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The Caw: The Ravens Players' Artist

Posted Feb 12, 2014

Shawn Forton of Perryville, MD has sold paintings to about 40 Ravens players.

Shawn Forton of Perryville, Md., has become the artist to the (Ravens) stars.

Forton estimates he has sold or bartered paintings to about 40 Ravens players. He has about 20 or 25 of their phone numbers, and gets orders from them frequently.

It all began when Forton, 29, was asked to do a Steelers drawing in December of 2011. He was pleased with how the Steelers art turned out (besides the subject matter) and made a bunch of prints.

“People were knocking down my door to buy them,” he said. “So I was like, ‘If they’re doing this for the Steelers, maybe I should try it for the Ravens.’”

Forton did a Ray Lewis picture, which garnered praise on social media. That drew attention, and an eventual partnership, with a memorabilia wholesaler, who started taking Forton’s artwork to shows.

The first player to buy something of Forton’s was fullback Vonta Leach, Forton’s favorite player. From there, it “spread like wildfire.”

Forton would bring his paintings to players’ autograph signings, and the athletes themselves would often be highly impressed and want one. At one event, linebacker Jameel McClain bought a painting of safety James Ihedigbo, then taunted him about it on Twitter. The attention led to six or seven orders from other Ravens players in a week.

In addition to Leach, McClain and Ihedigbo, Forton has done artwork for Torrey Smith, Art Jones, Jacoby Jones, Lardarius Webb, Ray Rice, Terrell Suggs, Justin Tucker and many more.

Forton sells them from anywhere between $200 and $1,500, but also sometimes cuts deals in exchange for autographed memorabilia. He has quite the collection now, including a litany of unique autographed game-worn items.

He’s now receiving calls from players on other NFL teams, including the Panthers, Patriots and Dolphins.

“When I wake up to messages from players asking for my art, it’s a motivator,” Forton said. “It’s a great feeling. When you work hard to do something, it’s nice when the players know who you are.”

Forton has been drawing and painting for nearly his entire life, but his full-time job is working with the K-9 unit of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

Forton often posts pictures of his work on Twitter @ShawnForton. Here’s a sampling of his work (Mobile users click “View In Browser” above):

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