The Eels are proud to unveil a special collaboration with Western Sydney artist Chris Yee to celebrate Lunar New Year.
The unique artwork was designed to pay homage to the Asian community of Western Sydney and their connection to the Eels.
Designer Chris Yee sought to illustrate this connection for Lunar New Year through the lens of an Asian-Australian born and raised in Western Sydney.
“I wanted to create something that captured the energy and aura of the Eels, the nuance of the surrounding Asian-Australian communities, and something that combines all of these ideas to feel visually new and somewhat futuristic,” he explained.
Western Sydney is home to one of Australia’s greatest Asian communities. 11.2% of the population of Parramatta’s catchment area are of Chinese, Vietnamese, or Korean heritage; 4% greater than the national representation.
Among this community is Chris Yee.
Of Chinese descent, Chris discovered his sense of identity as an Australian in Sydney’s west. Core to this identity is Rugby League.
“Rugby League was such a big part of going to a boys’ public school,” he explained.
“I loved the companionship and idea of being part of a shared collective that inspired the whole school… I always loved the team logos and almost superhero-level power of the players.
“Funnily enough my Mum used to own a cake shop and we used to create celebration cakes for a few clubs and teams in the 90s.”
Chris grew up a time of limited opportunity for artists. He completed a design degree majoring in graphic and textiles as one of very few paths into the creative world. However, his true passion was for illustration.
Eventually, his self-taught skills were recognised by the creative community, and he begun working as a freelance illustrator for surf and skate brands. This soon developed into a full-time career, allowing him to develop his creative identity.
Chris’ art is influenced by hyper graphics, maximalism and loud colours. He strives to convey a narrative of the current Asian-Australian experience by deconstructing traditional Chinese designs and reimagining them in modern artforms.
This style is at the fore of his collaboration with the Eels.
Lotus flowers and moon gates, staples of Lunar New Year, are fused with electric lines and sharp compositions to create a “neo-Asian aesthetic”, capturing the modern personality of Asian Australia with nods to the past.
At the heart of this artwork is a dragon resembling an eel, a tribute to both the Club and the upcoming Year of the Dragon. This figure is central to the design, as the Parramatta Eels are to Western Sydney.
Chris emphasised the importance of the Eels to Western Sydney, particularly to its youth and ethnic communities.
“The Eels create a point of celebration which is so strong for the cultural communities in the area,” he explained.
“They can appear as a source of inspiration and otherworldly icons which can help encourage hope and a future living in the area, rather than dreaming of being somewhere else.”
“The Eels have so much history and strength in the area. Reaching out and collaborating with less obvious pockets of the West, like the arts, can create some extremely interesting and exciting results that can help amplify the morale of the community.”
The intersection of sport, art, and culture holds great promise for Western Sydney’s ethnic communities, according to Chris. He says this joint force has the power to break down barriers and create new opportunities for all.
Through his art and through this collaboration, he aims to inspire Western Sydney and help create a bright, new future.
“I aspire to continue and expand the story we all share growing up in this side of Sydney,” Chris said.
“Compared to the world we may feel small, but I truly believe there’s such a diverse range of stories from family to sport to art that has not been told.
“I really hope this graphic inspires the Asian-Australian and smaller ethnic communities to feel represented by the greater west and strengthen a sense of unity amongst our shared suburbs and cultures.
“From a Rugby League point-of-view, I hope it inspires individuals within smaller communities to take part in the sport and give the game a go!”