Wednesday, August 22, 2007
2000 words: ground ball, state your name and your game and where you represent?
C2: Chris Hui, 17 years old. Sneaker customizer from Milwaukee, WI
2000 words: how long have you been doing customs for, and what got ya started into it
C2: Oh man, got to take a minute to think here. I'm guessing Ive been going at it for about four years now. Crazy to think about that. Searching through KO.net wayyy back in the day, one of Prof. Ks reviews, I think Adidas The Kobe, linked me to Niketalk. I came across the post of the first, and only, Niketalk custom contest. It really sparked my interest the more I read into what "customizing" really was because I was always good at art and was big into sneakers.
2000 words: you'd be surprised how many people mention that contest
C2: Yea man, a significant time for customizing. Without that, possibly no SBTG, and many others....
2000 words: but yet i can never find any pics from it, you just remember how far ahead of the curve sbtg was compared to everyone else's work
C2: Ha, I got some of them saved on an older PC. I clearly remember SBTG catching some heat for the laces he used. But yea, that was a completely new look to what people were putting out then.
C2: I remember Skywalker, at least I think it was him, won that contest with some Dunk Lows, Denim heel and toe panels, with a plastic Jordan IV mid panel. I don't know if you remember those.
2000 words: i mean, he was one of the earliest people doin his thing, and then he just vanished.
C2: Ha. Yea man, who knows...I never saw too much of his work. I know he was around the same time of KVN and a few others.
2000 words: yeah, i loved his work, kvn always had somethin cool.
C2: Yea man, hes still quitely at it too. What i always loved about him is he did it for himself first
2000 words: yeah, he always customized something in his size which was like a 14 or something crazy. what can you say was the first customs you did for yourself.
C2: Ha. My first personal customs were a pair of Nike Cortez. They where originally all white w/ a black swoosh. I painted the swoosh a bright Carolina blue and added black zebra strips. Looked pretty cool at first, but eventually it all cracked and chipped off. At that time there wasn't much knowledge of working prep or paint methods
2000 words:i think everyones first custom falls apart, now that being your first shoe, what do you think was your first shoe that people took notice and put you on peoples radar?
C2: Ahh. There are a few I could put there. But I always feel that my Air Max 95 Dunk Highs (Grey Gradient w/ green swoosh) were the originals to put my name out there. They were made for Ty, go figure. They were displayed at Soled Out NYC along with two other pairs of mine. They received a lot of good feedback on Niketalk and ISS at the time and Im pretty sure the shows had a good turnout as well.
2000 words: those are pretty dope, personally i was thinking it was supreme dunk lows (stars and crocs). i just remember you posting a pair in a variety of colors. you must have made alot of orders of those.
C2: HA. Thats def another one. Those came a little bit later. Those were a much bigger hit. Im totally sick of the design because of how many pairs Ive made. Still get requests and orders for them to date...
2000 words: good grief, do you ever turn people down? whether its the design has had its run, or anything thats just not worth the time?
C2: The Supreme Lows, The Air Max 95 Dunk Highs, and The Air Tech Challenge Air Force Ones I feel are my best signature models, in terms of popularity and association to the C2 name. All those get requests constantly and most of the time I do turn it down. Theres always exceptions of course. Money def can be a factor to whether or not I do a repeat custom. Friends or long time customers I will always take care of as well.
2000 words:speaking of long customers, you do alot of work with Ty of leaders. how did that relationship start?
C2: ISS Chicago Summit 2004? Some time around there...Anyway the summit group was making stops at all the Chicago shops. We made our way over to PHLI, where Ty worked at the time. I was wearing all black, crocked out Air Trainer Is. Ty saw them and immediately told me he'd be in contact with me soon. I think the first customs I did for him were those Dunk Highs...
2000 words: now, thats just the tip of the iceberg with a succession of hits that came after. when you collaborate with him, is it more like "hey i got an idea, or does he come to you, or maybe do you meet in the middle and improve on his idea?
C2: Ha. It has happened every way possible. Ty obviously has good taste, so when he tells me hes got an idea, I usually get pretty hyped because I know its gonna be hot. However, so many times, I come home to packages from him and he just tells me to do whatever comes to mind. The cool thing about it all with Ty is sometimes it could be as simple as painting the swoosh black. He never goes over the top with requests which is common in the customizing business.
2000 words:theres quite a few gucci inspired work in your collaborations, wheres do that come from?
