This time, you’re not going to read a story about a sneakerhead, this week the story is about an artist that had the opportunity of signing his own Air Jodan 1. Pomb is an illustrator from Brasilia that moved to São Paulo looking to make a living out of his personal work. Suddenly, an email from Nike global headquarters brought him the opportunity of a lifetime.
Pomb designed his own Air Jordan 1 from the Los Primeiros pack, one of 4 sneakers made to celebraty latin heritage. From the illustration to the materials themselves!
“My name is Thales but people know me as Pomb. I work as a freelance illustrator and I paint on the streets whenever I have the time. In 2015 I graduated in industrial design in Brasilia. I’ve worked for some design agencies and for GDF at Casa Civil as a designer, but after living out of the country for some time, I realized I wanted only to do my own original work. And ever since I decided that it has been working out for me. It’s not easy, because it’s not easy freelancing anywhere, but we make our own path, by becoming a reference for something and opening doors and connections with other people.”
When did you start illustrating?
I would draw a lot ever since I was a kid, I was very into cartoons – I would buy Knights of the zodiac and copy and draw I would over the figures on the package, and I loved doing that and it became such a natural process. I feel very privileged to be able to get money and make a living with what I do, of course, it’s nothing fancy but I really enjoy it.
When I started college I was crazy about cars and I chose industrial design so I could draw them. But in my third semester, I realized that I was never going to make a career out of that, so really hard segments to work here in Brazil and I just lost my interest. At the same time I would draw my own stuff, and by that time I was already painting on the streets, so turning this into my craft was a very natural process.
How was your transition from being an artist in Brasilia and being an artist in Sao Paulo?
The reason I moved to São Paulo specifically so I could find a larger market and make things happen over here as well, there is a lot of opportunities here. I was doing fine in Brasilia, was getting a lot of work and I was easily making a living. But it was a huge shock when I move to São Paulo, I didn’t know anybody or have any contacts. It was like someone punched me in the face, and I would always catch myself thinking “damn, what am I doing here man?”. It was three tough months but I never stopped believing in myself and I wanted to make it work.
Now I’m doing good, I still got a lot of work from Brasilia, but I think there’s still a lot of stuff to happen here in São Paulo, it’s still just the beginning of the road.
Now talking about your Air Jordan 1, how did this invitation from Nike global to make the sneaker happened?
In the of 2016, I had just finished moving here to São Paulo. It was a Sunday and I had no work, nothing. when suddenly I got an email from Nike in English. It said something like “we’re from Nike” and we love your work and would like to do a project involving Latin American artists and your name came up. Would you like to know more about the project? I was in shock and I answered that I was very interested.
It was really fast, only two hours later someone got in contact with me, we Skyped, and it happened. They said they found my work on Instagram – that’s how strong social media is! Someone over in the US was looking for an artist here and they just found me. Certainly, they looked at the work of other artists but they chose mine out of all 10 great artists here in Brazil, it was really cool.
THEY GAVE ME COMPLETE FREEDOM, WHICH WAS GOOD BUT AT THE SAME TIME WAS REALLY HARD. I SPENT A LOT OF TIME ON RESEARCH I’M TRYING TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING, THE PROCESS WAS REALLY CHILL BUT SOMETIMES IT’S EASIER WHEN YOU HAVE SOME DIRECTIONS.
And how was the briefing for the project? How much creative freedom did they give you?
The project was called “Los Primeiros” – their goal was to tell a bit about Mexico’s, Chile’s and Brazil’s Latin heritage. so I did some research and reached back to our roots, from the European immigrants to the Africans who were slaved, till the present day youth, flora and fauna and everything else. It was a very wide briefing – basically talked about the Latin American heritage that we have.
They gave me complete freedom, which was good but at the same time was really hard. I spent a lot of time on Research I’m trying to come up with something, the process was really chill but sometimes it’s easier when you have some directions.
Did they tell you which sneaker you were going to work on at the beginning of the project?
They told me that the graphics were going to be applied onto for classic sneakers – zip Cortez, Jordan 1, the Air Max and Air Force 1. In the beginning, they decided I was going to get the Air Force One, and they told me to “just paint something and they were going to put it on the sneaker”. But my intention was to draw something really complex, and after some research, I saw that most sneakers had like patterns on them, nothing complex, just really simple. So, I began to think how are we going to apply my illustration on to the shoe, and so, I started pitching them different ways to apply it, so I could guide them in some way, and it really worked out.
They got practically 100% of what I had said, from the materials to the color, they only changed the place of the illustration.
It’s a really elaborate drawing with a lot of elements and characters. Tell us a little bit of the story behind it.
I wrote a manifesto for it called “Roots” – it’s all the roots that involve and then brace all of our Latin heritage and cultural memories of Brazil. So this hair is that the same time routes that involve our people, from the boy with the cycling hat to the Boi Bumbá to Carnival, to the immigrants, to the fishermen from the north, toothache Indians, flora and fauna. till the sneakerheads – and it’s all there mixed up. That’s it it’s all of our heritage and Latin culture involved together. That is what Brazil is, a great rich mixture. And I really explode with the colors as well.
Another cool thing is that this “hair” drawing ended up becoming the pattern that was embossed throughout the entire upper after sneaker in a matte varnish.
When they called to do the project, did you know who were the other artists that were participating?
I did and it was dope! That’s when I realized how big this project really was. I confess I didn’t really know much about Wasafu, but I was a big fan of Saner and Inti, those guys were monsters. that was really happy to be a part of this project along with these guys and at the same time, I was very nervous I had a responsibility to do something as good as theirs.
THE CRAZY THING WAS THAT FOR A MONTH, EACH WEEK THEY RELEASED A SNEAKER, ENDED JORDAN WAS THE LAST ONE. AND IT’S SOLD OUT ON THEIR WEBSITE IN 10 MINUTES IT WAS PRETTY CRAZY.
It’s really cool to see that this project has had a Global scale.
The crazy thing was that for a month, each week they released a sneaker, ended Jordan was the last one. And it’s sold out on their website in 10 minutes it was pretty crazy. At the same time, I got a lot of pictures of people with boxes and boxes for reselling; there were even some fares up on eBay, it was so dope. Here in Brazil, they were available at Artwalk for some time and over at Guadalupe as well.