When Sneakers Make A Difference
Every so often we get mail from young up and coming sneaker heads who want to know about how to open sneaker stores, or if they can intern at Sneaker Freaker (unbeknownst to them we are on the other side of the world). Once in a while we have a “Dangerous Minds” moment, where the movie plot goes as follows; young kid emails their favourite magazine, explains how such magazine has inspired their class to use their vision in a creative format. Said magazine gushes with pride, returns email and invites student to submit a pictorial story to show the world just who is the “world’s best sneaker boogazine”. Magazine then publishes said pictorial story, the school gets props worldwide, inspirational rap song by current hip hop sensation swells and many a high five ensures! With thanks to Talia M. and her teacher, sneaker freaker Mr. S. along with photographer Eric Steinberg, we proudly show why we are indeed the best of the best!
Students at my school, Ward Melville High School participated in a project inspired by Sneaker Freaker. It all started when Mr. Swierupski, known as Mr. S, brought in the Sneaker Freaker book. All the kids checked out the unique sneakers and decided that a sneaker project was in order. Next came demos by Mr. S, like how to tape off areas of the shoe and how to use letter stickers to create colored words. Then everyone brought in their own pair of plain sneakers, whether they were Nikes, Converse, or Adidas, and treated it like a clear canvas. With paint, paint pens, and spray paint available in a variety of bright and metallic colors, each student came up with their own original design, hoping they would hear Mr. S’s catch phrase, “Yeaaaa, nobody’s got that!”
Some students just revamped the colors in their shoes or painted a cartoon character or symbol, but other artistic kids had graffiti art or their own original drawing. Fueled by the sick designs in SNKR FRKR magazine, some students took their shoe production to the next level by bringing in new fabrics. Many kids put great effort in detail, such as Corinne R., who brought in fabric and cut, glued, and pressed in pieces of it to cover the Nike Swoosh and other areas of her shoe. Then she accented the shoe with old paint, to compliment the gold thread in part of her fabric. The result was a new shoe, completely different from the plain white ones she started with. Another student, Rob G. used different color paint pens to create an eye-catching image on his shoe. One shoe reads ‘Rob’ in graffiti and the other shoe reads ‘Big.’
All of the kicks, displayed in a case outside the classroom with a graffiti sign drawn by Mr. S reading ‘Sneaker Freaker,’ drew much attention from other students. “I think it’s a great project. It’s a great way for students to express their creativity,” says Jose R., a senior at Ward Melville. The project is definitely a good way for the students to express creativity, and it's probably the first time that sneaker production has been a graded class project.
Yes, this project is taken seriously, and each student has to fill out an evaluation sheet when they are done that basically describes how detailed they were in their project and what materials they used, as well as if they brought in their own extra stuff. It is clear that this is one special class, and all of us kids are grateful for Mr, S, knowing he brings in innovative ideas and then the little bit of hope that we will leave with our own personalized merchandise. “This project is sick, I wish I was doing it. All the shoes are coming out so crazy. I’m definitely taking this crafts class next year,” says Justine M., a junior at Ward Melville. This project shows the hard work, creativity, fun, and gratification that comes from designing a sneaker, and has created an entire class of new generation Sneaker Freakers.
Essay by Talia M.
Photos by Erick Steinberg