Forward Madison FC free poster series returns for the 2022 season

Local soccer team and Dane Arts team up again to create game day posters made by local artists
14 different colorful Forward Madison FC posters back
Courtesy of Dane Arts
Dane Arts began collaborating with Forward Madison FC during their 2019 season on posters created by local artists.

Forward Madison FC and Dane Arts have teamed up again on another free poster series for Forward Madison FC’s 2022 season. At every home match, Flamingo fans are invited to pick up a free poster created by a local artist at the guest services tent. The series has run during all operating seasons since the club’s founding in 2019.  

The idea for the initiative was born after Director of Dane Arts Mark Fraire read a piece in The New York Times about the Portland Trailblazers efforts to boost sales through game day posters created by local artists. Always looking for ways to “integrate the arts into every arena,” Fraire quickly became interested in bringing something similar to Madison. He first approached the Madison Mallards, the local summer collegiate baseball team, but both parties realized the scheduling might not work due to a busy and fast baseball season. Fraire was then encouraged to approach Forward Madison FC, which was preparing for its first season.  

“I was very excited to help them build a presence but wasn’t expecting to hear a ‘yes,’” says Fraire. But Forward Madison FC embraced the idea. It also supported the mission of Dane Arts, which is the Dane County Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission, “to support the arts history and culture of Dane County,” Fraire says.  

That first year, trust was established and Fraire and people from Forward Madison FC attended festivals and spread the word about the collaboration. It was “wildy successful” and the “response was enormous,” he says.  

Evan Warwick, the current director of digital content at Forward Madison FC, joined the team in 2021 and has worked with Fraire and Dane Arts on this seasons series.  Warwick says that it is one of his favorite initiatives that the club participates in.  

“The beauty of Dane Arts and working with Mark is that they are so in touch with the arts community in Dane County as a whole,” Warwick says. 

Both Warwick and Fraire emphasize that Dane County is a “robust arts community” that includes Madison but also extends outside of it. Artists who are included in this series tend to have a passion for the team, or just for Dane County in general.  

“Soccer in terms of a sport has so many cultural touch points, in terms of being a global, revered, historic sport,” Warwick says.“We’re able to bring in artists that understand the magnitude of soccer in general and reflect that in their art.”  

As Forward Madison FC begins its fourth season, Warwick adds that the brand is “more universally known and growing,” which is also reflected in some of the poster designs the artists create.

Fraire has enjoyed watching the series evolve over time and still personally chooses the artists for the season. Through Dane Arts, he has a list of many artists to choose from and often does his research beforehand to make sure they’re a good fit. He works closely with Warwick game-by-game to establish deadlines and get the artist the correct information.  

The series has showcased work from local artists that have a variety of different styles and backgrounds. “Each artist takes it on such a different route than the last one, we never know what’s going to happen and we trust these artists expertise,” Warwick says.  

Fraire shares that the first year, the focus was on the team image. But, over time, artists have gotten more creative and have even found ways to represent their own community’s interpretation of the sport.  

At a match, Forward Madison FC usually print around 300 posters that are available when doors open. Warwick says that fans often get there early and beeline to the tent in order to score a poster.

“People have this whole series framed, some of our supporters have their entire walls decorated with match posters,” Warwick says.  

 

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Forward Madison FC sees the success of this series as a reminder that arts and sports are closely intertwined and there is a “duty to keep doing that.” The club has plans to continue working with Dane Arts to amplify the voices and work of local artists.  

At the “Paint the Mountains Night” on July 30th, local artists will showcase their work, including the lineup of those who worked on the poster series. “It’s going to be an all-encompassing celebration of arts in Dane County right at a Forward Madison FC match,” Warwick says.   

The poster series is “just another one of our initiatives that tries to tie in different communities throughout Dane County and make everyone as welcome as possible,” Warwick says. One of the goals of both the series and the club is to “reconnect and reinvigorate the community” following the pandemic.  

Both Forward Madison FC and Dane Arts are excited to share the posters for this season and Warwick adds that some of the posters this year are “far beyond our wildest dreams.”  Footer that says Subscribe with covers of Madison Magazine