After four decades of leadership in the commercial creative field, Atlanta’s Steven Lester fully embraced his passion for painting and quickly gained notoriety for what he calls “representational expressionism.” Because Lester’s action sports themes resonate with vibrant life and elicit a visceral, emotional response, he has been named the United States Sports Academy’s 2019 Sport Artist of the Year.
Lester will be awarded the honor at the Academy’s Awards of Sport event and reception on Thursday, November 14, 2019 on the Academy campus. The event, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Academy’s 35th Annual Awards of Sport program, a celebration of sport and art and a “Tribute to the Artist and the Athlete.”
As part of the program, Lester will unveil and display an original work that will be added to the permanent collection at the Academy’s American Sport Art Museum & Archives (ASAMA).
The Academy’s Awards of Sport honor those who have made significant contributions to sport in categories as diverse as the artist and the athlete. The Academy’s American Sport Art Museum and Archives annually recognizes these men and women through its Sport Artist of the Year, Honorary Doctorates, Athletes of the Year and Alumni of the Year awards.
“I am truly honored to receive this prestigious award from such a highly regarded institution as the Academy,” Lester said. “Many of the previous recipients have been people I have admired and followed all of my career.”
Growing up in Atlanta, Lester loved drawing, painting and playing sports. He played baseball through college and achieved a black belt in two forms of martial arts. After graduating from Georgia State University with a degree in Visual Arts, he began his career as a commercial illustrator with an emphasis on sports. He produced a series of Gameday program covers for Georgia Tech University, and his skills landed him a role as the Creative Director of Turner Broadcasting System. After getting a taste for television, Steven ultimately became a Vice President and Creative Director for two international advertising agencies, where he won more than 100 national and international awards.
Even though Lester achieved commercial success, he never lost sight of his lifelong ambition of becoming a full-time sports artist. Upon retiring from leadership in the advertising field, Lester shifted his focus to his love of painting. His dynamic, narrative subjects are both contemporary and imminently relatable. His work is in demand by major corporations, universities, art collectors, athletes and private individuals who appreciate his unique style and approach.
He was selected as one of only 16 artists in America to be a 2019 Fellow in the Clark Hulings Fund’s Art-Business Accelerator Program.
Lester has been invited to stage several live painting events at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. He has also created a series of Olympic-themed paintings which will be unveiled at a solo sports art exhibition at the Eastern Shore Art Center in Fairhope, Ala., from August 2-30, 2019.