Not many illustrators see their work feature in the unveiling of their football clubs latest signing. But when you're work is as well known and loved, as Stan Chow's work is, nothing would surprise you.

We caught up with the Manchester based illustrator to hear more about the love for his craft, his admiration for Jonas Bergstrand and why he thinks adidas need to take a look at some of Admiral's designs...


CK: What's your earliest memory of football?

SC: My clearest memory was the FA Cup final in 1979. United v Arsenal… we lost. I also have vague memories of 77 final too. My Dad was a United fan. He’d always bang on about Stiles, Charlton, Best, Law etc.. so, I was essentially a United fan from birth.

My first live game was United v Norwich in 1983. We won 3 - 0… I just managed to see the Muhren penalty. Completely missed the 2 Robson goals… but I still remember the eruption of the crowd, when the goals went in. I didn’t really know what was actually happening though, as I didn’t know how to properly celebrate a goal at that age or really understand the game. I was more fascinated by the match program.

CK: Tell us a bit about yourself and style of work?

SC: Born and now live in Manchester. 49 years, married, 2 daughters. 2 cats. Artist, designer and but I’m probably best known for being an illustrator. For people who haven’t seen my stuff, I predominantly illustrate people’s portraits in an almost caricatured style. I try not to over-exaggerate peoples features or expressions, but try and flatter.



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My portraits are done in a very simple, almost geometric way - I tend to take more out, than I leave in. I guess my USP is capturing my subjects when they are in a still mood - Think The Mona Lisa with her calmness and enigmatic smile, but also very much influenced by Panini Football Stickers from the 80s. I do other stuff too, but yeah.. it’s portraits where I’ve made a name for myself.

CK: What's your earliest memory of drawing

SC: I grew up in a Chip Shop… so I had all the chip paper in the world to draw on. My Dad would draw a fish, and I would just try and copy it… My parents would use to say that I could hold a pen properly and draw before I could walk.

CK: Can you tell us what you've been working on recently?

SC: Most recently I’ve been mainly working for Man United (dream client). They’ve asked me to illustrate portraits of the new signings this summer. The portraits have then appeared in the background of the player announcements videos and photo shoots. It’s great, as I get to find out who United have signed a good few days before anyone else does. Smug me… There’s also other fun stuff and not so fun stuff, but I have to keep them under my hat for now.



CK: You're a big United fan – do you have a favourite shirt(s) of theirs?

SC: The adidas 84-85 kit with the crest in the middle… I definitely think it was the memory of United winning the FA Cup in 85 with that kit on is the reason it’s my favourite kit. I think it was the first time I witnessed a game where I really understood the importance of your team winning something.

Over the years there have been loads of kits that I’ve really liked… big fan of the first adidas shirt from 1980. It was also the first shirt my Mum got me. There’s also the Nike shirt from 2009 with the black chevron… I loved the retro-ness of it.

Unfortunately we weren’t great that season, so I don’t think it was an overly popular kit. If United had won something that season, it would have been regarded as a classic IMO or at least more loved. I’d like to give the Admiral away kit from the late 70s an honourable mention too… the one with 3 stripes (sometimes 4) running the left hand side of shirt, which I’ve had a couple of replica versions.

CK: You appear to be working with MUFC a lot at the moment – is there anything coming up that you can tell us about?

SC: The kid in me still can’t quite believe that I’ve been working with United. It was great fun modelling the new kits… I guess it was quite a bold decision to get a middle-aged Chinese bloke with a penchant for flat caps to model the new season’s kit!!!



It’s also been great illustrating the portraits of the new signings… All I can say is, if United sign anymore more players before the transfer window closes, then I’ll have something to do for them. Not gonna lie, but I would love it if they gave me a job with a degree of permanence, but I can’t complain with the things I’ve done for them already.

CK: Is their a character's likeness you've really struggled with before?

SC: In the past.. I found really attractive people quite hard. When illustrating someone objectively beautiful, you also want to be able capture their beauty in the illustration too. If I don’t capture that beauty, the I think I’ve failed.




Their beauty is part of the likeness and it needs to be brought into the illustration. Chris Rock has been a portrait that always springs to mind when asked if I struggled with a likeness… anyway it took me days to nail it, when usually I like to nail the likeness in a few hours. I think it’s because his face always quite expressive is the reason I struggled with him.

Also I have to admit, I found Mason Mount quite tricky to do, more recently.

CK: Who have you enjoyed illustrating the most in your career?

SC: Mr Miyagi.

CK: If you could design the next MUFC kit, (home, away or third) what kit would you take inspiration from the most?

SC: I definitely take inspiration from the Admiral away kit from the 70s. I feel it’s a design style/template that’s been sorely under used… I can’t believe Adidas haven’t done it yet, especially with the 3 stripes running down front… it seems an obvious opportunity missed. PSG went there with their away in 2020 and Lyon’s kit this season.. The Lyon Kit is probably my fave shirt this season.




CK: What other designers/artists do you admire?

SC: There’s really too many to mention… if I was going to pick one person, it’s a Swedish artist, designer, illustrator called Jonas Bergstrand. Whether he sees it as a compliment or not, but he really is the Zlatan Ibrahimovich of Illustration. He has everything in his locker.

For nearly 30 years since I first saw his work, he’s consistently been and still producing artwork that’s on another level. In footballing terms if you compared him to me, he’s Balon d’or level… I’d just be happy to get a game. Jonas actually has work in the FIFA Museum in Zurich… I think that is the illustration equivalent of winning the Balon D’Or… I’ve probably overachieved, as I do have some work in the National Football Museum in Manchester (tucked away in a dark corner). 




CK: What do you think MUFC's chances are this year?

SC:  Despite the start we’ve had so far and all the off-field shenanigans, I’m always optimistic.. I’d take a piece of silverware and 3 or 4th place again… However, it is disappointing that the level of expectation has lowered post-Fergie, many would see not winning the title as failure, I remember when I was at school and my best mate would always ask me at the start of the school-term /new football season how do think we’ll do, I’d always say we’ll win everything… and eventually we did.

But right now, if we win the league or Champions League just one more time before I cark it, I’ll take it. I’ve seen us win the title 13 times now and countless other trophies… if you told me we’d win that much when I started properly supporting Man Utd, I’d have bitten your arm off!… (because we weren’t winning anything back then!)

CK: Where can people see more of your work?

SC: The easiest place to see my work is my instagram @stan_chow. I also have another account dedicated to all things football related (not necessarily all art) which is @stanleychowfc.

In the wild I’ve work dotted all around Manchester, but the biggest collection of my work can found in Hotel Football, right next to Man Utd’s ground. My mates have started calling it The Stan Chow Museum.

I’m also the regular cover illustrator of United We Stand fanzine, which is a great honour. Also, if you want to buy any pictures, you can always go to my online shop at .


Credits: Ryan Mole / Corriere Della Sera magazine

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