David Shrigley helps Partick secure US sponsor deal
Now David Shrigley’s handiwork is to feature on the shirts of his adopted footballing heroes - after he helped the Glasgow club secure a lucrative sponsorship deal with an American investment firm.
And after the two parties agreed a six-figure deal, Shrigley agreed to help design not only a special logo, but a bright yellow thistle-shaped mascot, Kingsley, whose unveiling went suddenly viral on social media.
The 46-year-old Glasgow School of Art graduate struck up a rapport with Mike Wilkins, co-founder of California-based Kingsford Capital Management after regaling him with stories about favourites when they met at a dinner in San Francisco.
Wilkins - already a shareholder in the American football team Pittsburgh Steelers and basketball side Golden State Warriors - was so taken with the travails of the side that he personally rang the club, who are also known as the “Maryhill Magyars.”
The businessman comes from a strong artistic background, having been an artist, author and screenwriter, with his previous films including The Independent, with Ben Stiller, and an Oscar-nominated short Birch Street Gym.
He is also on the board of commissioners of one of America’s leading museums, the Smithsonian, in Washington.
Wilkins, whose company has agreed a two-year deal with Thistle, said: “I had been looking for an opportunity to get involved with something like this in the UK for a while but hadn’t been able to find the right match.
“When I got talking to David Shrigley about Partick Thistle it seemed like it could be the perfect fit. The next step for me was to speak directly to the club.
“I must say that every conversation I had with, from start to finish, went really well and certainly built the impression that this was an organisation I very much wanted to be involved with.”
Macclesfield-born Shrigley previously revealed that he decided to pursue art as a career when he realised he could not be a footballer or astronaut, and has described the sport as “one of the big loves in my life.”
The Glasgow-based artist, who once directed a Blur video, said: “As a Jags man it’s an honour to be involved with the club in this way. I can’t wait to see my design on the front of the shirts and around Firhill and just hope the fans like what we’re trying to do.
“It’s safe to say we have a few surprises in store for the supporters. We’re already in talks with a few other artists to arrange some pretty exciting giveaways during the season.”
Ian Maxwell, Thistle’s managing director, said: “Partick Thistle is much more than just a football club and I certainly hope that this partnership too will turn into much more than just a sponsorship deal in the weeks, months and years to come.”
The unveiling of the new mascot prompted a deluge of responses on Twitter, with many drawing comparisons between Lisa from The Simpsons and Kingsley.
“Lisa Simpson has really let herself go” was one opinion, while another use described Kingsley as looking “like an evil Pokemon type thing.”
Some Partick fans joked about needing therapy while others desperately hoped it was some sort of hoax or delayed April Fool.
Hibernian got in on the joke by tweeting an image of their mascot - Sunshine the Leith Lynx - “facepalming” while looking at a picture of Kingsley at a computer.
However pop singer Amy Macdonald told her Twitter followers: “I love Thistle for this. Forget the haters! Rock on Kingsley!”
Best-selling author Irvine Welsh said: “Partick Thistle’s new mascot is Lisa Simpson on crystal meth and it’s ****ing brilliant.”
Shrigley later told his Twitter followers: “Just give him a chance. You’ll get used to him.”
And in a final twist, Kingsley issued a statement appealing to fellow mascots to give him a chance.
Kingsley said: “I was out in Glasgow today and gave out loads of hugs so I’m sure none of the Junior Jags will be too scared at the start of the season.
“I’m just new to this game, but hopefully all the other mascots will realise it isn’t what’s on the outside that counts and that we can all be friends.
“When it comes to passion I certainly won’t be leaving anything in the dressing room and look forward to getting all the Thistle fans up for every at Firhill.”