RINGWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Athletes are finding a new way to express themselves on the field — hand-painted footwear.
For this week’s Snapshot New York, CBS2’s Steve Overmyer spoke to Michael Jordan, the man behind the custom cleats.
“I love art and I love sports,” Jordan said. “This was the perfect way to segue-way my love of art into the sports realm.”
Like any piece of art, the final touches are the difference between average and exceptional.
“Pouring your heart into a piece of art that you’ve been working on for 10 hours and you’re trying to capture every little specific detail and you’re never satisfied because artists are always striving to be perfect and you never get there,” Jordan said.
Perfection is more elusive on the canvas of leather cleats.
“Sanding is a very, very important step to make sure that the paint can take a beating on the field,” Jordan said.
Jordan shares the name of a sports legend, but this Mike has found his own glory by helping athletes show their personalities.
“It might be the only avenue they have to show off and it’s funny because it’s at the bottom of their frame and so it probably never got as much attention,” he said.
The NFL doesn’t allow players to customize any part of their uniform, except their footwear. They’ve become the vehicle for expression.
“I also think that shoes are a huge part of culture,” Jordan said. “There’s something special about sneakers and what you’re wearing on your feet that maybe draw more attention than you think about … You give somebody a little bit of swag, you know. Players will say, look good, play good.”
More than 900 NFL players wore custom cleats last year. Jordan has completed more than 40 pairs for some of the biggest names in the game.
“When I made a pair for Baker Mayfield, it was right around the feeling dangerous time and so I made him a pair of ‘Feelin’ Dangerous’ pair of custom cleats. Since I sent them to him, he wore them every practice, every game and then this season came around and I think they probably got worn out,” he said.
“I never know when I’m going to stop. Doing this does come with sleepless nights sometimes and it’s a lot with a full-time job and a family,” he said.
Jordan’s day job is a quality analyst for an insurance company, but his hobby is allowing him to realize a dream by seeing his work on an NFL field.
“It never gets old to turn on the TV to watch a sport that you’ve been watching since you were a kid and see pair of cleats with your art on it on the field being worn by some of the best players in the league,” he said.
At a few hundred dollars per pair, he won’t become rich, but that’s not how he measures his success.
“If I can look back in 10 years and show my son and say ‘hey look I did some cool things’ — that would be success in my opinion,” Jordan said.