Twitter has a unique way of bringing people together, just ask Sacramento Republic FC fan Jeremy Nash. It’s how his artwork has ended up in the homes of three Major League Baseball players and what initially sparked the conversation that led to Republic FC’s newest shirt: a Día de los Muertos shirt featuring a Republic FC inspired sugar skull.
Although he lives 145 miles away from Sacramento, Nash began following Republic FC earlier this year and quickly became a passionate fan before even attending a match or Republic FC event. To keep up with his new club, Nash began following Republic FC on social media, watching matches via YouTube or tuning into KHTK Sports 1140’s online radio broadcast.
“I really started getting into soccer during the 2014 World Cup,” said Nash, who grew up more of a baseball and football fan. “I then started watching a lot of MLS and Liga MX games…I was looking for something local and just started watching Republic FC this year…and the team just felt really genuine which made me love the club even more.”
In May, a tweet from Nash of his own fan art—featuring 90s nostalgia combined with Republic FC’s April Fools’ joke and brand elements—went viral among active Republic FC fans on Twitter and also caught the attention of the club. Republic FC reached out and soon Vice President of Merchandise Tim Stallings and Nash were actively discussing unique ways for the club and Nash to collaborate on projects.
This isn’t the first time Nash’s art has caught the attention of a professional sports team or player on social media. A San Diego native, Nash is a diehard baseball and Padres fan, so his early pieces of art that he began posting on Twitter were often of Padres players. His work and tweets caught the eyes of Padres fans and players alike, eventually leading to him being commissioned to create paintings that hang in the homes of several MLB players like Yonder Alonso and Mat Latos.
“I usually just sit, watching a game and draw a picture, and then I post it. And then sometimes it gets noticed.” said Nash about how he creates his work, noting he enjoys simply bring enjoyment to other fans who also love the same teams.
While Nash’s Republic FC fan art – such as a painting of one of Wilson Kneeshaw’s goal celebrations – has been popular among fans online throughout the season, the Día de los Muertos shirt is the first club collaboration with Nash.
For Nash, the project gave him a unique opportunity to visualize and celebrate his own identity as well as that of Republic FC.
In designing the shirt, Nash was drawn to sugar skulls, also known as calaveras de azucar, as they are an important tradition in Mexican culture.
“One thing that was I really wanted was to make sure it celebrated the tradition of Día de Muertos since I am half Mexican and it’s really important to my family,” said Nash.
Nash, whose mother is Mexican, was initially drawn to following soccer as an adult when he began to more closely connect with his heritage. Nash felt a sugar skull was the opportunity to blend his own heritage, his love of the beautiful game and of the club he supports.
“I wanted to make it significantly different than any other one [design] I’ve done or seen online,” said Nash. “With this one I wanted to make it honored the team and the region.”
Sugar skulls—which have origins dating back to early Aztec culture—are a symbol of celebration and remembrance. Often the intricate designs feature vivid color and flowers, symbolizing life.
For his design Nash incorporated the Californian poppy into the Republic FC skull, as it is California’s state flower and is also indigenous to Mexico. Nash then incorporated elements of Republic FC’s brand, such as the bear and star, into the rest of the sugar skull design.
“Instead of putting roses or carnations—which are common—on the temples of the skull, I researched and decided to put the California poppy, which is the state flower and then I added the nautical star and other elements of the brand,” explained Nash. “It’s not just a generic skull, it needed to belong to the team.”
The Republic FC sugar skull t-shirt is available both at Republic FC Headquarters and Team Store and the online store. The shirt is available in men’s and women’s sizes for $26 and youth sizes for $20.
The Team Store is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and located at 2421 17th Street in Sacramento. Fans may also shop online 24/7 at shop.sacrepublicfc.com.