S. Preston was having lunch in Justin Morneau’s hometown in British Columbia when he spoke his heresy. “Being Canadian, I grew up a hockey fan,” Preston said from New Westminster, B.C. “But I’ve changed. Now I turn off hockey to watch baseball.”
He was drawn to the sport because of its celebration of tiny details, of how barely-noticed minutiae often have big-picture consequences.
That’s an appreciation that informs his art, too. Preston, a 40-year-old graphics and web designer who now lives in Southern California, is a minimalist, focusing on details to express larger concepts. This summer, he combined his interests by creating a set of minimalist artwork depicting all 30 major league stadiums.
“I’ve always been drawn to that style, and ballparks seem to represent something iconic and important to baseball fans,” Preston said. “The artistic style, it’s like a visual puzzle. Those who get it, get it. And if you don’t, you’re not part of the club. People really seem to enjoy that.”
They’ve enjoyed his attempts to sum up each park with a simple iconic image, too. Preston said he received a steady stream of feedback and suggestions as each park was created, so much so that he created alternate versions for a couple of parks. One major league player even bought posters depicting the six parks he had played in, explaining that he wanted to hang images representing his career, but needed something unique enough that his wife wouldn’t object.
The project was a challenge, Preston said, because he’s only actually visited the West Coast parks, and some parks don’t lend themselves easily to one easily identifiable image. Fenway Park’s Green Monster was obvious, as was Yankee Stadium’s upper-deck facade. But how, for instance, do you depict the bland Coliseum in Oakland, or nondescript Tropicana Field? The small incline known as Tal’s Hill in Minute Maid Park was a particular favorite, Preston said, a good example of an image that not everyone will understand.
Preston considered several images for Target Field, from the canopy to the fire pit to the right-field granite overhang, but ultimately settled upon the handshake between Minny and Paul on the center field sign.
“I’m really proud of that one,” Preston said. “I worked hard on creating the neon effect, the signage effect, so you can see the handshake. I think it’s what you think of first when you consider Target Field.”
The artist is marketing prints of his art in various sizes, and plans a postcard-size set of all 30 ballparks. A website is in the works for the collection, but all can be seen at his blog, pootpoot1999.com/blog.
“It’s amazing how attached people are to ballparks,” Preston said. “Some people like the parks more than the games.”