Carling Jackson is known as The Athlete Artist, but her work goes well beyond sports art. Jackson is currently working on a painting based on a never-before-seen photograph of Kobe Bryant as a child playing basketball in Europe. She plans to gift the painting to Vanessa Bryant once it’s finished, as she discusses here.

Jackson is also focussed on making an impact with her artwork and creating change. In addition to the Kobe piece, she’s working on a painting of Justin Fashanu, the first European soccer player to come out as gay. He ultimately committed suicide and not many pro athletes have followed in his footsteps of opening up about their sexuality. Jackson is creating the piece to raise awareness of homophobia in European sports.

“Being able to create change with my artwork is better than any kind of painting you could ever get,” she says.

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