Air Max turns 25 this year, and Nike has invited a cadre of artists to create odes to the shoe.

They include Matt Stevens, the designer whose book about the shoe, MAX100, was funded on Kickstarter in 2011.

Bruno Drummond and Gemma Tickle created a paper model of abstracted Air Max shapes.

Then they photographed the results.

Samy Coldy treats the subject with airbrushed, atmospheric renderings.

Animator Matt Box chose watercolors.

And an iterative process.

Rosy Nicholas’s piece is a beautiful, Memphis-esque architectural model.

Nicholas at work.

Illustrator Oscar Bolton Green’s pictograph-like ink drawings were inspired by the Air Max’s iconic air bubble.

Meanwhile, Matt Stevens has released a plethora of drawings devoted to Air Max and its offspring.

Like his MAX 100 drawings, the images are visual one-liners that usually reference an era or city.

Like his MAX 100 drawings, the images are visual one-liners that usually reference an era or city.

Like his MAX 100 drawings, the images are visual one-liners that usually reference an era or city.

Like his MAX 100 drawings, the images are visual one-liners that usually reference an era or city.

Like his MAX 100 drawings, the images are visual one-liners that usually reference an era or city.

Like his MAX 100 drawings, the images are visual one-liners that usually reference an era or city.

Like his MAX 100 drawings, the images are visual one-liners that usually reference an era or city.

Co.Design

6 Odes To The Air Max, The Cool Kid’s Nike

Nike asked six artists and designers to enhance the hipster aura around the Air Max, which turns 25 this year.

Matt Stevens is really, really into Nike’s Air Max sneakers. You might say they’re his muse—the Smith to his Mapplethorpe, the Flöge to his Klimt. You think that’s going too far? Stevens, a designer based in Charlotte, raised more than $40,000 on Kickstarter two years ago to finance the creation of MAX100, a book of 100 illustrations of what he calls "the greatest shoe of all time."

Air Max turns 25 this year, making it roughly of age with the cohort that brought it back to popularity. To celebrate its birthday and its unofficial status as the hipster’s Nike, the brand invited several artists—including Stevens—to "do art stuff" to the shoe. Stevens’ contribution is a series of clever illustrations on par with his MAX100 work. The ten drawings are characteristically full of puns and references, just like the drawings in his book.

Meanwhile, in London, Nike is staging Air Max Reinvent, an exhibit of five artists who were invited to render the shoe however they like. The amazing watercolorist and animator Matt Box contributed, along with Bruno Drummond and Gemma Tickle. Rosy Nicholas’s piece is a beautiful, Memphis-esque architectural model. Illustrator Oscar Bolton Green takes the iconic air bubble as a jumping off point for a series of pictograph-like ink drawings, while Samy Coldy treats the subject with airbrushed, atmospheric renderings.

Sure, it’s easy to cry sell-out here, with artists and brands fraternizing especially close together. But on the other hand, for many of the artists here this is fantastic exposure, and many of their contributions are interesting beyond their association with shoes.

See the show until March 31 at Hoxton Arches.

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