Posted on 28 Sep By Visionarism
Many of you are artists and creatives at heart, but have you ever thought about turning your passion into a business? Dan Freebairn, also known as Kick Posters, saw the opportunity and took it. At 25 years old, he has already worked with some of the biggest names in the sportswear industry and nothing seems to be able to stop him. Combining his passion for sneakers to his illustration skills, Kick Posters has now established a very unique style. Scroll down to read Dan’s interview and to check our the image gallery as well as a special piece he made for Visionarism…
People know your artwork but for those who don’t know you yet, can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Dan Freebairn, 25, a graphic designer & illustrator from Manchester. Most know me for my sneaker illustrations… whether that be via my Instagram or my online Poster store KickPosters.com
We have seen your work on many platforms and it must have taken lots of perseverance and hard work to achieve this. Can you share your story with us about how it all started?
I’ve always put my work ‘out there’… Ever since I first started using Photoshop and Illustrator. Around the time I discovered what graphic design was, we’re talking when I was about 14/15, I’d post whatever I created on design platforms and portfolio websites. While at college and University I’d keep up that trend, uploading projects, sharing my work and building a portfolio. The next step for me was to find paying clients and because I had an online portfolio I could instantly show them my skills. Branding was what I was into at the time, I did that for a number of years before I started Illustrating sneakers. That started of a hobby, a bit of fun between projects. However, by doing what came naturally to me and uploading those illustrations to the web and Instagram, I worked out there was an opportunity for me to start an online poster store specifically for sneakerheads. As my focus switch to that rather than branding and I continued to share illustrations, put them in front of the right people, send tons of emails to get my work featured on blogs, then it just started to grow. I’m now lucky enough to have my poster store shipping worldwide as well as being asked to work freelance on projects for sneaker brands, blogs and retailers.
How does it feel to see people acknowledging your talent on a global scale?
Knowing I have work all over the world, yeah it’s kind of crazy. But I try not to think about it too much, I like to stay focused. I feel there’s always more to achieve. I like to set myself goals, work towards them… and once they’re complete, enjoy it for a moment but then look for the next one. Don’t get caught up thinking you’ve ‘made it’.
You draw a lot of shoes, and some of them are based on some of the rarest models in existence. Do you own all the shoes you draw?
I wish!… I am lucky enough to have a handful of rare models in my collection but I started by illustrating shoes I owned and anything that was hyped. As the demand grew for my posters I started to look at it with more of a business/marketing mindset, illustrating anything that was being talked about in the blogs at that moment in time, hype or not. I was trying to reach a target audience to sell my posters. Right now it’s almost a combination of the two, the busier I’ve become, I can’t illustrate ‘everything’… so most of the stuff you’ll see are shoes I genuinely like, but I still have to chuck in some other, hype or rare models to keep growing my audience.
What is your ultimate grail?
Ultimate grail… that’s a though one… Maybe because I actually have them already. Run DMC ‘It’s like that’… It was because of that song I fell in love with the adidas Superstar, I had a fair few pairs growing up and obviously have a load now. But the one pair I always wanted was the RUN DMC 2005 Superstar 35th Anniversary colorway, with the logo on the heel. At the time of release I wasn’t as crazy about shoes as I am now and didn’t know enough about limited releases, so I missed out. But once I really started ‘collecting’… I had to have them! Few years of looking and I finally found someone selling a deadstock pair in my size and for a reasonable price. They now sit in a clear display case above my collection, waiting for the right time to break them out.
When did you decide to make your passion a business?
I always wanted to work for myself or own my own brand or have an online store. So once KickPosters stared to grow, it was my opportunity to make that dream a reality. It took a few months planning and waiting for the right time financially, because at the time I had a well paid 9-5, but once I knew I could fully dedicate my time to something I love as well as paying the bills… I had to make it happen.
We believe you are doing really well and that you have a lot more to show the world. What are you going to do next in order to carry on growing in this community?
It would be amazing to collaborate with a brand on a sneaker and some clothing but I never really plan too far ahead, I’ve naturally grown as a creative and the way KickPosters has grown reflects that as well. So I think I’m just going to keep doing what I do best, throw myself some challenges along the way and see where I end up. It’s worked out okay for me so far.
For all the young creatives who are reading us, can you tell us what are the key elements in order to get noticed in this industry?
Be inspired by other artists but find your own style, share your work on your social media and build an online portfolio. But most importantly don’t give up… keep churning out work and try get as many people to see it as you can. I’m sure some people find it annoying but look for people who work for your favorite brands, shops, blogs, other pages who will share you work… tag them, make them see your work. It’s about producing quality work and gaining exposure for yourself.
What do you think of social media such as Instagram or Facebook, and how have they impacted you and your art?
I built my following, attracted customers and connect with other people in the industry via Instagram. Without Instagram, KickPosters wouldn’t exist. It’s as simple as that. The other social media platforms are just other places I share my work to gain that exposure I previously mentioned. I see so many people who suggest your number of followers means nothing and laugh at you when you celebrate a milestone. But for small businesses and creatives like me, sneaker related or not, who promote their work and/or products on social media… each one of those followers is someone who appreciates what you do and is a potential customer. The more followers you gain, the more people you’re putting your work/product in front of, it’s a marketing tool for some of us, not just a platform to share what you had for dinner.
What are the main brands you have or want to collaborate with?
I’ve worked on freelance projects for Adidas, Saucony, Reebok and Puma. I’ve also worked with sneaker retailers such as Sneakernstuff, Footpatrol and Footasylum. But when it comes to a collaboration, potentially designing my own sneaker and/or clothing to go with that… it would be a dream to work with any of the above, but top of that list would be Adidas. I just can’t get enough three stripes, especially now, the way they are killin’ it! I’ve got ideas, colourways & concepts in my head… hit me up Adi, I’m ready! Ha!
Any upcoming project or collaboration you would like to share with us?
There may be a new series of prints coming… a ‘Premium Series’. And I’m also looking into sticker packs. Other than that… just keep your eyes on @KickPosters on Instagram, you’ll see everything on there. Oh and there’s something really cool coming once I hit 100k on Instagram… don’t miss that ;)
Thanks Dan! We look forward to the 100k!