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How Franchise Mag co-founder Justin Montag is meshing art and bball

“I’m hoping that Franchise can help elevate the works and the artists that we feel represent the game and are inspired by the game…,” said Justin Montag co-founder and Editor in Chief of Franchise Magazine.

Franchise Magazine explores the intersection between art and basketball and gives artists a platform to showcase their work and perspectives on the game.

“With a filtered point of view, really trying to highlight artists that we feel are contributing something new to the conversation,” continued Montag.


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We got to speak with Montag about the origins of Franchise, his love for art and basketball, and the magazine’s latest venture: heading an exhibit at NBA All-Star 2020, with James Harden curating the multi-media exhibition entitled Tunnel Vision. Tess Bjiere was the editor of the project.

“James selected the players and highlighted the players that he felt had the fashion that he was looking for, for this Tunnel Vision,” explained Montag. Tunnel Vision is a segment of the larger project called Momentum, which first premiered at Art Basel 2019 in Miami.

Tunnel Vision is a video-wall installation that documents NBA and WNBA players’ pre-game walk as they move through an arena’s entry tunnel before a game. It serves as an entryway into the visual culture of the rest of Momentum.


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“Every- basically- game, a player has the opportunity to have a runway moment. And we felt that highlighting that through a video installation could be a cool way to touch on that fashion moment, but in a unique point-of-view,” says Montag.

After Tunnel Vision comes Beyond The Arc, an exhibit that pays tribute to NBA All-Star Weekend’s most legendary moments, told through the shoes and jerseys that accompanied them in basketball history.


The next exhibit, titled Chicago Excellence, celebrates the historic excellence and iconic brand that is the Chicago Bulls. Rare artifacts and mementos are examined from the dynasties that won six titles in the span of eight years.

The final exhibit Ascension was a display of above-the-rim highlight dunks at All-Star games spanning across decades and eras in the NBA.


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Before Franchise Mag, Montag was just a child in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a fan of basketball, and as he told me, “I’ve always just loved different visual means.”


Montag explained how his entry into the world of basketball started in the city he grew up in when later-Lakers star Michael Cooper played for the University of New Mexico. Every Summer, Cooper would come back and host a camp for the kids in NM, and bring his fellow NBA superstar friends like Dominique Wilkins and Robert Parish.

Then Michael Jordan came into his prime and dominated the basketball and sports landscape of the ’90s. Montag was hooked on His Airness, and his love for the general-consensus-GOAT never subsided.

“I do remember waking up on Christmas mornings, wanting to watch basketball, wanting to see Jordan play.”


Montag created Franchise with co-founder Chris Dea, and it became an outlet for sports and art lovers to coexist and learn more about the other side of the room.

“A few years ago, myself and my partner, Chris Dea, just started noticing more and more of a trend, and more interesting artists being influenced by the game,” said Montag.


He noted Tyrell Winston as one artist who is really having his moment right now and was featured in Franchise’s fourth issue.
Then, “About two years ago, I was touring the NBA offices, and we were seeing the archives, seeing tons of amazing memorabilia throughout the offices, and I was basically like ‘what is this stuff doing hidden in this office in New Jersey?

We should pair this with some of the sports from our magazine and have a show. Pair amazing memorabilia alongside incredible artwork,'” Montag passionately expressed.

For Franchise’s latest issue, Montag traveled to Greece to learn more about Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family, fresh off the Greek Freak’s MVP season and signature shoe deal.

“I can say for a fact that Giannis and his brothers – they love each other, and basketball, and their family more than anything else. They say they’re best friends, and it was so apparent that they are best friends.”

Montag continued, “[It was] just a pure, pure undying love of basketball, and of family.”

As NBA All-Star 2020 approached in the Windy City, it was only right that Franchise was playing a part in the culture. Momentum was groundbreaking in Miami, and Tunnel Vision brings a new imaginative flare.

It took some time for the visual idea of Momentum to take root, but once it did, it worked wonders. Momentum was a success at Art Basel Miami and it carried over to Chicago for All-Star Weekend 2020.

“[I] couldn’t be happier. The event looks great, the league is an amazing partner to work with, and I’m hoping this is the second one and more to come,” says Montag.


Montag has worked with Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rui Hachimura, and a plethora of other unique and inspirational NBA stars.

He is thrilled with the current state of the NBA, the parity in the game this season, and the globalization of the sport.

“When you look at basketball on a global level, it’s just incredible. The growth of the sport, the potential of the sport. With the African league launching, with the Olympics coming up this summer, more global superstars, on a global level, the game has nothing but up to go.”


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With Jordan as his all-time favorite player, and Harden as one of his favorite players playing currently, Momentum at All-Star Weekend in Chicago couldn’t have been scripted any better. Montag is a visionary, a connoisseur of visual culture, and a brilliant basketball mind.

Momentum, just like Montag’s expertise, is still coming, and there’s no sign of either of them slowing down.