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Michelob ULTRA x NBA: From Can to Canvas

Michelob ULTRA has released 18 NBA-themed cans, capturing the ethos of each home city. Boardroom speaks with one of the designers.

Sophia Chang is a New Yorker through-and-through, from the “Queens” tattoo on her arm to the Metrocard banner she hangs in her Southern California apartment.

And when Michelob Ultra was looking for an artist to give a little flair to the NBA-themed beer cans it was designing, a good chunk of the work went to the former Parsons School of Design student — someone with plenty of background it what makes the Knicks’ home town tick.

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The Knicks’ can was not all that hard given Chang’s ties to New York and her knowledge of the local sports scene. But other teams were a little more tricky, and since “there’s only so much you can learn from the Internet,” Chang got on the phone with friends in Charlotte, Utah, Detroit, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City to learn a little more about the relationships those teams have with the locals.

“Storytelling is a big part of it, and we are telling the story of what each city provides and trying to capture the joy of attending a game and the joy that people have for their teams and their cities,” Change said. “It definitely took a lot of research to put the visuals together.”

Chang, whose work with the NBA included designing gift bags for VIPs at past All-Star Weekends, spent between 60 and 90 minutes drawing each design after completing her homework. The can drawings have a sort of graffiti-meets-Warhol-meets-Sophia feel, and they work even better when they are filled with the low-carb brew of Michelob Ultra, appealing to the fitness crowd that also likes kicking back with a cold one.

A press release from Michelob’s agency says the NBA team cans highlight 18 teams across the league and were designed by four emerging artists at the intersection of streetwear, sports and entertainment to represent each city and brings joy to fans. They went on sale Jan. 17 are available for only a limited time.

Chang’s six cans forced her to draw on her experience designing special keychains for the Knicks, Heat, and Lakers a few years back, along with signage she designed for Childhood Cancer Awareness month in 2015, around which Major League Soccer designed a support campaign.

“If you have a skill, you can fill a niche,” Chang said.

Other artists on the campaign are Drake Cereal (@drakecereal on IG), Christophe Roberts (@therealchristophe), and Chuck Anderson (@nopattern). Here are some of the cans that Chang, (@esymai) and the group designed: