Talk about mixed martial arts!
Gian Galang walked into Kings Theatre on Feb. 10 and almost had to pinch himself — it was a dream come true for the Williamsburg graphic designer to watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship 208 weigh-ins in person, but here’s the kicker: Each fighter was wearing a limited-edition T-shirt with his art on the front.
“It was just surreal,” he said. “I saw the media and the photographers I follow, and they were all wearing my shirts on stage. It was so cool.”
Galang got the call in July that he’d be working on the shirts — after a several-month stint with Reebok’s combat-gear division — and immediately started drawing, eventually coming up with a design that was featured at both weigh-ins and sold at merch tables throughout Barclays Center during the Feb. 11 fights.
The artist has been watching Ultimate Fighting for as long as he can remember — usually catching weigh-ins online. In fact, the Hong Kong native is a fighter himself, versed in both karate and Muay Thai.
“I’ve been doing martial arts my whole life,” Galang said. “I was raised on Jackie Chan movies. It’s just always been part of my life.”
He earned his degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and moved to New York to pursue a career in graphic design and advertising. He served as the senior art director at agency Brooklyn Brothers for almost six years before recently turning his attention to his own art. And, of course, Galang was once again drawn to mixed martial arts.
He started working with Fightland — bro-media group Vice’s fight-focused platform — and his fan base has practically exploded over the last few months, drawing interest from Reebok and bout organizers.
“I’d always been doing side things and that was one of them,” Galang said. “I started getting picked up a little bit for my UFC work. Somebody tweeted my illustrations to one of the fighters and he made it his Facbeook profile picture. It got on Reddit and that’s how I met up with Vice.”
He signed a handful of special-edition prints of his T-shirt design and, once again, was certain he was dreaming as soon as he walked into Barclays Center.
“We went by the merch table, and I was like gaping at my poster,” Galang said. “I’ve never done anything something like that. I had to sign a bunch of posters and get them all set for tonight.”
Galang — who is still working out of his Brooklyn Brothers office — is hopeful that his partnership with Ultimate Fighting will continue. He’s been to one weigh-in in person, and now, watching online won’t be quite the same, he said.
“[They] said they’re really pumped about it,” Galang said. “And we can hopefully do a lot more stuff in the future.”