The Free Run iD Project

Hot on the heels of the recent Art & Sole Cortez iD project, last week saw the launch of the Intercity-curated Nike Free iD project at the gallery space within pop-up shopping mall Boxpark. Entitled Free Run iD: Designed by our Hopefuls, Illustrated by our Homegrown, the project saw Intercity commission a group of 11 East London artists to create a visual response to 11 athlete-designed Free iD shoes.

How will you make it count this year? 
This was the question posed to eleven of Nike's top track & field athletes, to inspire and initiate a thought process to custom design a pair of Nike Free Run+ iD shoes. To celebrate the recent release of the Free Run+ shoe on NIKEiD.com, athletes customised the silhouette to reflect not only their performance preferences, but also their inspirations and aspirations for the year ahead. These Nike Free Run+ iD designs then became the foundation for eleven local East London image-makers to create their individual responses.

The athlete/artist collaborations include:

Mo Farah/Lucas Dillon
Using Mo Farah’s Arsenal FC inspired Free iD colourway as a starting point, illustrator and graffiti artist Lucas Dillon created his image after watching a video of Farah in which he says ‘...doing everything I can to be the best and peak at the right time...’ It became apparent to Dillon that timing and training are extremely important to Farah, and so felt these would be the most appropriate themes to work with. Dillon decided to depict an egg training with an hour glass/egg timer in his hand, to convey the message that timing and practice are important to achieve the best end product (be it producing a perfectly cooked egg or winning a gold medal).

Martyn Rooney/Fran Marchesi
Fran Marchesi is an illustrator and designer specialising in hand rendered letterforms and screen printing. Based on Martyn Rooney’s ‘Black Everything’ Free iD colourway inspiration, Marchesi’s artwork is based on a quote from Rooney in which he sums up his ambition for 2012. The lettering uses both colour and texture from Rooney’s design.

Dai Greene/Esther McManus
Esther McManus is an illustrator, printmaker and a creator of comics. Her prints and drawings have a strong sense of narrative, and her stories are inspired by woodlands, folklore, sorcery and dreamscapes. The red dragon in her piece is inspired by Dai Greene’s ‘red of Wales’ Free iD colourway, and the athlete within the piece is running up and down hills, jumping over boulders and generally working hard in a reference to the undertaking of a challenge or quest.

Holly Bleasdale/Rob Flowers
The distinctive work of illustrator Rob Flowers has many influences; some of which include medieval bestiaries, Halloween, folklore and mythology, clowns, sideshows, circuses and toys from the 1980s. In order to reflect the ‘magical nature of flying through the air on the end of a long pole’, as well as the ‘almost supernatural’ technology of the sneakers, Flowers created the Nike Wizard - a magical character who floats over the vault with the same effortless ease as the pole vaulting athlete who inspired this shoe’s colourway, Holly Bleasdale.

Perri Shakes-Drayton/Matthew Bromley
Matthew Bromley is an illustrator who likes making things and skateboarding. He chose Perri Shakes-Drayton’s ‘Neat But Bold’ themed Free iD shoe to illustrate as he felt this description best suited his visual style. Bromley works with a limited palette, so using the shoe colours (Blue Glow, Total Orange and Black) was a perfect match for his work. The resulting artwork features a weird and wonderful character wearing Shakes-Drayton’s Free iD creations, set on a background featuring some of Bromley’s trademark elements, including a skull and brick wall.

Hannah England/Hugh Frost
Hugh Frost is a graphic artist and founder of arts publisher Landfill Editions. His image is based on athlete Hannah England’s love of colour and Crystal Palace, and also her physical preparation throughout the year in order to get ready for the summer. In Frost’s artwork, the trees change from winter to summer as England runs through an imagined Crystal Palace scene (including the famous concrete dinosaurs), leaving a colourful trail behind her.

Jodie Williams/Michael Willis
Michael Willis is an artist who combines bold imagery, psychedelic graphics and kitsch 1980s-inspired art to deliver a unique and modern twist on image making. Parallel to this, Willis also runs Panther Club, a publishing imprint and collaborative label that produces limited edition publications and curates unique projects with creative initiatives. The focal point of Willis’ artwork is Jodie Williams’ hand - a reference to the fact that the Free iD colourway she created was inspired by her lucky blue race-day nail varnish. The hand is also reaching, to reference Williams’ strive for achievement, and the items on the left refer to Williams balancing life, school and training.

