Gary DeStefano
Pop Culture Images

How It All Began

As a kid growing up I loved sports especially baseball. Raised in Queens I became a lifelong Mets fan. Later on in my teens, combining drawing and sports I started to collect signatures on my artwork as a hobby. One thing would lead to another and before long my collection started to grow. Moving to Long Island in my teens I still followed the Mets and became a fan of the Islands hockey team, The New York Islanders. The Islanders practiced in Farmingdale at a facility called Racquet & Rink. Eventually I became friendly with a few of the players and was introduced to the marketing folks with the team. Soon thereafter I was commissioned to do the artwork for the Islander fact books and posters which were sold at the games. This all took place from about 1975 through 1983/84. The posters were a huge success and the relationship with the concession company selling the posters at the games, Harry M. Stevens grew. At the same time the Islanders made NHL history winning four consecutive Stanley Cups, 1980 through 1983.

The New York Islanders

1979 New York Islanders promotional Burger King poster

This was a commission for Burger King. They gave these away honoring the 1979 Club.

Bobby Nystrom

Bobby Nystrom and Gary DeStefano

"Mr. Islander" Scored the winning goal at the 7:11 mark of overtime giving the Islanders the 1980 Stanley Cup Title.

Glenn “Chico” Resch

Glenn “Chico” Resch and Gary DeStefano

In his 6th full season Resch was part of the 1980 Stanley Cup Championship season.

Catfish Hunter

Catfish Hunter promotional Burger King poster Gary DeStefano and Catfish Hunter

Here's a project for Burger King. A Catfish Hunter appearance & poster giveaway. Got a chance to meet Catfish and get the original artwork signed. Catfish retired in 1979 with 224 wins. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987.

Roberto Duran

Roberto Duran and Gary DeStefano

Making contacts I got to Robert Duran's training camp and met the Champ before his second "No Mas" bout with Sugar Ray Leonard. Duran was nicknamed "Manos De Piedra" with good reason, translation; "Hands of Stone"

"The Greatest of all Times"

Muhammad Ali

Gary DeStefano and Muhammad Ali Muhammad Ali Illustration

This turned out to be a thrill of a lifetime, getting to meet the Champ, Muhammad Ali, one of my all time favorites. Harry M Stevens approached me to do a poster to be sold at Yankee Stadium for the third Ali-Norton Bout. My illustration did not make the final cut but they agreed to get it autographed for me. To my disbelief they set up a meeting at Ali's training camp to actually meet him. Muhammad was terrific, signing my artwork and even personalizing a special poem. "Service to others is the rent we pay for our room here on earth" dated September 9th, 1976.

Here are a few more athletes along the way into the 1980's…

Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron and Gary DeStefano Hank Aaron Illustration

Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record April 8th, 1974, hitting career number 715. Around 1980 I caught up to Hank Aaron finally getting artwork signed by one of my all time favorites.

Willie Mays

Willie Mays Illustration

"The Say Hey Kid" Played for the New York Giants from 1951 through 1972. One of the greatest center fielders of all time. The Giants relocated to San Francisco in the late 50's. Willie was traded to the New York Mets in 1972 where I got to meet and get this one signed.

Ken Norton

Gary DeStefano and Ken Norton Ken Norton Illustration

WBC World Heavyweight Champion. Best known for his 12 round victory over Muhammad Ali, when he famously broke Ali's jaw on March 31st, 1973. I caught up to Ken while he was training for a match with Gerry Cooney.

90's -2000's

I took time out from Sports for quite a few years shifting attention to focus on Super Hero Characters and Sci-Fi movie paintings.

2013 and Beyond

Getting back into the Sports work again and currently working on a painting of Terrell Manning, linebacker for the San Diego Chargers. Here's a "sneak peak" for now. We'll post more pix and background story on this one when it's done.

Working on painting of Terrell Manning