C2: Ha. The Stan Smiths were all Ty's idea. Gucci has a model that is almost an exact replica of the Adidas Stan Smith. Ty just wanted something similar that was easier on the wallet, but at the same time was unique and retained the classic "Gucci" feel and look. As far as the P-Rods, that is another case where he let me do what I wanted. I was on the fence about adding the "Gucci" striping because the P-Rod monogram is more similar to LV, not gucci.
C2: I didn't want to cross the look and feel of the two designer brands, if you can understand what I mean. In the end, I went with it, and was satisfied with the overall look.
2000 words: i know exactly what you mean, like those prods with the colored logos like the fruity lvs. i think was atc?
C2: Yea man, exactly. The P-Rod, although it is a skating shoe which is traditionally a more rugged shoe, has a certain classy look to it. So I think both me and ATC did a good job bringing out the luxurious look and appeal of the P-Rod models.
2000 words: there a quite a few sneaker artists out there these days compared to when you started, with all these new "artists", do you feel like sometimes their designs are too similar to a pair of yours or not?or even nike and the rest of the big dogs, because i see some shoes being produced today that def have a "customs" feel to it
C2: Ha. To be honest I haven't seen many people with similar work to mine. I know Mache has a few pairs which are designs of mine. And of coarse I see Supreme Lows all the time, but I cant take credit for that design. However, when you bring up Nike, I would def say at times it bother me to see what they put out. Not that I feel they bite other customizers designs per say, but that they don't do more to support customizers. Give more people the opportunity Sabotage had.
C2: Ive been fortunate to work with Nike on one occasion, and it was amazing. I just wish it would happen more often, to more people. Hire customizers as designers, so many people have a better concept of design than the people at Nike.
C2: And thats speaking generally, and more directly towards recent releases. Of coarse Nike in specific has put out amazing stuff in the past. But when I see a campaign like Air Force XXV, its really disappointing to see the product they put out.
2000 words: how was your experience with Nike, and what came from it?
C2: Ty set a lot of it up for me actually. Midwest Nike Basketball Marketing contacted me about painting at a showcase they were having in Indiana in last year. It was all last minute stuff, pretty hectic to organize and get everything set for the show. I was pretty skeptical about everything, I wasn't expecting much out of a show in Indiana. However, I trusted Nike knew what they were doing. Nike flew me out, set up a limo for the airport, all inclusive hotel stay, etc. The whole nine.
2000 words:live customs?
C2: I was really really impressed with how well they took care of me. In addition, I was payed for my time and work. Plus, the showcase was actually really impressive. It was at a local shop called Deveroes, and so many samples were there. It was unbelievable.
C2: Yea man, just live painting on a pair of all white AF1s for four hours.
C2: Id never painted live before plus it was like 100+ outside and the place was packed, so I was sweating bullets. LOL. Overall, I really enjoyed painting live.
2000 words: when we left off you were telling me about that nike event has nike contacted you about any future projects or collabs?
C2: unfortunately no, nothing new from those guys. Haven't talked to my contact from the event since
2000 words: sbtg worked with nike sb, meth with dc, what do you think is holding other sneaker companies back from working with sneaker customizers like yourself and others?
C2: I feel it is the name. People know SBTG, people know Meth. They both have an amazing portfolio of work they have developed through the years. In the process, both developed their name as a brand, and now whatever is associated with that name turns to marketing goal. I personally believe there are many other people who could have the same success based on their work, but they are missing the marketing.
C2:now whatever is associated with that name turns to marketing gold*
2000 words:like Methamphibian Mountain Dew?
C2: ha. exactly. I don't drink mountain dew, but seriously, if i came across a Meth x Mountain Dew can at 7 eleven, i'm buying it. LOL
2000 words:yeah i havent seen em anywhere yet, id def do the same. its a whole artist series but i havent seen any yet
2000 words: your portfolio includes alot of collabs with stores in diff. cities, what future collabs do you have planned that you could mention, whether its what stores, celebs, or other artists?
C2: Yea man. A lot of stuff planned, we will have to see what really happens. I do plan to eventually work with Leaders1354. Whether that would be simply selling my shoes there or creating a Leaders exclusive custom, I don't know yet. I will be creating some Leaders hats and tees in the near future. In addition, I may be working with Dave Jeff across town at PHLI.
C2: Lastly, me and Imag4ever plan to work on a set of customs, similar to the run SBTG and Meth originally dropped.
2000 words:oh wow, what can we expect from that?
