Article updated 15/5, removal of links no longer valid.
As we always say, passion in the ring inspires passion on the page. Sometimes though, it’s leads to something more. The right piece of fan art catches the right attention from people with the right intentions. Such was the case with David Missio out of Toronto. You’ve likely seen his Dancing Sami piece. Not only celebrated by Sami Zayn himself but also adopted as the art on a campaign t-shirt from raising money for Sami For Syria.
Before this article continues, I’d like to get something out of the way; this article is not paid for or sponsored by PWTees or any party. Simply put, if I can promote it in a small way, I’m gonna!
Like many young artists, David’s first forays into drawing were inspired by comic books, in particular, superheroes. “I collected almost all of the Batman titles in the late 80s”, says David, “my earliest influences were Norm Breyfogle, Jim Aparo and Kelley Jones.” Young David would also be finding his footing in the wrestling fandom as well. “My brother Erik and I would watch the WWF with my grandpa who would lurch and jump with every big hit or slam.”
Interest in wrestling may have waned and returned on and off, but art stayed with David. Producing wrestling-inspired art would be an inevitability, even if it only came later on. “Comics and wrestling were some of my earliest loves, but it has only been recently that I’ve gotten into real fan art.” Not one for Twitter himself, David’s sister Sonja Cori Missio would tweet his early fan art (with his permission of course) while tagging wrestlers, getting the attention of Cesaro, Taz, Sting and many more. “Getting that kind of recognition has been really motivating.”
Likes and Retweets are lovely, but Sami Zayn was the first to shout out David’s work on social media, and it all stemmed out of a very silly segment. While a better part of the audience (rightfully) chuckled while watching Sami Zayn’s dance prowess on an April edition of Smackdown, David saw a muse. “Sami is a talent that will always pull me in with his energy and the Sami Dance brought a huge smile to my face. I know when I feel affected by something in wrestling, chances are somebody else has as well.” Boy, was David right.
The piece got lots of love, including of course, from Sami himself.
Once Sami platformed David’s endearing piece, the merch questions came pouring in (none about wallpaper, unfortunately). Fans tweeted in reply that they wanted prints and shirts with Dancing Sami. Reading the replies and seeing the interest, David saw an opportunity to do some good in the world. “Knowing his Sami For Syria charity was doing such good work, I took the opportunity to tweet at him to thank him for the shout-out and to suggest he could use the image to raise funds.”
A few days later, he would receive an Instagram DM from Sami himself, asking about making a shirt with 100% of profits going to Sami For Syria. “It was a no-brainer for me and I told him he could use it.” The turnaround would take a few short days. Sami put David in contact with Pro Wrestling Tees, who would slightly reorganize the art with David’s full support, and the campaign went live Monday of this week!
When asked about Sami For Syria, David had this to say: “I’m a Child and Youth Worker, I take pride and pleasure in helping others and working towards improving my community through outreach efforts. Having my art be used to raise money for those less fortunate is a best case scenario for someone like me. Sami Zayn is one of the good guys and it’s an honour to be able to help out in a small way.”
The Sami Dance tee is available exclusively through Pro Wrestling Tees with 100% of profits going to Sami For Syria. The shirt is limited edition, and is only available until TOMORROW at 1:00PM EST.
Get yours! I ordered mine. I’m still waiting on news on the wallpaper though.
David Missio continues to practice art both as a hobby and as a mean to connect with the kids he works with as a Child and Youth Worker. He of course practices his fan art of some of wrestling’s finest, but also works on a series of facades of Toronto’s restaurants and venues as well as a focus on more sequential/comic based works. Most recently, he’s picked up a new medium. “I’ve also recently gotten into wood-burning and am excited by the new medium.”