Tyson Chandler: NBA and Zine Star, Sunday Painter?



“We made the Tyson Chandler zine after we watched the NBA finals…  he was the handsomest, coolest guy in the series, just a modest and positive guy,” explains artist Ari Marcopoulos, referring to a work produced with friend and artist Camilla Venturini. The small photocopied zine is filled with photos pulled from Google image search, candid shots, press photos, and action shots of the seven-foot-one NBA basketball player, Tyson Chandler. The small zine is a bit of an anomaly in Marcopoulos’ catalog of books, which are usually collections of his own snapshots taken from daily shooting.

During a visit to New York last week, Chandler, got word of the zine, which was on display at Printed Matter, Inc., during a gallery walk in Chelsea. We sat down for a brief interview with Chandler to talk about the experience.

ADAM O’REILLY: What was your reaction when you first saw Ari and Camilla’s zine about you for the first time?

TYSON CHANDLER: I was thrown back a little bit; I have seen articles by sports writers, and seen things made by fans, but nothing ever done artistically like that about me.

O’REILLY: Is it what you expected when you heard there was a zine made about you?

CHANDLER: I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I had never seen a zine before, I didn’t know if it was a magazine or some kind of collage.

O’REILLY: And you spoke with Marcopoulos shortly after seeing it, what was that like?

CHANDLER: That was awesome; he seems like a total photography rock star. When I took the call he was in Italy, but he told me that if he were in town he would have hopped on his bike and rode over. It totally made me want to grab a bite with him sometime.

O’REILLY: Do you receive a lot fan mail?

CHANDLER: I do! I try and go through and respond to all the people who write, but I have never got anything in the mail like this before, especially from a photographer of his stature.

O’REILLY: Any experience with obsessive fans?

CHANDLER: Why yes, I have. [laughs] I have had my fair share of run-ins and awkward moments.

O’REILLY: Such as?

CHANDLER: When I was in Chicago [Chandler played for the Bulls 2001–06], I actually had a stalker. I was in my house playing video games, and you know when you get that weird eerie feeling you get when somebody is watching you, I had that. So I went over to the window to look out because it was pitch black, and when I looked out there was someone’s hands on the window and there was a person looking back at me. I had to call the police.

O’REILLY: Have you ever collected photos or made collages of people you admire?

CHANDLER: Oh definitely, lots of basketball players when I was growing up, I collected a lot of photos of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and when I got to high school, Kevin Garnett. But actually, I used to draw, I would always be drawing my family members and I really idolized my grandfather, I would draw him a lot.

O’REILLY: I read that you paint when you aren’t on the court?

CHANDLER: Yah, I paint in my spare time, just to relax myself and wind down a bit.

O’REILLY: What do your paintings look like?

CHANDLER: I used to just paint my family, my daughter, my wife, but now I am into painting old records covers, Bob Marley, Ray Charles. I want to surprise my agent with an Elvis painting.

O’REILLY: How else have you been spending your downtime with the NBA season not starting on time this year?

CHANDLER: I have been doing some horseback riding, that’s about it—and training, obviously.

O’REILLY: Has it been frustrating not being able to play?

CHANDLER: It has definitely been frustrating. You get so used to playing your entire life, and used to playing this time of year, so it’s definitely awkward and very different for me.

O’REILLER: One last question: what really drives you to play every game?

CHANDLER: I play knowing that there is somebody watching me out there in the crowd that has never had the opportunity to watch a game before and it might be the only chance they ever to see one, live in person. Michael Jordan once said that in an interview, and I really took it to heart, when ever I step on the floor I play for that person. Also, I always know my grandfather’s out there watching.