C2: Ha, I dont know. If me and G really get things going, the possibilities are endless
C2: Oh, and also, there may be more work for Lupe, forgot to throw that in there
2000 words: i heard TY is Lupe's stunt double, any truth to that rumor?
C2: Ha. Man, I don't know what Lupe and Tys relationship is. Ty is the original one who set me up with Lupe at Sneaker Pimps last year in Chicago.
2000 words: that must have been an incredible experience
C2: As far as stunt double...Ty's a pretty low key guy, I cant picture him filling in for Lu at a show or event. LOL
C2: You know what, at that time, Food and Liquor hadn't dropped. So the only music of Lupe's I heard was kick push. It was awesome meeting him, but after I really listened to his music, it was sooo much cooler.
C2: Neat story though, last month, Lu was in Milwaukee for Summerfest, the worlds largest music festival, and he really took care of me there, got me backstage, i chilled in his dressing room with him before the show and after. Got to watch the show from the stage with his crew. And he signed my St. Alfreds x Lupe fiasco shirt too. So it was a good night
2000 words: thats awesome, what was his dressing room like, anything noteworthy?
C2: man, not as luxurious as you'd think. The stage is temporary, so everything backstage was pretty small. The cool thing back there was just being in there with him, hearing the crowd outside chanting his name like crazy, I look around, its me, his manager, his dj, his co-singer, and him. And whats Lu doing...taking extra time to pick out his outfit. LOL, I'm like man, they cant wait much longer
C2: As far as what was in there, just candy, a vege platter, red bull, bottled water, a couch, a few chairs, and a bathroom. All pretty cramped up too.
2000 words: hmmm sneakerpimps is a great outlet for people to get their work out there. that was the first time i personally got to see some amazing custom shoes in my hand( i know you arent supposed to touch em, but i had to). I've seen some other shoes there that were more art then customs. because you obviously couldn't wear em. now recently ive seen some guy getting some major press for making some interesting customs that look like you can wear em, but cant due to their delicateness. now whats your stance on shoes like that, and how do you feel about this guy getting all this press for something alot of people do better like yourself.
C2: Personally, I was always into functional shoes. Even just my sneakers I own in general, I dont collect sneakers, I wear all my stuff. So then that translates to my work, I always want my work to be wearable: in two ways. Of coarse I'm going to only put out a shoe that can stand up to physical wear, but I also focus on making my designs desirable for someone to wear. I can respect people who take the time to make shoes more into works of art to collect or display, but personally,
C2: Id rather see someone wearing my stuff in some WDYWT thread on the internet.
C2: As far as press goes, I feel I personally get a good amount of press, but I know a lot of people who deserve it and just don't get any. Like I said earlier, theres two parts to make it BIG, the quality of work and the marketing
2000 words: when you were in complex, did you see more traffic?
C2: Actually, not as much as you'd think. That is without a doubt my favorite of the C2 media. I think the problem was, there was no direct link by either of the two pages that featured my work. There was a link listed, but in a different section, it is just how complex sets up their mag.
C2: Surprisingly, the most successful print media for me was the Sneakerfreaker comp from wayyy back.
C2: : More people find me from there than Slam, Complex, or Time. LOL
2000 words: amazing how things work out, on a side note
isn't it disappointing like you mentioned before the AF1 25th anniversary compared to what adidas did with their 35th for the superstar.
C2: Mos def. Im not sure what Nike had planned. A lot of the City Series stuff is completely unrelated to that city except for a skyline or name on the shoe. No artist collabs I can think of. The new and old six stuff was overpriced. I dont know man, it was just wayyyy too much average stuff at above average prices. The coolest thing from the 25th anniv of the AF1 was the SC issue and the custom contest.
2000 words: yeah def, besides that issue nike dropped the ball hard.
i cant even believe how amazing each adidas shoe was, the artists, the stores, the licenses,the uniqueness of each pair.
C2: yea man, i missed out personally on that entire set. but looking back, it was something pretty cool.
2000 words:i think thats all i need, any shout outs or props to give?
C2: Ha. man, i dont know theres a bunch of people to give props to. Of coarse big ups to my closer guys, Ty, Steez, Pete Fahey at SneakerPimps along with the rest of the heads in the Midwest. Props to all the other customizers out there pushing me to better my work with each pair.
C2: Thanks to you too, of course for taking the time to talk.
2000 words: words for the world?
C2: i just always want people to know its more than just putting paint on shoes, thats how you separate yourselves from the rest.