Greg Rutherford/James Dawe
James Dawe is an illustrator and image-maker who specialises in contemporary photo-collage. Working both with digital and analogue techniques, Dawe interprets the everyday in a surreal and fantastical way. Inspired by athlete Greg Rutherford’s Superman themed Free iD design, Dawe has created an artwork based on the Fortress of Solitude crystal cave scene from the 1980 film Superman II. The scene includes rocks, crystals and comic book style graphic details.

Jack Green/Mr Gresty
Mr Gresty is a designer and printmaker whose work centers on a fascination with the English language, and an interest in the use of multiple meanings and general wordplay. For this artwork, Gresty wanted to convey athlete Jack Green’s confidence and strong self-belief. The typographic piece is made from words that might go through Green’s head towards the final stages of a race, as well as conveying his mid-race shaky vision. The colour of the piece represents both the Free iD designed by Green, and also the envy of other athletes as they watch his performance.

Jo Pavey/Dominic Owen
Dominic Owen is a freelance Illustrator and screen printer who likes to work with a wide range of materials and processes. His influences come from the worlds of music and culture, which inspire him to work in both 2D and 3D. Owen’s artwork is about emphasising the fact that athlete Jo Pavey has to build up to something completely new to her - a marathon. The graphic heart links to Pavey’s love of purple (the inspiration behind her Free iD colourway), and also refers to specific training she does to keep her heart rate high. The image also references the fact that Pavey likes to train by a canal in Devon.

Harry Aikines-Aryeetey/Ellie Andrews
Illustration student Ellie Andrews chose to use sections of a running track to create blocks of image and pattern within her artwork. This process created a montage of different viewpoints, including a close-up of athlete Harry Aikines-Aryeetey’s Free iD designs, which were inspired by the premise of ‘letting your feet do the talking’.

Intercity have also designed a limited edition book which documents all of the designs and artworks, as well as giving further insight into the project. The A5 book is printed on an uncoated paper (which displays the artwork) and features a smaller interleaved A6 book (which displays the shoes) printed on high gloss paper. This publication will be available from the NIKEiD Studio at Boxpark for customers designing the latest Nike Free Run+ iD.

As part of the project, we also asked Intercity/Art & Sole collaborator James Jarivs to create a hand-made piece of artwork in one of the vestibule entrances to the NIKEiD Studio (at the opposite end of the store to the Art & Sole Cortez iD image, entitled Beer, Waffles & Nuts, by Jiro Bevis). After unwittingly helping start the 'designer' toy phenomenon, James Jarvis co-founded Amos Novelties Limited in 2003, releasing almost 100 character toys, including the iconic King Ken and the mysterious and existential YOD. Jarvis has also written and drawn numerous cartoon strips and comics, including Vortigern's Machine and The Wisdom of Caleb in collaboration with Russell Waterman. In 2011 Jarvis published a graphic novel, De Profundis, the graphic style of which helped inspire his work created for the Free Run iD project.

In a slight twist on the athlete shoe-inspired artworks created by the other artists, the starting point for Jarvis was to create his very own Free iD shoe colourway - and as with the athletes, it had to be something that would reflect his inspirations and aspirations for the year ahead. Jarvis explains: 'The inspiration behind my Free iD colourway was the Dutch artistic movement, De Stijl. These artists 'advocated pure abstraction and universality by a reduction to the essentials of form and colour'. This is a philosophy I have drawn from recently in defining my own language of cartoons, and particularly in the artwork I am making here, which is based on a literal interpretation of ‘making things count’. 

The in-situ artwork was created during the opening of the Free Run iD exhibition, with Jarvis using both paint brush and airbrush to achieve the desired effect. Both the artwork and the Jarvis-designed shoes which inspired it will be on display at the NIKEiD Studio, Boxpark.

Thanks again to all the artists involved in the Free Run iD project.
To see the artworks in person visit the Boxpark gallery throughout April 2012.
The Intercity-designed limited edition book will also be available from the NIKEiD Studio at Boxpark for customers designing the latest Nike Free Run+ iD