Creative Soccer Culture

How Inspector Nuggs Designed Our Dope “ON A PLATE” Creative Soccer Culture Tour Mementos

We touch base with the Cheddar-based tattoo artist and graphic designer who nailed this Creative Soccer Culture commission with flair and originality.

For Andy Martin, aka Inspector Nuggs, the purest forms of football and illustration require the same effort. “Drawing is like dribbling,” the multidisciplinary creative explains. “I dance and play around with it. There’s not a clear-cut way of how I’m going to get there when I start, but I always keep the ball up.”

This was true of his experience designing a bespoke New York City and Copa América-themed plate for the latest installment of SoccerBible’s “ON A PLATE” Creative Soccer Culture Tour, in partnership with adidas, on 9 June. Adorned with graphics of taxi cabs, melting pizza slices, and even a fully kitted-out Lady Liberty, Nuggs’ goal was to visually tell the unique story of creative soccer culture in The City that Never Sleeps. 

The Cheddar-based tattoo artist, graphic designer, illustrator, and lifelong Bristol City fan’s creative work is inextricably tied to his footballing roots. “In the UK, football is everything,” he says. With his ongoing work for SoccerBible’s “ON A PLATE” tour, in which he has designed menus, pennants, clothing, and now dinnerware, Nuggs is helping bring that same love of the game to the United States. 

Here, SoccerBible spoke to Nuggs about his creative persona, footballing roots, design process, and the current state of creative soccer culture.

Tell us about yourself and the story behind your alias?

Inspector Nuggs: “I was thinking about the difference between the two personas yesterday. It all starts with my childhood obsession with wrestling, particularly luchadors. In Mexican culture, a luchador is just a regular working person, but as soon as they put on the mask, they’re this superhero-type character and can reinvent themselves. I've always suffered from social anxiety and my art was the way to channel it; it all kind of lined up perfectly–my obsession with luchadors and my art becoming my mask.”

What was your introduction to luchador culture?

Inspector Nuggs: “Watching WWE growing up, luchadors were always my favorite wrestlers. With football as well, my favorite players are the ones who show their flair, like Ronaldinho.”

So Inspector Nuggs can be understood as your luchador persona when it comes to your creative work?

Inspector Nuggs: “This past month I've gotten sober, and now that I'm sober, I feel so much more able to tackle the anxiety rather than suppressing it. And that, my wanting to suppress it, was what formed the mask in a way.”

Your main creative medium is tattooing. How do you think that's helped you deal with your social anxiety? 

Inspector Nuggs: “It's a very social job. With my drawing, I was always wearing that mask as my coping mechanism. But when it came to tattooing, I didn't need that; I would spill my soul to the person I was tattooing. As soon as we were done with the tattoo and it would just be us having a conversation, then the anxiety would kick in, and it was like, ‘Oh, what? How do I talk? Where do I look?’ With my sobriety, I can feel the two personas merging and that separation isn't there as much anymore.”

You said that your favorite footballer was Ronaldinho because of the very famous flair that the Brazilian had in his game. What’s your flair, what makes you a little bit Ronaldinho?

Inspector Nuggs: “Growing up playing football, I was taught that when the ball's up in the air, get it on the ground. But with Ronaldinho, just when you thought he should stop and turn around and pass the ball, he would decide to flick it over the person's head instead and keep the ball up. It comes down to his originality; and for me, as an artist, I've always wanted to leave my legacy and be as original as I can be.”

In terms of your career, what has been something you've been able to bring your spontaneity to? What was creating the plate for SoccerBible's “On a Plate Dinner” like?

Inspector Nuggs: “For the SoccerBible plate, the process was a bit tricky because I've never been to the States and I just really didn't want to do the most obvious thing. I included the Empire State Building and some taxi cabs – so maybe a few obvious things but with my own flavour. In addition to my creative projects, I also work as a caretaker – it balances me out and keeps me in touch with the real world. When you're talking to old people, it gives you a good perspective. In between seeing clients, I would doodle in my sketchbook, a process akin to the feeling of when it's just yourself and a football, and you dance around and you just play – that is my same process for drawing. There’s not a clear-cut way of how I’m going to get there when I start, but I always keep the ball up.”

Tell us more about your relationship with football.

Inspector Nuggs: “I'm from a town called Cheddar, just outside of Bristol. My family is also from South Africa, which had a huge influence on my approach to both football and my creative work. Football, in the UK, is everything. My whole childhood was football-oriented. From a design perspective, I've always had a love for the kits. The first pair of boots that really resonated with me was a red pair of Adidas F10s. My team played in a red and white kit, I got the matching boots and socks, and I felt like the biggest baller. Design has always been a big part of my association with football, but playing football ended up becoming too regimented for me when there's no right or wrong way to do it.”

What creative projects are "right" or "wrong" for you? What makes you want to take them on, like the “On a Plate” commission?

Inspector Nuggs: “The ‘right ones’ are typically the loose ones. For this plate project, the design brief was so simple: ‘an adidas event celebrating Copa America in New York.’ The rest was just playing around. If you can't tell, the regimented projects make me feel boxed in, which puts me off. When I'm given a brief where they're happy for me to run and do my thing, that's ideal. For this, SoccerBible just let me loose, and everyone was happy with how it turned out.”

It doesn't seem like it was made by someone who has never been to New York; it’s a great job, especially in the context of Copa America, the 2026 World Cup, and how football will just be descending upon this city and country in the next few years. Have you designed tableware or home goods before?

Inspector Nuggs: “This was the first time, but in my mind, when it comes to illustration, if I can design on a body, which is what tattooing is, I can surely design on a plate.”

If you were to give a toast at dinner – served on the plates you designed, of course – what would you say about the current state of creative football culture? 

Inspector Nuggs: “Off the top of my head, I would cheers to a South African creative agency called Kasi Flavour that is killing it as far as design within football is concerned. But the bigger football brands are just not wild enough in my opinion – I wish more teams would just go crazy with their kits.”

We really need some long-sleeved kits back.

Inspector Nuggs: “You should check out Manchester United’s 93-94 black and gold away kit.”

That collar is huge. It's amazing. Who's your team? 

Inspector Nuggs: “Bristol City. We've been tiptoeing on the border of promotion for years, but we're very much going to be in the Championship for as long as I'm alive.”

Forgive us for making this joke, but what do you have on your plate for the rest of the year? 

Inspector Nuggs: “This year has been brilliant, so I want to stay on the same trajectory, and just keep getting better at tattooing.”

When did you start tattooing?

Inspector Nuggs: “Last year. A guy took me on as an apprentice and bailed, so I was left with the studio and started winging it. I'm going to Australia in late September after not leaving the UK since 2019. Until then, I’ll be doing my tattooing, my illustration, and my caretaking work, and then I have a one-way ticket.”

Last question – the Euros have kicked off. Do you think football's coming home?

Inspector Nuggs: “Of course it is!”

You have to say that, don't you?

Inspector Nuggs: “Yeah, I do. But I mean it after the last one.”

Photography courtesy of Inspector Nuggs, Oscar Dryden, and Pete Martin.

About the Author
Zoe Allen

SoccerBible contributor

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