Nike Dunk 'Be True' Interview – Michael Leon
A continuation from yesterday’s beginning to our preview to Nike’s ‘Be True’ project, which looks at the Dunk as an iconic shoe in the history of Nike, Basketball, Skateboarding and Sneaker Cultures. Again, as with Jesse, Michael is located in Portland, Oregon at Nike’s WHQ, after years of design history within the Skateboard industry, Michael is now an Art director at Nike, one of the men famous for creating the Tech Pack. His past includes some hugely popular projects with numerous skateboard companies, and art shows! I spoke with Michael about the Dunk and the way he see’s the shoe impacting him. Remember there is much more to come. This is just a preview of whats to follow.
Name: Michael Leon.
Where you’re from: North Carolina.
Where you’re at: Portland, OR
Occupation: Art director of apparel at Nike.
What makes the dunk special?
The Dunk is special to me because of my memories of skateboarding when I was younger. That was kind of my first connection to Nike because of being a skateboarder. Wearing that shoe, the people who I saw wearing it who I looked up to, and just kind of the way it got appropriated into that world way before it had the status it has today–when it was just a basketball shoe and it was really like freshly appropriated into that world. Just one pair of Nike basketball shoes was the best skateboarding shoe and would last forever. Just the cupped sole and the durability of the materials–it just changed the way shoes are made. It’s a happy accident.
Do you have a specific creative process?
Like meditative, alone time, like that type of thing. I am not really a team sports type of person. I love working with a team on graphics and projects for sure, but there is something about the headspace that design and art kind of gives you. I just enjoy that time.
How does the statement “Be True” relate to what you do?
I know that I can design a cool t-shirt but it’s like how long do you want to just design cool t-shirts, you know? So I think for me it was just like what do I graduate to, where can I go how can I take a certain skill set and bring it into a bigger picture and maybe influence something that’s bigger than just me sitting at a desk.
What’s your favorite Dunk and why?
The greatest pair of Dunks is the Destroyer Dunk because it’s the only one I designed (laughs). No I really like that one. I remember just paying attention to when it came out, reading blogs and people were excited about it and being like, “oh cool,” seeing your work come to life.
You’re a biking enthusiast, do you think biking will be the next skateboarding?
Sport is something that happens along the way. The problem with that is people have so much access to information right now that, like, that organic-ness of something like skateboarding building over years and years can go from zero to totally blown out in a matter of a day. It’s like everything is so connected. If people like it, it will escape, someone else will adopt it and you won’t own it in a matter of time. But it just seems like with the Dunk it just keeps coming back and keeps coming back. It never dies, I don’t know what it is, it’s pretty amazing.