Timothy Goodman on Honoring New York City With His Nike Design for Kevin Durant

Posted inDesigner Interviews

The words of artist, writer, and illustrator Timothy Goodman have populated walls, buildings, packaging, shoes, clothing, books, magazine covers, and galleries all over the world for brands including Apple, Google, MoMA, Netflix, Tiffany & Co., Samsung, Uniqlo, Target, The New Yorker and The New York Times. Now the prolific artist can add Nike and Brooklyn Nets basketball legend and Kevin Durant to his already enviably list of clients. Tim’s first sneaker for Durant— aptly titled the “Nike Timothy Goodman KD 15”— drops today. Featuring his signature text-based illustrations, the sneaker honors the borough KD plays in and New York City overall. Debbie Millman had a chance to interview him the evening before the launch.

Your brand new Nike shoe is dropping today! Congratulations! You created a new show for NBA Brooklyn Nets basketball player Kevin Durant. How did this project come about?

In 2020, I drew all over and designed a basketball court for the students at PS 315 in Brooklyn in collaboration with KD’s charity foundation. They refurbished b-ball courts all around communities in the U.S. In early 2021, Nike  and the  KD team reached out to me to create the art for his latest colorway with Nike.

This isn’t your first shoe—but is it your first sneaker? How was this different?

As a massive NBA fan, KD fan, and a proud New Yorker, this whole process has been a literal dream of mine. As one of the only independent visual artists to create a Nike basketball shoe, I’m pretty beside myself creating a shoe with one of the greatest b-ball players to ever do it.

What was the process of working with both Nike and Kevin Durant like?

A dream. Since the idea was pretty baked in because of the court, it was an easy process once we got going with artwork.

Many large conglomerates will co-op the visual languages that independent artists make and push into the zeitgeist, choosing to create something internally instead. And the fact that KD and Nike both came to me to collaborate on this is something I don’t take lightly. I hope more brands do this going forward. 

I know you were already a basketball fan. How did your love of the game influence your artwork?

Most NBA sneakers are mostly ugly. And the ones that are cool looking are meant for performance, for the game.  I wanted to create a sneaker that would both stand out on the court and be something you would want to wear in the streets. The only challenge was to make the art as impactful as possible on such a small canvas. 

Your art honors both Brooklyn and New York City in general. You are also a New Yorker. How did your knowledge of the city impact your artwork?

Well as a New Yorker, I wanted to make the most unique, freshest basketball shoe I’ve ever seen. I wanted to create a piece of art on your feet, something that represented BK and NYC on your feet, wherever you are. The colors I choose are a homage to Brooklyn and to the ’80s vibes I grew up with. I tried over 150 variations of colors!

The sneaker is called the  “Nike Timothy Goodman KD15.” That’s pretty amazing. Who’s idea was that?

My manager and publicist! I’m lucky. 

You also have a new book coming out soon—tell us about that!

It’s called I Always Think It’s Forever! It’s a graphic memoir about love, heartbreak, dating, risk, healing, masculinity, and how I finally showed up for myself. It’s centered around how I went to Paris for a year in 2019. All the art, poetry, graphs, writing, and the design of the book was be created by me. It comes out January 31, 2023, and you can preorder now!