Forward Play! Eve Warren's initiative celebrates trailblazers of women's football

Designer and art director Eve Warren celebrates creativity through football with Forward Play!, her new initiative that champions women's football by inviting over 30 artists to create extraordinary illustrations of iconic players.

The profile of women's football is on the up. After the Lionesses' triumph at last year's European Cup, the game appears to be attracting more attention and getting more of the spotlight it deserves. As ever, though, there's always room for improvement.

According to the latest Inspiring a Generation report from youth charity Football Beyond Borders, 63% of teenage girls still can't name any of the Lionesses, 25% of teenage girls have never watched a women's football game, and 67% of teenage girls don't follow any women's football players on social media. Clearly, some work needs to be done to help them connect with audiences.

With the FIFA World Cup currently in full swing in Australia and New Zealand, senior designer at LOVE Eve Warren decided that now was the perfect time to address these findings. By partnering with Football Beyond Borders, her initiative Forward Play! will not only combat these statistics but also raise money for the charity that helps young people from socio-economic disadvantage.

To do this, Eve has rallied 33 illustrators to get involved and pitch their interpretations of world-class players. "Each artist was tasked to create a piece of artwork that will be showcased in an exhibition depicting trailblazers of importance in women's football, both past and present," Eve tells Creative Boom. "With this artwork, I created Forward Play!, an exhibition at Colours May Vary that includes broadsheet-size newspaper zines and collectable stickers."

She adds that the contributing artists, including Stan Chow, Meredith Schomburg and Florence Burns, were chosen based on her love of playful graphic art and illustration. "In my day-to-day job, I often commission and art-direct illustrators to work on brand and packaging projects," she says. "Having worked in the industry for nearly ten years, I have built a great network of people who create amazing art and commercial work."

She goes on to say: "With my love for football and sport in general, I follow a lot of people who specialise in depicting that subject matter, and I thought it would be cool to reach out to them. However, other up-and-coming talents in this exhibition have caught my eye based on amazing storytelling and interesting depictions of women."

Kicking off this Thursday with a launch event at Colours May Vary in Leeds, Eve has got her fingers crossed that Forward Play! could develop into something even bigger. "I'm hoping to apply for funding in the future and potentially grow the trailblazer portraits and tour the exhibition in other cities in the UK," she reveals.

"I would love to get involved in bigger not-for-profit projects and potentially collaborate with youth teams and design kits. My dream is also to design or commission a football pitch."

As this suggests, football is a big part of Eve's work and life. In fact, it always has been, ever since she played the sport as a child. "However, like many girls, that stopped when I got to secondary school because it wasn't part of the curriculum, and there weren't any local teams," she says.

"It wasn't until the women's world cup in 2019 that I was inspired to start playing again, and plucked up the courage to get involved in a local team. Not only did this spark my love for football again, but it also gave me a much-needed outlet outside of design, which consumed me sometimes. However, I still found a design project after a few tackles and designed some merch for my team's fundraiser during lockdown.

"Ever since the Lionesses achieved their iconic victory at the Euros last summer, I have been inspired to build on that momentum and use my design skills to help inspire and educate young girls interested in football and create opportunities for creatives in a fastly-growing space."


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