An Interview with Dan Freebairn of Kick Posters

This weekend sees the opening of the Sneakersnstuff Projects at Sneakerness Paris. As a special treat for those of you that can make it down we have collaborated with the super talented illustrator and popular Instagrammer Kick Posters (Dan Freebairn) to produce a limited edition poster. The poster features every sneaker project we have worked on over the years. We fired over a few questions to the man himself to get the low down on his creative process and thoughts on how social media plays a roll in today’s sneaker industry.

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Could you talk us through the process of illustrating a pair of sneakers. Do you sketch first or go straight to the computer?

Once I started illustrating kicks I would start by drawing them before scanning them into the computer. However, as I got better at using the software, I quickly worked out I could jump straight onto the Mac, saving me a load of time. In terms of the actual process, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s important to have high quality images to work from. Once you have that image, it’s easier to recreate the silhouette as well as pull out all the little details, such as stitching and textures and materials.

What software do you use?

Adobe Creative Suite… Illustrator mainly, but there are times where I may need the tools in Photoshop to execute the textured upper of a shoe.

Technically which has been the most difficult sneaker to draw?

That’s a tough question… I don’t know if I can pick just one. The models with knitted uppers are always challenging, especially if they also feature a pattern such as the Multicolor Flyknit Racers, Glitch Camo NMDs… or all the fine lines on the NMD City Sock and adidas x Parley shoes. It can be very time consuming getting the print/knit perfect but make the pieces ten times better once complete.

The attention to detail on a lot of the sneakers you draw is clearly very high, how long does each illustration take to complete?

It obviously varies depending on how much detail is going into each piece. I’ve turned some around real quick to get images out on social fast, but on average I’d say 1-2 hours. Following that, unless I’m looking to start from scratch and illustrate the shoe from a new angle or add new details, once I have the outline done I can easily switch up the fill to create new colorways.

Your Instagram account is very reaction based, it acts similar to that as a forum or social media group. What role do you think social media plays in the sneaker landscape in 2016?

I like to ask my following questions, not only does this build interaction with my page but I can also get a feel of what my audience want to see. That helps me create better content and build my following further. The bigger following I have the more people I have looking at my work and potentially buying my posters. Because of Instagram I’ve been able to connect and work with so many people/brands I used to dream of working with! Plus, I wouldn’t sell as many posters (or even sell them at all) as KickPosters.com launched of the back of my Instagram following. In terms of the industry, it has it’s pros and cons… a lot of people will say it builds too much hype and so on, but thankfully the positives out way the negatives in my eyes. For example we’re only a few swipes away from finding where, when and how we can buy the shoes we want, news spreads quickly so you’ll never miss new announcements & releases. It’s also a great place to find inspiration. But most importantly we can connect with like minded people who share the same passion for sneakers and creativity.

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Which of your illustrations have received the largest response and do you think that is down to how hype the model is?

The ‘hyped’ sneakers always make the most noise in terms of comments and likes, but when it comes down to my posters the most popular designs are the ‘Collection’ prints which feature multiple shoes. My 2015 Assorted Sneaker Print is one of the best selling, as are the Yeezy Collection Print and the History of Air Max Print.

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The Sneakersnstuff x Kick Posters ‘The Projects’ poster will be available exclusively this weekend at Sneakerness Paris. Head here for all the details of the event.

For more on Kick Posters head to his website and follow on Instagram.

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