INDIANAPOLIS — Every year, NFL players choose an organization near and dear to their hearts as a part of the league’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign.
Players will wear special designs on the cleats for a week to raise awareness and later money for those charities. Game-worn shoes are auctioned off with all proceeds going directly to the foundations.
This year, the Colts reached out to Indiana natives and artists Omar Rashan and Rebecca Robinson about possibly designing cleats for their hometown team. Rashan designed five pairs including Kwity Paye’s, and Robinson designed three pairs.
“Each cause had a different story. When you start understanding what the cause is, you start to understand the player and what his goal is to achieve that,” said Rashan.
They both competed in a Puma sneaker design competition, so they felt familiar working with a different canvas. Robinson is a mixed-media artist and was up for the challenge.
“I thought it was really cool. When it comes to painting, I work with a lot of different materials, so I wasn’t intimidated by the shoes,” said Robinson. “I spent between 13 and 14 hours per shoe. It was so meticulous, because every little detail has to be impeccable.”
Both artists agreed, the biggest difficulty of painting the cleats was translating their designs to a small surface area. Players do have requests on what they might like to see, but Rashan said most were willing to let their creative energy flow.
“When you work on a shoe, it’s a different kind of challenge because you’re working on a smaller space,” said Rashan. “It’s challenging, but exciting. As a creative, when you do the same thing, it can be mundane. Doing something new like that can spark inspiration.”
Indianapolis is not universally known for its art scene, but both artists feel as though it is growing by the year. Rashan and Robinson have made a name for themselves, and hope their work this weekend can inspire other young artists in the Circle City.
“I thought it was extraordinary that they were working with the local artists, because I feel like Indy is on the edge of embracing the creatives here,” said Rashan. “I hope this opportunity inspires other creatives to come out of the woodwork.”
“I had no idea there were so many talented people here and I think people were in the shadows,” said Robinson. “Indianapolis is becoming a great art hub. I didn’t think I’d see this 15-20 years ago, but a change is coming.”
Robinson and Rashan’s cleats will be available for auction following the Colts Texans game on Sunday.