Kevin Charles and his daughter wore these customized RGIII and Sean Taylor coats in April, during the Redskins’ draft day party at FedEx Field. Not a ton of people noticed, though, amid the day’s festivities.
But Charles — a 53-year old artist who lives in Atlanta — also brought some of his original Redskins paintings to the party. And those paintings caught the attention of an official with the Redskins Charitable Foundation, who invited Charles to come to the team’s Welcome Home Luncheon earlier this month.
Naturally, Charles wore the RGIII coat. The quarterback wound up autographing it. And media members were drawn to the coat like bloggers to PTI transcripts.
“I’m humbled right now,” Charles told Comcast SportsNet’s Tarik El-Bashir. “I’m speechless right now man. It’s just unbelievable. It’s awesome man.”
The artist — who was born in Glen Burnie and spent most of his career in Baltimore before moving to Georgia two years ago — brought 250 business cards to the luncheon. He left with none, and just placed an order for 2,000 more. Griffin, he said, commissioned a painting for his mother. London Fletcher ordered a painting for himself. Charles said he’s been swamped since the event, answering questions about his business and work; his Web site, he said, has been “off the hook.”
“That event really opened up some things for me,” he told me this week. “Oh my lord man, I think I was on every channel there is. I mean, I was on Comcast, I was on 4, I think 7, 6, 5, 11. Man, it was so many of them I just gave up trying to keep up.”
Charles was a Colts fan as a kid, but like some people of a certain age who were born between the two cities, he did become a Redskins fan during Baltimore’s NFL interregnum.
“Then we got the Ravens, and I had to show the Ravens some love,” he explained. “But I’ve still got me an itch for the Washington Redskins.”
Hence the FedEx Field and Welcome Home Luncheon appearances. In truth, though, Charles is hesitant to identify his favorite NFL team, since he does artwork for all 32 teams, and does not want to chase away any potential customers, especially with his clothing line set to launch in December. Which brings us to the coats, officially known as Kustom Coats.
“I paint on canvas, I can paint on walls, I can paint on trucks and walls and helmets,” he explained. “So I said let me try a coat out, and that’s what’s I did.”
Every coat is custom designed and handmade. Charles has already made coats for Taylor, Griffin, and players from the Ravens, Falcons, Saints, Steelers and Packers; he’s getting ready to start a Colin Kaepernick piece. The coats are canvas dusters — “they used to wear them in the Western days, they used to ride horses on them,” he told me — and the paint is acrylic and weather-resistant. One Ravens coat was made eight years ago and still looks just swell. Still, these are meant more as collector’s items than as every-day outerwear.
“It’s unique, one of a kind, it’s something that everyone can’t get,” he said. “If you want to really show your team spirit one day, you throw your coat on, go out and show people that you’ve got something nobody got. You design your own coat, basically. You’re not going to see another one in the world….It’s for the ultimate fan.”
The RGIII and Sean Taylor coats were both priced at $750. At least, until Griffin put pen to duster.
(Top image via @recordsANDradio.)