After coming across his ‘Game Changers’ Basketball Shoes Commemorative Stamps project that honored some of footwear’s greatest hits, we got in touch with artist Dan Cole to find out about this dope project, what drives his work, and what it’s like being a sneakerhead and designer living so close to Nike HQ. Check out the project and our interview with Dan below!
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, WHERE ARE YOU FROM AND WHERE DO YOU GO TO SCHOOL?
I grew up in Ashland Oregon and have been living in Portland for the past six years. I started my Design education at The Art Institute of Portland and I studied Industrial Design where I really fell in love with the style of sketching that comes with ID. I left The Art Institute and almost moved out of state but Portland wouldn’t let me go. I’m currently attending Portland State working on my BA in graphic design. I see a lot of cross over between the two fields, but at first graphic design was a real challenge for me because the objective of most projects is communication which is very opened ended compared to ID where you are creating objects that must function in the world.
DO YOU THINK LIVING IN THE SAME CITY AS NIKE HQ HAS INFLUENCED YOUR LOVE FOR SNEAKERS?
I have always loved shoes but as I got into ID sketching, the sneaker culture and proximity to Nike and Adidas has defiantly helped me to stay motivated to up my game. I have had to go out to the Nike campus on a few occasions all of which have been very inspiring.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PAIR OF SNEAKERS?
It’s so hard to choose but If I had to wear one pair for the rest of my life it would have to be the Jordan 1. I’m a big fan of the classic Chicago colorway. Most of the shoes I own are high tops and the Jordan 1 is just so basic and unique at the same time.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DO THE COMMEMORATIVE STAMP SNEAKER SERIES?
After working really hard on lots of type centered work for school and I wanted to do something really illustrative. I had been drawing/rendering shoes for a few years but I hadn’t ever tried to recreate any classics. It was hard to choose what shoes to use for my stamps so I went with ones that really stuck out to me when I was younger and that I still see people rocking today.
I wanted to highlight some of the details that stuck out to me on each shoe then I used the neon color pallet to make it graphically cohesive. Color really helped to give the piece a life of its own and the feeling that it was a throw back.
WHERE DO YOU YOUR ARTISTIC INSPIRATION FROM?
I’m heavily influenced by fashion and of course the work of the other great designers who are around me. Portland is one of those cities that is packed full of talent it really pushes you to work harder and try to push the limits of what you can do. Another element of the city that never ceases to amaze me is Portland’s diverse collection of vintage beer signs and packaging which is always awesome for inspiration.
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE AS AN ARTIST/DESIGNER?
I think taking risks and just having faith that it will work out is part of what I love about design but also what makes it a real test of my commitment. I tend to go all in on ideas rather than backing off because its how I grow the most. That being said, almost every project has that moment when your half way done and something just isn’t working. I try to listen to my work, and when something doesn’t fit no matter how much you want it to, knowing when to let go and move on is key.
WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL AS AN ARTIST/DESIGNER OR DREAM PROJECT?
I would be very happy to work with a team of designers who really want to push the limits and take risks finding new solutions. But more specifically my dream would be to design shoes. Footwear represents the perfect mix of technical constraints and design flexibility to me and it’s been my ultimate goal to be a part of that world.
HOW HAS THE INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCED YOUR DESIGN STYLE AND CONTENT?
Trying to avoid falling prey to trends while making work that is current can be a challenge. I feel like the internet has given us amazing ways to access information but it’s almost paralyzing at times because everything has kind of been done and probably done really well. Ignorance can be a great thing because it allows you to stop being so critical and just make shit happen without feeling like you’re ripping off someone else’s style.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT SO FAR?
My favorite project was a sustainable packaging solution I created. The idea was originally developed for a beer packaging competition, but then adapted for coffee branding. The idea was to make a package for a six pack of cans that could also be carried or attached to a bike while also being backyard compostable, re-usable and cost effective to make.
Made of canvas and chipboard, the strap also serves to hold the chipboard in shape avoiding the use of glue or fasteners. I’m proud of the simplicity and utility that the concept brings to the table. I really want to take it to the next level at some point in the future and either bring the idea to market or give it to the DIY community for free. I have to say the best part has been using it for the last few months and never having to use a backpack when I ride my bike.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE FROM YOU NEXT?
This next year I’m really going to be focusing on getting through school and doing my best work along the way. I want to bring more illustration into my work. Beyond my education I will continue to develop concepts for shoes. Right now I’m working on a shoe inspired by the Airmax 90 and I’m really excited to see how it comes out.
LASTLY, HOW CAN WE FOLLOW YOUR WORK?
My website www.danielgcole.com
BIG THANKS TO DAN FOR TAKING THE TIME TO TALK SHOP WITH US! WANT TO GET FEATURED ON DOPAMINE36? HIT US UP!