first to make a digital, minimalist version of the new BC Place when it reopened in 2011.

S. Preston Art + Designs is currently offering a limited edition gallery wrap print canvas print for $395 (size 16×24) and a larger one for $800 (20×28). To make sure the art is accessible to all fans, there are 81/2x11 prints for $35 and 13×19 prints for $60. “I want to make sure that fans can buy it but also that collectors out there have something art worthy, unique, and special. I’m trying to feed both markets.”

Win a Print

Preston has offered up a 13×19 print for one lucky reader who will be able to select any ballpark they desire. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment here about what else, baseball! (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win a #MinimalistBallpark print from @PootPoot + @Miss604

I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Friday, August 22, 2014. Follow S. Preston Designs on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for the latest print updates.

Update The winner is Mandeep!

Current Contests on Miss604
*All contests are open to residents of Canada only, unless otherwise stated. Contest timelines are published on each individual post along with entry methods. Some contests may only be open to those 19 years of age and older. Winners are announced on the contest blog posts. Contest policy »

34 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. JeffWednesday, August 13th, 2014 — 8:46pm PDT

    Go Mariners!

  2. Arielle PattersonThursday, August 14th, 2014 — 10:33am PDT

    I still play baseball (well fastpitch softball) to this day and still get goosebumps when stepping onto a manicured ball field on a sunny spring day. Baseball gets inside you. It’s amazing.

  3. HannahThursday, August 14th, 2014 — 11:37am PDT

    Love watching in the sun with some friends!

  4. BryanFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 12:50am PDT

    RT to enter to win a #MinimalistBallpark print from @PootPoot + @Miss604

  5. JamesFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 12:51am PDT

    Love chilling in the stands!

  6. AlexFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 8:49am PDT

    Would like this in my son’s room. He loves baseball!

  7. Mike RobertsonFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 10:01am PDT

    Preston hit for the cycle with these! Great illustrations

  8. Bryan MapesFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 10:23am PDT

    I love these so much. A Turner Field one for my new apartment after having the two smaller ones would look fantastic.

  9. Travis BalkeFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 10:51am PDT

    Go Cards!

  10. AmandaFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 10:53am PDT

    My two favourite things, great design and baseball! These prints are a great idea congrats to Preston! Moving from Toronto to Vancouver, I definitely miss living so close to the Skydome, but love my trips to Safeco field!

  11. WesleyFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 10:54am PDT

    Love the Angels Stadium and Petco Park prints!

  12. HeatherFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 12:11pm PDT

    I first found the Minimalist Ballparks on Redbubble and loved them from the moment I saw them. I love minimalist design almost as much as I love baseball. Congrats on all the success with the artwork!

  13. janFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 2:38pm PDT

    I haven’t played in some years

  14. AmmoFriday, August 15th, 2014 — 3:35pm PDT

    wrigley field looks pretty sweet

  15. Melinda LeeSunday, August 17th, 2014 — 9:14am PDT

    Would love to have a print by Preston. Beautiful colours on the artwork.

  16. Chris (@lyteforce)Sunday, August 17th, 2014 — 4:51pm PDT

    Wouldn’t a minimalist Nat Bailey be cool?

  17. michael hSunday, August 17th, 2014 — 6:12pm PDT

    i always cheer for Wasabi at Candians games

  18. KarlieSunday, August 17th, 2014 — 6:28pm PDT

    Any day at a ballpark is a good day 🙂 love baseball!

  19. Lorena GrandeSunday, August 17th, 2014 — 9:31pm PDT

    Love the simple lines….far more appealing even in artwork. Kudos on taking this on in ballfields. Would be honoured to be gifted one of these.

  20. RobMonday, August 18th, 2014 — 11:24am PDT

    All of thee are just great! Love the St Louis one.

  21. Kim PikeMonday, August 18th, 2014 — 12:12pm PDT

    I still love Safeco Field because that’s the only major league park I’ve been to:)

  22. DebbieMonday, August 18th, 2014 — 1:17pm PDT

    The designs are amazing. I always admired Preston’s work, but he hit it out of the park, so to speak, with this series!

  23. VinceMonday, August 18th, 2014 — 4:21pm PDT

    Our favoutire cousins vs cousins game in the summer!

  24. Sunshine HMonday, August 18th, 2014 — 6:05pm PDT

    I really like the ‘nuances’ of baseball, or perhaps I should say, all the ‘exceptions to the rules’. I remember watching a LOT of games when the Jays won the World Series, and have enjoyed a number of games at Nat Bailey too.

  25. Johnf385Tuesday, August 19th, 2014 — 4:05am PDT

    Farmville farms even include free gift that is especially eeaakkgfaded

  26. Sandra TTuesday, August 19th, 2014 — 9:32am PDT

    Recently watched a game at Wrigley Field and had so much fun!

  27. SomiTuesday, August 19th, 2014 — 12:00pm PDT

    I can’t stop staring at them. So interesting.

  28. MandeepTuesday, August 19th, 2014 — 9:33pm PDT

    Amazing work!!! Can’t decide which one is my favorite!

  29. GraceWednesday, August 20th, 2014 — 12:25am PDT

    Never thought baseball could be turned into art like this… awesome.

  30. LaurieMWednesday, August 20th, 2014 — 3:38pm PDT

    Ever an A’s fan; beautiful park!

  31. TammyThursday, August 21st, 2014 — 4:00pm PDT

    art and baseball- love it!

  32. EileenThursday, August 21st, 2014 — 9:13pm PDT

    Going to my first baseball game next week!

  33. emjayFriday, August 22nd, 2014 — 9:39am PDT

    Your prints are incredible!

  34. Teresa KFriday, August 22nd, 2014 — 10:55am PDT

    I’d love to win.

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