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Lasting a Lifetime
Sports artist preserves precious memories


December 2016

Photography courtesy of JON ALLYN

Anyone with a child involved in sports knows the excitement, joy and heroic moments that occur on those playing fields. When they happen, they’re priceless, but they often disappear as time diminishes our memories.

“Snapshots end up in a shoebox or maybe an album, but a portrait lasts a lifetime,” says Milwaukee-based sports photographer Jon Allyn. He believes the dedication of these young athletes and their families warrants recognition, and he says he focuses on youth sports because the play is “more organic and much more real; it’s a big influence on how the kids develop.”

A professional photographer for more than 35 years, Allyn has won several awards, including the Professional Photographers of America’s Diamond Photographer of the Year. He is also one of only 115 photographers in the world to have earned a fellowship from the American Society of Photographers.

In 2010, Allyn found a way to take his photography to a new level by combining his skills as a photographer with digital painting. “I can take photographs, but I can’t paint,” he explains. “When one of my photographs is put into a computer program, I am able to alter my sports photographs into stylized dry-brush paintings. It’s the perfect marriage of science and art.”

Allyn’s work is unique. “Almost no one I’ve come across has thought about this kind of work. They just think in terms of game photos, but not sports art,” Allyn says. He focuses on providing custom wall art — often scaled to fit specific spaces in clients’ homes. A key element in Allyn’s work is personalization. “Clients know they’re buying unique pieces of art created for them because they can dictate what is in the portrait,” he adds. For example, Allyn can choose to downplay distractive background elements by changing their color or playing up other elements.

He works with a variety of clients, like Catholic Memorial High School and Homestead High School, to produce photographs of teams and their families. Part of Allyn’s marketing strategy involves being active in booster clubs and charities, where he often donates pieces of work to generate interest and publicity. “You have to give something to get something,” he adds.

Looking to the future, Allyn is more passionate than ever about honoring athletes while pushing the limits of his own artistic expression and creating exciting artwork for his clients. “I keep every door open. If someone has an idea, I’m always open to something new,” he says.

To learn more and see examples of Allyn’s work, go to


This story ran in the December 2016 issue of: