ARTIST SHOWCASE:  JON-PAUL WHEATLEY

ARTIST SHOWCASE: JON-PAUL WHEATLEY

He's designed and made footballs for the likes of adidas, FIFA and the MLS. Now Jon-Paul Wheatley is set to launch his own ball company, 12 Pentagons. Handmade balls beautifully and uniquely constructed materials, each collection limited to a very select number. And we can't wait to see it...

The football. One of life's greatest inventions. All inclusive, welcoming and the ultimate ice breaker. A simple concept that brings absolute joy to millions around the globe. But there's one creative who is challenging the construction of said ball. Creating his very own sculptures through different forms, Jon-Paul Wheatley's work is something to watch out for.

We caught up with Jon-Paul to hear about how it all began and what has influenced his work.

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CK: First things first, who's your team?

JPW: I am a Man United fan

CK: What's your earliest footballing memory?

JPW: Playing with a scuffed up ball in the playground at school. I played in goal. I remember dreaming about kicking a theoretically perfect goal kick and scoring directly from it (never happened). Peter Schmeichel was my idol. He still is, actually.

 

Shop ALL Manchester United football shirts here.

 

CK: So how did all the ball making start?

JPW: I bought myself some leather working tools to keep myself busy during lockdown in March 2020. I flailed around for a while making random things, wallets, pencil cases, stuff like that. One day I decided to have a go at making a ball.



cult kits john-paul wheatley artist showcase


That ball was very bad! It was barely a ball at all. It was the size of a table tennis ball, constructed from 12 terribly stitched pentagons. After I was finished I looked at it and thought “I could probably make a better one if I gave it another go”.

I’ve been in that headspace ever since and now I’m surrounded by balls.

CK: What's the motivation behind the project?

JPW: My motivations have evolved over time from “can I make a ball?” to “can I make a better ball?” to “how crazy can I make a ball?”

 

cult kits john-paul wheatley artist showcase

 

Football is the most popular sport in the world, but the BALL itself is, I think, an under explored medium for design.

My instagram & tiktok accounts have become sort of a public R&D lab. I spend time experimenting with new concepts for balls and documenting the process.

CK: You've worked with some of the biggest brands... do you have a standout project/collaboration?

JPW: FIFA asked me to make a ball to commemorate the 2022 world cup. I was in Qatar for the duration of the tournament working on a special edition 1 of 1 world cup ball. Each country’s flag was incorporated into the design. As countries were knocked out of the tournament their flag was added to the ball (in order), so the design of the ball was effected by the outcome of what happened in the games. This culminated with me finishing the ball on the sidelines of the world cup final. A surreal moment for me which is hard to imagine topping.



cult kits john-paul wheatley artist showcase


Shop ALL International shirts here.

 

CK: What's coming up next for you? Anything interesting you can tell us about?

JPW: I’ve been working on a new ball company which will be launching early next year. The model will work like this:

I will keep designing and sharing ball designs in public. Balls that are popular and resonate will graduate the lab and will become available in limited supply through 12 pentagons (12p.com).

Each ball will be hand stitched (just like they are in the videos), and made with the best Italian leather.



cult kits john-paul wheatley artist showcase



cult kits artist showcase john-paul wheatley



CK: Do you get many private requests?

JPW: Yes and unfortunately I have to say no to all of them. The balls take a long time to make. Usually a week minimum (of just stitching). I have a long list of balls that I’m itching to make in my “ball queue” which I have to prioritize.

CK: Do you have a wishlist of people you'd love to collaborate with at the moment?

JPW: David Beckham: I’ve been playing with a concept for a ball construction based on interlocking number 7’s. I’d love to make a special edition Beckham version with 7’s from throughout his career. England National Team: a ball based on the leaked Euro 24 kit needs to happen, NASA / SpaceX: Perhaps based on a specific rocket (I don’t care which), perhaps we could blast the ball into space for some reason.

 

Shop ALL David Beckham shirts and tees here.

 

CK: Do you have any ambitions for 2024?

JPW: I am focussed on launching my ball company and make some cool balls!

CK: What other creatives/artists do you really admire or inspire you at the moment?

JPW: Check this out. This thing absolutely blew my mind:



Credit:
‘World Cup World Kit’ by Felix Primo Ziegler (@felix.primo.ziegler)



It’s a world cup shirt, constructed from 32 REAL recycled world cup kits. It’s so mental.

CK: Tell us where people can find your work...

JPW: You can follow my work here: @jonpaulsballs on both at tiktok & instagram.

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1 comment

Well done love following how your doing.

Yvonne Jones

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