Liberty for All: Matt Klein & The American Heritage Collection.

Each year, Oakley Standard Issue releases the American Heritage Collection during the annual celebration of Independence Day. We find an iconic symbol or experience that epitomizes the spirit of America. The imagery inspires a new eyewear collection. Often times, it lends itself to additional collaborations.

Oakley Standard Issue is proud to release the Liberty Collection. Three different eyewear styles adorned with graphics inspired by the Statue of Liberty. Split Shot, Holbrook, and Gascan are all adorned with unique graphics, Oakley Prizm Black lens technology, and a custom microbag.

An American Icon

The copper statue, a gift from the people of France, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886.

A celebrated statue, and certainly hard to miss, the Statue of Liberty is adorned with much symbolism. Her crown represents light with its spikes evoking sun rays extending out to the world. The tablet, inscribed with July 4, 1776 in Roman numerals, noting American independence. To symbolize the end of slavery, the artist Bartholdi placed a broken shackle and chains at the Statue’s foot.⁠

One of the most popular American landmarks, the statue receives close to 3.5 million visitors each year.

An Artist’s Inspiration

Army Veteran, and NYPD Officer and Forensic Artist, Matt Klein is no stranger to lady liberty. Born and raised in New York, NY, Klein has always had a passion for America, and a passion for art.

As a young boy, Klein grew up with a father who worked full time as an artist. “I got most of my talent from my Dad,” says Klein. “He worked on numerous animated films and commercials. He’d come home and work on stuff, and then to see it on T.V. or the big screen it was really cool. Most of it was just observation, I picked it up just watching him.” As a young man, Klein would draw and sketch all the time, but mainly it was just a hobby.

After the events of 9/11, Klein was inspired to join the Military. Klein’s grandfather had served in WWII, with notable service in Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal, and Okinawa. With the collapse of the Twin Towers in his home city, Klein’s decision to enlist was an easy one. Klein enlisted in 2002, and then deployed to Iraq in both 2003 and 2005. An Infantryman, Klein served with the 3rd Infantry Division with 2/7 Infantry for his first tour, and then with 3/69 Armor for the second tour.

Upon discharge in 2006, Klein had the unique opportunity to apply for the NYPD. “I got out of the Army and literally three months later I was in the Police Academy,” says Klein. For 8 years, Klein served as a ‘street cop’ for the NYPD. Until, someone recognized his talent for drawing. “Someone heard that I knew how to draw, so they asked me to take a drawing test in 2011,” says Klein. “I took the test, and passed, but had to wait until the current Forensic Artist retired.” In 2015, Klein joined the Detective Bureau and became a Forensic Artist and Detective.

A Forensic Sketch artist, also known as a sketch artist, is a graphic artist that renders free-hand or computerized drawings for identification, apprehension or conviction purposes. Often, the artist interviews a victim or witness to a crime in order to recreate an image that best reflects their memory. “At first it was very challenging, but the longer you do it, you start understanding the right questions to ask,” says Klein. He was one of only about 100 full-time forensic artists in the United States, plying a throwback trade that relies on the skill of getting often-traumatized people to open up and talk about a horrific crime.

“It’s all about the witness,” Klein said. “You have to be able to communicate with them. I try to put them at ease, give them sympathy, and then we get to work.”

The Next Chapter

Klein retired from the NYPD in December 2022. He has spent over 20-years in uniform serving his country. “My time spent in uniform has been some of the most rewarding times in my life,” says Klein. “I’m glad to have been a part of something bigger than myself. The American flag to me symbolizes how precious freedom is and how many people before me, and current, give it all to preserve that freedom.”

Today, Klein is focused on his family and his art. Making up for lost time time. Klein’s art can be found through his website and shop: Battle Tribe. A very unique collection of drawings, prints, shirts, and more. All inspired and influenced by his experiences, but also film, T.V., and popular culture.

Most recently, Klein has created a unique drawing for Oakley Standard Issue in collaboration with the Liberty Collection. Several prints will be made, and one will be given away over the holiday weekend.

To see more of his work, go follow him on Instagram HERE.

Drew Wallace

Drew Wallace is a veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment, and has served in support of both OIF and OEF. He has been part of the Oakley SI team since 2012 and served in both product and marketing roles.

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