Last week I was on Twitter when a good friend of mine, Vanderbilt shooting guard John Jenkins, changed his Twitter icon. I asked him where he his new picture came from, and he told me that Brendan Lunn (twitter.com/NBAguy11) had made it for him, and that he made wallpapers for a bunch of college and NBA players. I looked up his stuff on Twitter and was very impressed. After I followed Brendan, he reached out to me saying he was a big fan of Dime Magazine, and then proceeded to ask if some of his work could be featured in Dime. I responded that I would ask my editor.
Over the course of the week, Brendan said he was really excited about the potential opportunity, and told me how it was his favorite magazine and site. I was thinking to myself, this guy is probably in his mid-20s or 30s who is in the midst of a career change. He likely wants to be in Dime to help him launch his new career or just get some publicity. After I heard back from Aron that I could interview Brendan for the website, I set up a time to call him. In the two days between scheduling the interview, he mentioned how nervous he was for the interview, which I found interesting since I assumed he was older than me.
So last Friday I finally called @NBAguy11, and the person on the other end of the line sounded really young. I thought maybe he just had a different voice or maybe the guy making these great pictures for NBA players really was just that: a kid. Eventually I asked Brendan how old he is, to which he responded, “I’m 14. I just finished middle school.” I felt like Elaine in the “Seinfeld” episode where she goes to the video store and always rents Vincent’s Picks. She then falls for Vincent who frequently calls her on the phone, but he turns out to be half her age. This was my Vincent moment.
So how does a 14-year-old kid begin making wallpapers for some of the best college and NBA players in the country? He must have some formal training, or something that would make him so good at what he does. But as with my assumption about his age, this assumption was also wrong.
“I really like sports, and I got Photoshop one day and started looking around for cool things you can do with Photoshop,” says Lunn. “So I started learning about how to use it and then started using different photos of people and putting them on backgrounds. Over time I got really good with it and more advanced with it, and that’s when I combined everything I knew to make the wallpapers. Once I started making them, more and more people started to want them.”
Well, Lunn is right, a lot of people seem to want his wallpapers. Some players he has made them for include Jenkins, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Evan Turner, Kris Joseph, and Joe Johnson, while his Twitter followers include Gilbert Arenas and Josh Selby. He has clearly made a name for himself amongst some of the NBA’s best, and Twitter has really helped in that regard.
“Basically all I do on Twitter is ask athletes if they want a wallpaper or background,” says Lunn. “If they respond I will show them some examples of stuff I’ve done. Then sometimes after I make something for them, they will give me a shoutout or something then other people will see my work and my ask for one too. It’s kind of a word of mouth thing.”
While many athletes use Lunn’s work on their Twitter or Facebook pages, Lunn does not charge them for it. He gets enjoyment out making the wallpapers for fun, and loves interacting with some of the players he has grown up idolizing. Right now though his primary focus is on high school. Lunn will be attending Great Neck (N.Y.) North High School starting this fall and will be taking computer design classes in addition to playing on the school basketball team. However, he still plans on making time to do wallpapers, so if you need one, just tweet at him and he will hook you up.
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