Did you see the Friday the 13th Jason Voorhees inspired Nike HyperDunk’s worn by Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns? Towns rocked the customized kicks in Minnesota’s 125-122 Halloween eve victory over Miami and sent social media into a frenzy—every NBA-related page (on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) or website posted about the limited edition, handcrafted masterpiece. The sneakers were a pair no one had ever seen before and had people wondering who or where to get them from.
Was Van Gogh resurrected into a 30-year-old man from Los Angeles, California in 2017? That’s what some may think.
Sal Amezcua, known as Kickstradomis on social media, is a sneaker designer who creates customized sneakers, cleats, and other products for professional athletes across a number of leagues. His clients include Towns, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert, New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins, Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart, Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier and pitcher Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree, defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker and safety Blake Countess, among others. Recently, the Los Angeles Rams hired Amezcua to create 12 pairs of cleats for the NFL’s Crucial Catch campaign that spreads breast cancer awareness.
Amezcua grew up with ambitions to become an artist. At four-years-old, he decided he’d begin creating whatever he desired with crayons, colored pencils, and other tools. Designing sneakers began when Amezcua’s cousin asked him to restore a pair of kicks; he took it one step further. After venturing to Youtube for ideas of sneaker restoration, Amezcua came across a sneaker designer and thought, “I can do that too.” He restored the sneakers and began designing. Today—with the same enthusiasm his four-year-old self-had—he earns a living through his talent. Along with sneakers, he also has experience painting on walls, murals, and canvas.
Amezcua built a foundation by doing custom designs for fans and used social media to spread the word. After a few sneakers were complete, people began to take notice, including Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola contacted Amezcua to design 30 pairs of Nike Air Force 1 sneakers around Christmas time for the Sprite Cranberry product. Coca-Cola gave pairs of the exclusive sneakers to celebrities like Drake, Nas, and even Floyd Mayweather’s daughter. Then, athletes began taking notice. Karl-Anthony Towns, who was the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2016, is Amezcua’s most frequent athlete client, and their relationship is much more than sneakers.
“[Karl-Anthony] Towns isn’t just a client, he’s a friend,” Amezcua said. “After connecting with him, a few weeks in, he invited me down to his house and we had a meeting about sneakers. We hit it off, and since, he’s opened some huge doors for me.”
Amezcua said Towns simply gave him a number of sneakers and a few ideas and themes he’s interested in, then trusted his abilities to make a successful design.
Towns—whose size 20 shoe is currently the largest in the NBA—has already worn four of Amezcua’s designs; twice in the NBA preseason, once in a scrimmage, and the most famous Friday the 13th inspired pair against Miami. Towns was afraid the NBA would fine him for the sneakers, but he didn’t care; he fell in love with the design and wore them during the game. Amezcua says Towns told him “I’ll take the fine… I’m gonna wear them.”
Since Towns’ custom pair blew up on social media, Amezcua’s popularity has increased dramatically and has seen growing demand for his ability. He has thought of reaching out to other designers to help him out during hectic times.
“It’s been nuts… my phone hasn’t stopped buzzing, and my DM’s are flooded,” Amezcua said. “I’m trying to formulate a team and get people I can mold into great designers. It’s getting crazy, and it’s getting to a point where I’m gonna need help.”
The process of designing a pair could take anywhere from three to 24 hours—the type of sneaker (high top or low), brand, material, size, design and amount of detail all play a factor. Amezcua strictly uses tools from companies who endorse him, including Jacquard Products paints, Iwata airbrushes, and Princeton Artist Brush paint brushes. Amezcua is also endorsed by the sneaker cleaner company Reshoevn8r.
“Every brand has its easy model to work on,” Amezcua said. “It comes down to the material I’m working on. If it’s a flat leather surface, I can do a lot more detail work. Converse Chuck Taylor’s or Vans make it a lot easier. With time, I’ve developed skills and techniques to make every shoe easy.”
Designing a sneaker for a client with a size 8.5 shoe compared to a professional athlete whose size is apart from the norm is a whole different ballgame.
“It’s tougher and easier at the same time,” Amezcua noted. “Tougher because it’s a lot more of an area to work on, but easier because I can put more fine detail on that canvas.
Pride and passion for art are extremely important to Amezcua. He is an admirer of creativity and enjoys spreading artistic techniques through hands-on seminars with children. Art seminars have been held at venues and studios in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. In the near future, Amezcua plans on demonstrating his creations on his Youtube channel Kickstradomis TV.
Since becoming well-known on social media, he has seen designers competing in the field, and he doesn’t like it.
“[The art industry] is pretty cutthroat, and there are plenty of people doing it to compete and not for the love of it,” Amezcua said. “It’s supposed to be for the passion and love. I’m not here to compete, I’m here to give and live through my art, and I wish that’s what everybody else does.”
Sal Amezcua has made astonishing sneaker designs for the public and plans to continue forming relationships with athletes and celebrities.
“I don’t want to be known for just painting sneakers… I want to be known as someone [who] helped pioneer the custom culture further and continue to motivate and inspire the youth.”
To see more of Amezcua’s designs, follow Kickstradomis on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. Subscribe to Kickstradomis TV on YouTube for new videos coming soon.
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