Lockport’s Tim Kuncis’ artwork is already everywhere from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum to the Major League Baseball Network studio, and it commemorates several of the sport’s legends, including members of the Cubs and White Sox.
Through his company, Barnwood Sports Design, Kuncis creates wooden flags and other custom artwork, many in the shape of a home plate.
But recently, the quality of Kuncis’ work has landed him another high-profile client, Team USA, which could greatly expand his reach. He’s now in talks to create a giant wooden American flag ahead of the 2020 Olympic games this summer in Tokyo.
“Being licensed with Team USA, I can only imagine where this is going lead to,” said Kuncis, 47. “ ... I expect to be pretty busy this coming year.”
Lost Board of Trade job
An unfortunate turn of events in 2012 led Kuncis on the path to his current situation when after 16 years working at the Chicago Board of Trade, he lost his job.
He decided to fall back on his art degree from Northern Illinois University and started working with his neighbor, a woodworker.
After he created an American flag piece, which got positive reviews via social media, a friend made a suggestion that changed his trajectory.
Speaking of the wooden flag, his friend told him, “‘You need to figure out how to make a home plate out of that,’” Kuncis recalled. “It took off from there.”
Creating custom made baseball-centric artwork was an obvious avenue for Kuncis to explore since he played college baseball at South Suburban College, Texas Christian University and NIU.
His work caught the eye of several of the league’s best players — as well as the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Kuncis now has four pieces hanging in the Hall of Fame.
“They liked the product,” said Kuncis, and the Hall of Fame is selling his work online. “Now, I’m in their store and featured in their Christmas catalog.
Kuncis’ work is also in the Roger Maris Museum in North Dakota and can be seen on MLB Network’s “Intentional Talk” behind show co-host Kevin Millar, a member of the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox. Kuncis also has his artwork hanging in MLB Network’s Studio 42, which is named after Jackie Robinson.
He has also designed art Cubs’ Hall of Famers Andre Dawson, Lee Smith and Ferguson Jenkins.
Earlier this year, he was asked by the White Sox to create an item to present to Harold Baines when the team celebrated the former designated hitter/first basemen’s Hall of Fame induction.
“I watched Harold growing up and to be affiliated with the White Sox is an honor,” he said.
After initially working out of his garage, Kuncis now has a space in the Willowbrook-Burr Ridge Sports Performance Center.
In addition to his famous clients, he sells to high school, college and minor-league teams, members of the military and law enforcement.
He uses pine, cedar and hickory to create his pieces, which on his website, barnwoodsports.com, range in price from $125 to $1,250 depending on the amount of time it takes to make, materials costs and size. A wooden Chicago flag sells for $175.
‘Still pinching myself’
For the U.S. Olympic team, while details are still being arranged, there is talk about him creating a wooden flag large enough for the hundreds of Olympians to sign before they head to Japan this summer.
He says he might even move to Cooperstown if sales at the Hall of Fame warrant it.
Kuncis remains stunned by his ascent.
“I’m just doing what I know how to do,” he said. “I got lucky. ... I’m still pinching myself to what’s going on.”