Posted on 14 Aug By Visionarism
Shining the light on those who are the real drivers of our community is the mission statement of Visionarism, and our friend Nick Glackin definitely fits the mould. Some of you might know him as Glackster on social media and seen his infamous Microdudes, as Nick’s name now rings a bell on a global scale. From taking sneaker pictures in his spare time to working with some of the biggest brands on the market, his progression and story are very inspirational to all of us. We managed to catch up with him to talk about how it all started and to get inside the mind of the man behind the Microdudes.
Tell us about yourself…
Hey! I’m Nick, from a little village outside of Glasgow that most people will never have heard of and about 9 years ago I moved to Manchester & have been here ever since. Obviously, I love trainers/sneakers (whatever people like to call them) and have done for many years. The 1990 Air Max 90, Infrared, was the first shoe that caught my eye when I was in school and made stop in my tracks to admire it, but at the time my parents couldn’t afford to buy them, so they drifted off to the land of dreams for me. The first shoe I could afford to buy myself, from a job I took during the school summer holidays, was the 1991 Nike Air TW Lite II. I was so stoked on that shoe, still am (I have a DS Pair stashed away). I even cut the midsole apart when I had literally worn the whole outsole away, just to see the Air Unit inside. Kids!
When it comes to sneaker photography, your name rings a bell on a global scale, how did it all start?
It has all been a very random and unplanned adventure. A few years ago, my friend told me about Instagram and said I should join, he knew I liked taking photographs, but mainly of snowboarding & mountain biking, sports that I was heavily involved in, etc, I was really hesitant as I wasn’t really big into Social Media but eventually I caved and signed up. I had no idea what images to start putting out there, so decided that I’d just begin to share my sneakers (albeit the images weren’t the most attractive! If you look back, they all remain on my IG) I also liked the fact that sneakers are quite anonymous, no need to share images of my face! Ha.
It was then that I realised there were thousands upon thousands of people doing the same, sharing their sneaker collections. At one point I noticed some online stores doing competitions for shoes, for photographing and sharing creative images of certain sneakers, that got my head engaged into trying to think of different ways of capturing the sneakers, I guess I’ve just continued on from there. It also stops me getting bored from taking the same images over and over.
What are your personal tips to get the perfect shot?
Jeez, I don’t actually know! Hahaha. I just wing it! ‘The Perfect Shot’, is always going to be subjective one, what one person thinks is amazing, another person will just think it’s nothing special. That’s one of the things I really like though, the diversity of opinion and tastes.
One thing I would suggest for shooting sneakers, is don’t leave your aperture wide open all of the time, just because you have a 1.4 or 1.2 lens, doesn’t mean you have to have set on that. I think you loose too much detail and focus on the shoe, as the depth of field is so shallow. That is definitely a pet hate on some images I see, a tiny fraction of the shoe in focus while the rest is blurred out, but again that’s all down to personal preference. I very rarely take a sneaker shot with an aperture wider than f2.5.
There are many talented sneaker photographers out there, what makes you stand out and where do you get inspiration from?
I’m genuinely not sure what makes me stand out, or even if I do. I guess I like to try and make each shoe, somehow tie in with its surroundings and colours. I definitely have a thing for bright colours, I’m not one for the current trend of boosting the blacks on an image and keeping everything in the surroundings/backdrop monochrome. And there are always my little friends, the Microdudes, they’re definitely a more fun and lighthearted part of my IG, for me at least.
You are known for using your “micro dudes” in your shots, how did that idea come to you?
The Microdudes came about as an idea for an Instagram competition that Size? was running in parallel with Nike, for the first Air Max Day during 2013. I wanted to demonstrate how an Air Max was a big shoe, in relation to the sneaker world. During that time I was walking past a model store and spotted some tiny architectural figures, the idea just popped into my head. From that moment on, I was hooked on the concept paired to sneakers, as I hadn’t seen that done specifically by anyone. Now I always try to make sure there is a direct correlation between the style of figures and the theme/name of the shoe, otherwise it can end up just random mess with a shoe.
What do you think of social media such as Instagram, and how has it impacted you and your work?
Instagram for me, is definitely a gift and curse! It’s been an amazing gift as without it I would never have worked with brands such as Nike, Adidas, Staple, Clarks etc. I am genuinely grateful for those experiences, all of which I could never have imagined happening when I first joined IG.
The curse side, is the continuous and relentless stream of basically brand advertising. There’s no escape, unless I un-follow 90% of the people I do. Most of the people I follow are into sneakers, so whether it’s a brand new pair that has just released or an older pair that you had forgotten about, there is pretty much always an image that connects with me as a consumer. Because lets be realistic, that’s exactly what I am, I am a consumer, I don’t work for any sports brands. At the end of the day though, it is my choice to follow them, so if I do find myself getting desensitised by the sheer volume of new releases or footwear photographs, I just have a few days away from Instagram.
Would you say that social media creates opportunity for talents (artists, photographers, bloggers, influencers, etc.)?
100% yes, but I wouldn’t rely on it as your sole channel for creating opportunities. I genuinely never expected or had the initial desire to start working on projects with Global Brands, it just randomly happened (and I’m really glad it did!). That is solely down to Instagram, it enables people like me to have their images noticed and recognised by these brands, which normally you’d have to fight to get an audience with.
We understand that you have an important collection of sneakers, what do you think about the current market and community, and how do you imagine it in 5 years?
It is certainly an ever changing type of market. Hype trends changing from Basketball shoes, to SB’s, to runners, to new tech shoes. It’s always changing and I have zero clue where it’s going now, purely down to the sheer volume of new shoes being released daily. But brands are getting better with their advertising and how they release shoes, they know how to build up hype, especially through Social Channels, drip feeding stock for the first big drop to keep them limited and then restock them when the thirst is high, or bang out 100 new colourways (slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean).
The community aspect has always been a weird one for me; I don’t really consider it a community, just a lot of friends. But I guess it’s a good a collective definition as any. There is definitely a faster growing, or at least appears to be a faster growing number of people getting into Sneakers these days, whether it’s just for a few pairs or for hundreds, as long as they enjoy their shoes, go for it. The availability of information via Social Media channels is definitely a driver in this.
As for 5 years from now, who knows? I’m just hoping in 5 years time that my son hasn’t grown to have the same size of feet as me and that most of my older collection hasn’t crumbled! But the lifespan of shoes isn’t an infinite one and they all eventually fade away. I am pretty sure I’ll be still be trying to grab shoes online or ask friends for assists on in-store release!
With the community changing, the growth of social media, and brand investing more money into marketing, how do you see yourself evolving as an individual and as an artist?
I haven’t thought that far ahead. My regular day job is so vastly different from my photography hobby, combined with having 2 tiny children now, takes up nearly all of my time. I would like to hope that more opportunities out there still exist for me, to get creative and try new ideas, it’s just a matter of timing to make sure nothing clashes. I won’t compromise on my responsibilities.
Is there any interesting upcoming project you would like to share with us?
There a few things out there that I’ve just finished, but you’ll need to wait to keep an eye out for them. For one of them, lets just say my tiny friends should be making a magazine appearance soon!
Thanks for taking the time to reach out! And to those that have read this far, thank you for enduring my waffle!