Stephen Cheetham & Sneakers Magazine
After seeing Stephen Cheetham’s recent Decade print series (as seen in the A&S shop), Germany's Sneakers Magazine asked the artist if he’d mind answering some questions about his work and his views on sneakers. In addition to talking to the magazine, Cheetham also took the opportunity to draw six new sneakers to illustrate the piece...
The shoes illustrated include a Nike Free Run 2, Nike Flyknit Racer, Nike Hyperdunk, Nike/Cole Haan LunarGrand, NikeCraft Mars Yard Shoe and a Vans Era. The spread from the magazine (which features all six illustrations) is shown below, and Sneakers Magazine have also been kind enough to let us run an exerpt from the interview in English (as the magazine is in German):
SM: Can you briefly introduce yourself?
SC: My name is Stephen Cheetham, I’m an illustrator based in London. I’ve been illustrating for about three years, creating work for various clients and my own amusement.
SM: An iconic selection is always hard because it forces you to dismiss others. Was it hard to make the list and which ones were the hardest to leave out?
SC: It was difficult, mostly because there was too much to choose from. The only reason I chose eight models for each decade was because it looked good on the page, but picking more would have made my life a lot easier. I’m not sure I’d call it an iconic selection, but more of a personal selection. I’m sure a lot of people out there would change my selection. I left out the Jordan III, which to a lot of people is one of the most iconic sneakers ever, but it’s not for me. I think the one model I left out that, if I did these again I wouldn’t, is the Footscape. I love that shoe, but for some reason it completely slipped my mind while creating these illustrations. It was bound to happen I guess.
SM: Do you think this decade’s sneakers will be as iconic as the classics Cortez or Jordans?
SC: Hmmm, I’m not sure. There have been some pretty significant new models over the past year or so, most notably (in my opinion) the Flyknit Racer, which is really exciting in terms of technology and beauty. I definitely think it will become iconic in terms of the design and technology, and will have a huge impact on future models and on footwear manufacture as a whole. I think the status of the Jordans are slightly different though. That wasn’t just about a sneaker, but a sportsman too. Every kid playing basketball in the 80s wanted to be Michael Jordan and that meant having the same sneakers as him. Michael Jordan played a huge part in making Nike Jordans what they were then, and still are now, and I don't think there’s anything like that now. Maybe the Lebron range, but the sneakers are ugly!
SM: Future classics: We talked about the Flyknit before and how it seems like an instant classic. What makes this shoe so special and why do you like it from a design perspective?
SC: As I said before, the beauty of this shoe is the technology behind it. I own a pair of the Volt Racers, and they are an amazing piece of design to look at and wear. Comfortable, unique and Nike… what else do you want?
SM: Your personal choice: favorite decade and favorite shoe from that decade?
SC: If I had to pick a decade it would be the 70s, and my favorite shoe is probably the LD-1000. But the Cortez is very special too. And then there’s the Kenya Red, but I don’t like picking that one because the chances are I will never own a pair (reissue Nike?!). LD-1000, final choice.
SM: The most beautifully designed shoe ever?
SC: That's difficult. I just pick my sneakers based on looks and comfort, so the LD-1000 fits the bill on both of those. Then again I’m sure there was a problem with runners finding the wide sole unit difficult to run in when it was first released… so I guess the Cortez wins.
Visit Sneaker Magazine to read the full interview with Stephen Cheetham.