Several brands have turned to art as a platform through which to engage fans and consumers. Becks, Bombay Sapphire and Relentless have all dabbled in the art world, with some success. It is an easy way for a brand to align itself with the creative heart of current pop culture. The right collaboration can elevate a brand's creative equity in the eyes of its consumers.
But the art world can be a stuffy place, and at odds with the young urban energies of sneaker subculture, so when Foot Locker got involved it wanted to turn the art world on its head. The high street shoe retailer is a haven for sneaker enthusiasts and in its latest creative project, fans of Foot Locker and sneakers generally would have a chance to demonstrate their love for all things sneaker related.
Billed as 'the world's richest colouring competition', the Foot Locker Art Prize was launched in the summer of 2011. Visitors to footlockerarprize.com could choose from a selection of pre-drawn templates, colour them in and submit them to an online gallery. The pre-drawn templates were made up of a number of iconic sneaker designs and brands, including Converse, Nike Air and Puma.
The idea was to unite sneaker fans and Foot Locker in their shared passion for sneakers. Australia's top art prize is the Archibald prize, which together with the prestige comes with a AUS$50,000 prize. Foot Locker decided to top this by a dollar, (AUS $50,001) and offer the finalists a chance to exhibit their work in the home of the Archibald Prize. Foot Locker elevated sneaker art to fine art and gave people a new platform for self-expression.
The competition was open to everyone, from school children to street artists, and anyone with a love of sneakers in Australia and New Zealand. Submissions could be viewed in an online gallery, where viewers could comment on artwork and share it through social media channels. Foot Locker stores were also converted into mini galleries to showcase the finalists.
The jury panel consisted of artist Dave White, critic Andrew Frost and Simon 'Woody' Wood, founder of Sneaker Freaker magazine.
This resulted in 6,177 individual artworks.
The online gallery receiving an average of 47 pages viewed per site visit.
The winner was 24-year-old Kalin Thompson for his 'Forbidden Fruit' painting. In the words of judge Dave White, 'It was just a complete knockout.' As well as the $50,001 cheque, he also took home a one-off pair of Air Force 1 sneakers (based on his artwork) now archived on Sneakerpedia.