FRESNO, Calif. – Craig Campbell is best known for his success as the Clovis West girls head basketball coach. What some people don’t know is that he’s also a full-time art teacher at Clovis West High School.
“I’m not just some dumb jock coach that they shoved into art just to sit your kids,” explained Campbell. “I actually do this and I know what I’m doing.”
Just like he knows what he’s doing on the basketball court. He’s led the Golden Eagles to fifteen TRAC championships, eleven Valley titles and an Open Division State championship, but long before he was drawing up plays on the white board during games, Campbell started drawing anything he could at a young age.
“My mom was one of those that saved everything,” Campbell said. “So I have drawings from literally three years old, that you can tell it’s Batman and some kind of shark thing. You could see early on that I was very creative.”
He made a Superman book in Kindergarten, drew Jaws at age 5 and a half, an owl that he made for his mom in first grade and Mickey Mantle, which was his first commissioned piece that he drew while he was in high school in Reno, Nevada. He then went on to earn a full-ride scholarship to attend the University of Nevada.
“I had a couple of teachers [say] like ‘oh okay you love sports, let’s do this’ and like really pushed me in it and that kinda got the fire going,” Campbell explained.
Formal instruction, creativity and passion helped Campbell create some impressive work over the years. Like Clinton Portis, Dez Bryant, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
“I mean sports is my life,” Campbell said. “I love capturing the intensity in the sport. I love the sweat, the wrinkles in the clothes, and ya know the veins in the forearms or the temples. I love capturing all of that.”
With the COVID-19 shutdown, Campbell had some extra time on his hands to go back to his roots and his first passion.
“I can’t be in the gym for 8 hours, so what am I going to do,” joked Campbell.
His latest creation is an 18 x 24 original piece of Conor McGregor hand drawn, by pencil.
“Typically a piece takes me about 30 to 35 hours, that one was so intricate with all the hair, that it took probably closer to 60,” Campbell explained. “I’d work for a couple hours a day, ya know we had a lot of downtime during this.”
Campbell doesn’t normally post his pieces on social media, but he did post the McGregor piece, and it was a hit.
“I’ve had about 7 people inquire about purchasing it, but I’m kinda holding off for a month or two to see if it can make its way to him,” Campbell said.
“As confident as a I am as a basketball coach, I’m probably even more confident as an artist. I think he’s gonna really really like it if he sees it. I would be surprised if he didn’t want to purchase it, if he sees it,” Campbell said with confidence.