Kicks: For everyone out there who may not have had the opportunity yet to hear the name Matt Stevens, if you could give us a little introduction, that would be great. What do you do for a living?
Matt: I live in Charlotte, NC with my wife, 3 kids and dog. I am a full time Creative Director for a small design firm focused on branding here in Charlotte. I spend whatever spare time I do have working on personal projects and pursuing work that I have a particular interest in for one reason or another.
Kicks: How did you come to discover your talent and passion for art/design? How long have you been engaged in the industry?
Matt: For me it was really clear that I would do something art related at a pretty early age. I was a constant doodler and drawer. When I’d play paper football with the neighbor kid, I’d spend most of the time designing the sign for the game or redesigning my team’s helmet. Once I figured out you could do that sort of thing for a living, something just kind of clicked for me. I never had any doubt I’d be in a creative field of some kind.
I’ve been in the design industry for about 15 years. It’s been cool to see how things have changed and how much opportunity social media and the online world gives you to connect with all kinds of projects and people (I’m talking to you for example). Much of my personal projects have come out of a desire to do work that I find personally interesting or important. Whether it’s doing sneakers, just because I love them, or doing design for the Salvation Army’s WARdrobe project to raise money for causes I believe in.
Kicks: When did it become clear that you had an obsession for sneakers? Has your family taken notice?
Matt: My sneaker obsession started pretty young. I just loved the design and the colors. I’m a child of the late 80’s so it really took off then. Andre Agassi, Bo Jackson and then when Jordan came along, I was just completely enthralled by those guys as athletes, heroes, and the shoes that they wore and the stories that were created around them just blew me away. I became a fan for life. I’d save up my pennies to get the newest Jordans. The advertising that Nike and Weiden+Kennedy did using those guys was always spot on and made you take notice. Those guys were like superheroes to me and the shoes were kind of like their costumes, in a way.
I am grateful to have an amazing family that is very supportive. Especially my wife. She really supports my creative endeavors, as strange as they may be at times. I would say that I’m a pretty practical guy for a sneakerhead. I don’t collect, but I buy stuff I like and wear it. And with supporting a family, I have to be pretty conservative with how much I spend. If I bought everything I liked, we’d need a bigger house and would have to eat toast for every meal.
Kicks: Why is the Nike Air Max 1 the greatest sneaker ever created?
Matt: For a few reasons. It was the first Nike with the visible air pocket. That was pretty radical at the time. I saw a video online of Tinker Hatfield talking about his inspiration for the design and it really hooked me. He was inspired by a building in Paris that had much of the structure on the outside. He brought that kind of thinking to a shoe. The other reason is just purely the design. It’s so balanced and perfect. That shoe could come out tomorrow and it would look completely fresh.