Before he started with shoes, Los Angeles-based sneaker artist and designer Troy Cole first got his nickname Kickasso by painting shoes on canvas, inspired by his favourite artist Picasso. Now, having found online fame, thanks mostly to social media, his client list includes the who’s who of American athletes and Hollywood stars including Paul Rudd, Michael B Jordan and rapper T.I.
Launching Kickasso Kustoms with his wife, Cole now customises everything from a $10,000 (Dh36,726) shoe to a $20 slipper, as well as apparels, sporting gear and accessories, which all sells on his website.
Cole, who’s never travelled outside of the US, will be in the UAE on July 11 and 12, at the opening of the new Reebok store in The Dubai Mall, and offer sneaker-heads and fashion enthusiasts the opportunity to customise their Reebok sneakers for free.
Ahead of his trip, he spoke to Gulf News tabloid! about his art and all the places he’d like it to take him:
Q: Hello Troy, welcome to Dubai. What are you most looking forward to during your stay here?
A: I’m looking forward to visiting a foreign country, I’ve never been outside of the US and Dubai is one of the coolest cities in the world. I’ve been Googling to see everything. Working with Reebok is huge. They’re one of the world’s biggest brands and we are collaborating to launch their store in the world’s biggest Mall- I’m really excited.
Q: Tell us the story: How did you go from customising cars to sneakers?
A: Was an easy transition. I sold my body shop and it gave me time to plan what to do next. I always loved shoes and art so I just put them together and I’m loving being able to mix my passions together I’ve always loved designing new things and this is the perfect way to do that.
Q: When was the first time you realised you had an artistic streak?
A: I loved to draw and make art as long as I can remember. It allows you to see more and learn more and keep being creative.
Q: You’ve got a large celebrity client list? How did it all begin?
A: Instagram in all honesty. It just seemed to take off form there with followers growing and the requests coming from social media and shares online.
Q: Sneaker culture is still booming around the world? Is that good news for you or does that mean more competition?
A: It’s great news. I only like to compete with myself as that way I’m always improving. No designs are the same so there is always room to improve. It’s about creating something unique to the individual and if they’re happy then of course I am happy too.
Q: Take us through your creative process — from idea to execution.
A: It’s different for every project because it’s about understanding what the person wants and what is important to them. I would say the process can vary between 2 to 10 hours though.
Q: Do you have a team of artists working with you now? Or do you still do everything yourself?
A: It’s all me on the art side of things, my wife runs the day to day and customer service.
Q: What are some of the future plans for Kickasso?
A: I want to be a global collaborator so coming to Dubai which is one of the biggest and most popular places in the world is something that really excites me and I hope I can be back again to visit soon.
Don’t miss it!
Kickasso will be at the new Reebok store in The Dubai Mall on July 11 and 12 between 6 to 9pm. Entry is free.