READING, Pa. – Just a bobblehead from Reading.
“He won the state championship for Reading,” artist Kiel Gaffner said of Lonnie Walker. “Obviously, I’m a huge hoop head, and I saw him at the ‘U’ (University of Miami), which is my favorite college of all time, and then I saw him get drafted. When I was kid, I was a huge Spurs fan.”
Gaffner, of Warrington, Bucks County, is a Costco employee by day and a bobblehead “head” by night. He’s trying to build a career from his pandemic pastime of crafting the colorful, caricatured creations.
“I have a background in art, and it sort of took off from there,” Gaffner said.
What “took off from there” has many taking notice now, as Gaffner recently got some attention from another PA-based basketball phenom like Walker: Williamsport’s Alize Johnson.
“Alize Johnson’s representation had reached out to me and said, ‘I love your work. Can you do 50 bobbleheads for us?'” Gaffner recalled.
With recent works depicting Lonnie Walker’s progression from Reading High School to the NBA, Gaffner says it’s his attention to detail has fans and players taking notice.
Lonnie Walker IV. McDonalds All-American Class of 2017. #12 Prospect of ESPN’s Top 100. Custom kicks. Harden Vol. 1’s pic.twitter.com/zD5EXzOuQk
— Kiel Gaffner (@TheGaff831) May 13, 2022
“I can do the sneakers, I can do these little add-ons that maybe these other guys cannot do,” he said.
Gaffner is keeping his day job for now, but what started out as an isolation distraction is opening up a potential new life path.
What would he think if Reading’s Lonnie Walker reached out next?
“It would be huge. It would be huge if that was possible, that’s why I like to just post it out there,” Gaffner said. “I’ve reached out to Bryce Harper before. You know, just put my art out there.”
Follow Gaffner on Twitter to learn more about his latest bobblehead work and projects.