Over the years, Sports Banger has taken their own guerilla approach to promotion. “I’ve had quite a few billboards before but I nicked them all and made the adverts my own for the cost of £10 at the printers and a bit of paste,” he tells us. Now, in collaboration with BUILDHOLLYWOOD as part of the Your Space Or Mine project, Sports Banger will appear with total legitimacy on multiple billboards in cities across the UK. The striking compositions of imagery and text are a celebration of their new studio, Maison de Bang Bang, as well as a tribute to art, music, and fashion on our streets as we come out of lockdown. Jonny says, “I hope the billboards make people smile or piss people off. All the emotions.”
In the wake of these exciting new developments in the Sports Banger story, we spoke to Jonny Banger about what inspires him to keep creating, community-building, and the allure of bootlegging culture.
So, how did it all start? What were your biggest inspirations growing up? And how have they impacted your work?
Jonny Banger: Sports Banger started in 2013 with a ‘Free Tulisa’ t-shirt. I just made one for myself when she was being dragged through the mud by the tabloid press.
My mum and dad were my biggest influences, without me knowing it. My dad worked for the London Federation of Boys Clubs – inner-city boxing and football for kids. After that, it was his mate’s wholesale sports shop and warehouse, markets, and car boots. I didn’t realise it was all fake bootleg knockoffs. I was 11 and I loved working there and printing t-shirts for local football teams.
My mum was a single parent mental health nurse for the NHS and died of leukaemia. From the age of 14, I didn’t really have any parental guidance – it was just me and my brother in the house. I did work experience at a local record shop in Colchester and the elders there set me on the path of records, DJing, and DIY culture. I spent every night round older mates’ flats, bedsits, and sheds, listening to records, learning, and observing.
I’m a product of my environment and so is my work. Music got me here. Louis from Tottenham Textiles showed me how clothes get made with pattern cutters, grading, seamstress, buying fabrics – that really opened my eyes to what’s possible. The new Maison De Bang Bang studio is proving a big inspiration now, it’s full of light, air, and books.