Renowned innovative artist David Le Batard has died at the age of 50. His colorful artwork is well known to cruise fans not only as part of the popular Park West art galleries on board many cruise lines, but he also designed the eye-catching hull artwork of Norwegian Getaway, which joined the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet in 2014.

Cuban-American graphic artist David “Lebo” Le Batard died in the early morning hours of August 1, 2023. The cause of death has not been disclosed, but the artist’s passing was announced by his older brother, Dan Le Batard, on a popular podcast.

Lebo’s passing is mourned throughout the art world, including by Park West Gallery – the gallery most frequently seen aboard cruise ships, where many travelers have first discovered Lebo’s colorful work that often featured animals, bold lines, bright colors, and exaggerated shapes.

David “Lebo” Le Batard

Lebo himself described his unusual work as “postmodern cartoon expressionism” and credited influences from comic strips, morning cartoon shows, and Egyptian hieroglyphics as helping define his personal style.

His goal was to bring joy into the modern art world and make it accessible to everyone with imagery they could engage with, such as the cats and owls he often incorporated into his pieces.

“While the work of every artist is innately unique, Lebo’s style was so distinctive and easily identifiable that it resonated in the hearts and minds of so many collectors and me personally. Lebo’s personality and demeanor were just as colorful and bold as his art,” said Marc Scaglione, President, Park West Gallery. “I was so excited to have him join and share his passion with our collectors and he is going to be greatly missed.”

One of Lebo’s most well-known pieces is also one of his largest – the hull mural for the 145,655-gross ton, Breakaway-class Norwegian Getaway.

With bold swirls of blue, teal, yellow, orange, and red, the cartoon-esque mermaid on the ship’s hull guides the vessel through rough waters and brings joy to passengers both onboard the ship and as they see the vessel in port.

The whimsical design includes the mermaid holding a bright sun above the waves, evoking good weather and sunny skies for every sailing. Also part of the hull design are pelicans, waves, and palm trees.

Norwegian Cruise Line also noted the artist’s passing with a touching tribute on social media, thanking Lebo for his amazing work and preserving his legacy.

Lebo was selected as the ship’s hull artist in part because he was based in Miami, where the cruise line is headquartered and where Norwegian Getaway was initially homeported year-round. When the ship debuted in 2014, it was the largest vessel to homeport from PortMiami.

Today, Norwegian Getaway is offering European sailings for the summer, including visits to destinations in France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Germany, the UK, and other ports of call.

In October, the ship will reposition to New York to offer Caribbean and Bermuda sailings through the winter, before returning to Europe to spend the 2024 summer season in the Mediterranean and sailing the Greek Isles.

Norwegian Getaway Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Wojciech Wrzesien / Shutterstock)

In late 2024, Norwegian Getaway is scheduled to homeport from New Orleans, Louisiana, offering 7-night Caribbean sailings and bringing its colorful artwork to even more cruise and art fans.

Norwegian Cruise Line is well-known for selecting unique and influential artists to design the instantly recognizable hulls of its ships, particularly in the Breakaway class. Other amazing artists to have designed Norwegian ship hull art include Peter Max (Norwegian Breakaway), Guy Harvey (Norwegian Escape), and Robert Wyland (Norwegian Bliss).

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