Jamie Cooper has shown a passion for art ever since he could hold a pencil. As a boy he was fascinated by the human form as well as being passionate about all sports. When he was not actively involved, he was sketching the extraordinary visual compositions produced by the athlete in motion.
In 1984, he realized a childhood dream by reaching the pinnacle of Australian professional sport. He made his senior AFL (Australian Football League) debut with the Fitzroy football club, where he played 4 seasons, before retiring to develop his creative talents. During this time Jamie also worked on his other passion art, completing a certificate of Finished Art and working as a freelance illustrator.
After moving on from professional sports, he left Australia and worked as a commercial artist in London, painted public murals in Greece and was employed as a political caricature artist for a Danish national newspaper in Copenhagen. After his return to Melbourne in 1991, he produced commissioned portraits and sculptures, as well as hosting two solo exhibitions, with work inspired by his world travels.
Jamie’s career as a professional sports artist began in 1998 when his distinctive oil paintings had their first release under the AFL memorabilia license. Since then, Jamie has become the creative force behind the highly successful AFL ”Team of the Century” paintings, producing major historical works for most of the AFL Clubs. The Team of the Century canvases have been highly prized as the definitive image of the respective clubs’ proud histories and traditions. Prices have ranged between AUD$27,000 and AUD$71,000 at auction.
By the early 2000’s, Cooper’s reputation as the countries premier sports artist was well entrenched and the value of his work began to soar. Prices at auction for his life size portraits of contemporary AFL champions made headlines. Anthony Koutafides $55,000, Matthew Richardson $55,000, James Hird $61,000 and Robert Harvey $67,000 were a testament to his coming of age in this field.
In 2002 his scope was broadened when his skills in story telling on canvas were recognised by the multi-national company, Caterpillar Inc. Caterpillar has, to date, commissioned 3 paintings and limited edition print runs depicting the history of the company. One original hangs at Caterpillar HQ in Peoria, Illinois. The Australian Olympic Committee commissioned a piece to celebrate the anniversary of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.
In 2005, QLD State of Origin commissioned a painting of its greatest team of the past 25 years. Funds raised from the sale of the commissioned painting and the associated limited edition print run are well on the way to raising $500,000 for children’s cancer research.
In 2005, Jamie was commissioned by international fund raising organization, Variety, the Children’s Charity to produce a gigantic 6-metre tribute to Australia’s 100 greatest entertainers from the past century. This took 12 months to conceive and complete, bringing legends from stage and screen back to life for one magical curtain call.
The commissions kept coming and his reputation for being able to handle the most complex and sizable concepts led to his biggest task to date.
In 2008, the AFL celebrated its 150th year as Australia’s greatest game. The job fell to Jamie to capture that rich and intricate history in one enormous 5 x 2.5 metre image. This pictorial novel contains over 300 figures and took another year of Jamie’s life.
Two 50 x 25 metre reproductions were made and displayed on the ground at the MCG stadium on AFL Grand Final day 2008, opening the pre match entertainment and beamed live around the world to millions of viewers. You can see the unveiling below.
In 2009, Jamie has made a grand entrance into the US art scene with the completion of a 4 x 1.5 metre oil painting, “Phillies Dream Scene” depicting twenty-six legends from the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team.
It brings to life Phillies greats from throughout the Club’s 125-year history, mingling in the present day clubhouse in one magical moment in time. The mural is now displayed in the entrance to the exclusive Diamond Club at the home of the Phillies, Citizens Bank Park.
On the back of the success of the Phillies painting, Jamie currently has a similar proposal in front of several Major League Baseball clubs as well as Manchester United in the UK, the world’s largest football club.
Jamie believes that his experience as a professional athlete has given him a unique perspective as a sports artist. “During my days as a player I was exposed to many fantastic moments and images, seen through the eyes of both an athlete and an artist. Now I can use those experiences to highlight the history, emotion and passion of sporting culture, in oils.”
Jamie’s unique combination of artist and elite athlete has been the feature of several TV, radio and print editorials over the years and has now gained international recognition. This makes for a well-rounded talent who can articulate his work’s ideas and themes to a broad audience.