TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida A&M University senior graphic design student Elijah Rutland’s artwork will be front and center for the NBA All-Star Game festivities in Atlanta this weekend.
Rutland is one of seven Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) students who will have their custom artwork displayed in the arena, at the players’ hotel, on the broadcast and across NBA social platforms ahead of and during NBA All-Star 2021 on Sunday.
Rutland’s selection is an outgrowth of work he has done in the last year. As a member of the Beats Black Creator program for HBCU students, he designed headphones last fall.
During Sunday’s events, players will conduct their on-court interviews wearing Beats custom headphones designed by Rutland.
“The NBA found out I did the headphones, and they were looking for students to do the illustrations. It was perfect timing,” said Rutland, who is scheduled to graduate this fall. The opportunities he has received while attending the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication are unprecedented, he said.
The seven students, representing Howard University, Albany State University and FAMU, respectively, created HBCU-inspired art with different themes.
Five of the artists have been invited as virtual fans for the game, while Rutland and another student will attend the game in person, the NBA announced Thursday.
Rutland, of Macon, Georgia, said his work tries to capture the sports rivalries among HBCUs.
“It’s a celebration of FAMU basketball history and HBCU basketball history,” he said. “There’s a big push to get students to go back HBCUs. HBCUs are on the rise.”
The FAMU Marching “100” Band has also taped a performance that will air during the player introductions before the game begins.
Festivities will start airing on TNT at 5 p.m. on Sunday.