An interview with Troy ‘Kickasso’ Cole

Reebok has launched its first-ever Fit Hub 3.0 store in the UAE, on the first floor of Dubai Mall in front of the mall’s popular ice-rink.

Celebrating the launch, Reebok has collaborated with one of the most influential artists in sports and culture right now; the notorious sneaker artist, Troy Cole, commonly known as Kickasso: modern day Picasso, and founder of Kickasso Kustoms. Cole will jet in all the way from Los Angeles on Thursday 11 th July and Friday 12 th July, between 6:00pm till 9:00pm to offer sneaker-heads and fashion enthusiasts the opportunity to customize their Reebok sneakers for free.

Having worked with the world’s most famous athletes including David Beckham, Dwyane Wade and Chris Johnson, Kickasso’s outstanding talent offers unique and eye-catching designs which standout in the street. Whether it’s an old pair of Classic Club Cs or a fresh pair of the recently launched Aztrek Reebok fans will have the opportunity to reinvent their favourite Reebok sneakers to become one of a kind.

The newly launched store will also showcase a select number of Reebok Classic Leather, Club C and Aztrek sneakers pre-designed by Kickasso retailing 1,100 aed to 4,400 aed for collectors, sneakerheads, Reebok fans and art enthusiasts to purchase. The paintings on the shoes were inspired by the artist’s interpretation and perception of the Middle East and Dubai lifestyle.

Troy “Kickasso” Cole spoke to in an exclusive interview on sneaker customisation, upcoming artists and superheroes.

Q: Thanks so much for taking time time out to rap with us. What can you tell us about the Reebok collab, and what are your plans for the brand going forward?

TC: This collab with Reebok is a new personal milestone. It gives me the chance to expose my art to a new demographic; I have never been to the UAE before and this will give me the opportunity to meet the people of Dubai and experience its vibrant culture for the first time.

While designing the Reebok Club Cs and Classic Leather my research of the region gave me inspiration to take my work in a new direction. Hopefully this collaboration would lead to more projects with Reebok in the future.

Q: What’s the most expensive sneaker you’ve messed with?

TC: I painted several pairs of Nike Air Mag Elite.

Q: Is there a “holy-grail” sneaker that you think is perfect as it is – and you wouldn’t touch?

TC: While sneakers have always been the canvas for my work, I believe that art such as mine can be added onto anything!

Q: If you were to design a mass-market sneaker from any existing brand and silhouette, which would it be and what would you do to it? And what would you price it at?

TC: I’ve had the chance to work with most of the leading sneaker brands and Reebok is the latest I have the opportunity to work with, however I’ve designed and created my own sneaker, the K_o1. They are priced at $150.

Q: A lot of your designs are asymmetrical and differ across the left and right pairs of shoes do you feel this form of design is better than the traditional mirrored design?

TC: It is difficult to make an exact mirrored image when the design is hand painted. That’s why I like to be creative and create two different designs for each pair. I wouldn’t mind the designs being mirrored if they were mass produced.

Q: What are the three sneakers in your collection that you consider your personal flagships?

TC: My K_o1 shoe, because I designed it from scratch, my Kaws Air Force 1s and bespoke AirMax one that I designed with Nike, and now as I expand my work with other brands such as Reebok, I look forward to adding more to my personal flagship collection.

Q: You have a pretty cool gig – but if you were to give up art and do anything else in the world, what would it be and why?

TC: I would love to coach youth football. I really enjoy working with the youth and helping the next generation thrive.

Q: We spotted a custom Toy Story design on your insta. Have you seen the official BAIT X Reebok Instapump Fury mock-ups? What are your thoughts on them?

TC: I like them, I’ve been doing that design since 2015.

Image via Sneaker News

Q: We hear you will be creating custom designs at the store opening – what designs can we expect and in what ways has the Middle East and its culture inspired you to create this art?

TC: All I can say at this point is that the designs will be colorful and very limited.

Q: What are the basic tools needed in a sneaker customising starter-kit. For those out here inspired to do so.

TC: Paint, airbrush, paintbrushes, canvas.

Q: Are there any up and coming artists/designers that caught your eye that you would recommend we check out?

TC: I’m a big fan of Kai.

Q: Lastly, and non-sneaker related: You’ve done custom kicks with several superheroes. You’re obviously a superhero geek so here’s an optional question: Who would win, Batman or Black Panther – and why?

TC: Joker HA HA HA