Nick Glackin. A name that hardly needs introduction within the sneaker world, having worked and created some of the most recognisable content in the industry.
With his team of infamous Microdudes, Nick has put together some of the most interesting to look at imagery with his miniature set ups and stages incorporating a whole new spectrum of creativity.
We sat down with Nick and his crew to find out how these ideas came into reality and as well as talk about his collections.
Footpatrol: First off we want to thank you Nick and also the microdudes for coming to spend some time with us! How are you all?
Nick: Hey there, and thanks for inviting us along, we’re excited to be included. We’re all doing pretty good, cheers. Personally, I’m hiding my pasty white Scottish skin away from this sun & heat, while the little folks are relaxing in the shade of some desk drawers.
FP: Your work has been used and seen across the world and has no doubt become one of the most recognisable aesthetics out there. How did you come into photography and footwear?
N: I’ve always been a bit of a footwear fan since I was young. Probably like most, longing after shoes that my mum couldn’t afford. Once I got a job most of my money would be spent on skate shoes and trashing them, that was prior to shattering my knee and femur from falling off a S-rail snowboarding. Whilst I wasn’t allowed to skate I’d buy runners, so I guess it was roundabout then that I found myself gathering footwear. I suppose it’s not until you get a little older (in my case anyway) and have some disposable cash that maybe you start to realise you’ve built up what some might consider a collection
As for the photography element, prior to joining Instagram I’d be actively photographing snowboarding mostly. A friend suggested joining Instagram and it took me a while to actually sign up. When I did, I wasn’t sure what exactly to post photographs of, so I opted for sneakers as I’d always enjoyed the TIA page on the Crooked Tongues forum. I guess it just developed from there and I’ve been super lucky to get involved in various global campaigns with a few of the main footwear brands. I certainly never saw that coming.
FP: We wanted to focus on the Microdudes photo shoots that you put together and the sets that you create. When did this idea of creating these setups come from?
N: It was quite a fun thing. It was round about 2013, when Nike had launched an Air Max competition in conjunction with Size? to meet Tinker Hatfield at the Centre Pompidou – the location where Tinker had originally drawn his inspiration for the visible air unit. It was an Instagram photography contest to showcase Air Max in a creative way.
I tried several different approaches. I tried light painting with an Air Max 95, I had friends walking up the glass windows outside of the Size? store front, amongst a whole lot more. But none of that was working. I thought ‘how can I show people that Air Max is big?’ Like it’s a big shoe. It’s not just a 90, not just a 1 – Air Max as a whole is massive. It’s huge in the UK. It’s got such a huge following, so how can you demonstrate that it’s big, within a photograph. I couldn’t think of anything.
Then one day I was in Manchester and I was walking past an architectural shop and I saw these little scale figures. And I was like, ‘oh, I’ve got it’. Straight away what came to my mind was a scene from Gulliver’s Travels. All of the little people running around a giant, pinning him down on a beach. That’s perfect, so I’ll just make Air Max big. So, I got the little folk, cut up some toothpicks, tied string to the toothpicks, stuck the toothpicks in the ground in my back garden, threw all the string over my legs, positioned the Microdudes (including Harold & Maud) and took the image. I think the strapline was: ‘Air Max a big shoe in anybody’s world.’ That was really the first ever Microdude image.
FP: Did you think it would become as popular and recognisable as it now has?
N: Short answer; No, never. It’s always just been a fun way to bring sneakers a little closer to the lens, whilst giving your eye another (hopefully fun) reason for being so close. Plain close-up product images are pretty dull and uninteresting for me. I’m genuinely not entirely sure why they’ve gained as much traction as they have, perhaps others see the light-hearted nature of the images too and that’s why they engage with them as much as they do. All I know is, they make me smile during the process and at the end result.
FP: You also have 2 front runners within the Microdudes, your spokesmodels if you would call them that – Harlod and Maud, what made these guys the centre of attention?
N: I guess in a way, Harold and Maude are the antithesis of cool. They’re old, they’re not trying to follow any trends, they just like footwear. Granted, they do seem to appear on quite a lot of highly desirable pairs, but I think they complement each other well.
FP: Are they still the main instigators now or has there been any new additions to the crew?
N: The little crew are constantly growing and taking over desk space, but Harold & Maude kind of run things. The rest of the crew take directions from them. They’re certainly not adverse to sharing the stage with others, but Harold & Maude will always be the headline acts.
FP: Moving on to some of the projects you’ve done. Some of my favourite ones that you did are the Nike Lunar Flyknit 1+ and the Nike Airmax 1 ‘Uwara Dragon’ could you explain briefly how these concepts came into fruition?
N: The majority of the scenes are like little lightbulb moments, I don’t really spend time dwelling on the creation of concepts, unless it’s for a specific commission. The Urawa one simply happened because the outsole started to fall off that pair when I was wearing them one day. I was just about to get the clamps and glue ready when I thought that it would make a nice mini construction scene, where something was actually broken and needed to be fixed. Nothing had to be manipulated for that set up and I had the crane and scaffolding from an earlier project. It was a basic little scene but told a story, I guess.
The Lunar Flyknit 1+ was a scene that I had wanted to make for a Flyknit pair for a while, using various needles and threads, it just suits the construction of the shoe. The colours and the sculpted/detailed tooling made that pair a really easy one to create the scene for. The little sculptor working away at the outsole area is my favourite element and generally the fact that it’s just a nice colourful image.
FP: How long does it take to make the sets?
N: Each set is completely different. If I already have the figures and it’s just a simple set of images with some easily adjustable/obtainable backdrops, then maybe a day or 2 to pull it all together. If it’s a larger set where I have to make and paint the figures, including creating the backdrop/scenery, that can take anywhere from 1 week right up to 6 weeks, which has been the longest so far. They definitely take longer than most people think.
The recent Amsterdam scene actually took me 4 months. But that was me just dipping in and out of the set when I had time and partly because I kept accidentally breaking elements and people. If I was to condense that timeframe down, it was probably in the region of 7 or 8 days solid work.
FP: Am I right in saying that you also got to create a set for Nikes release of Jasmine Lasodes – Nike Airmax 97 ‘London Summer of Love’?
N: Yeah, that one was super fun. I met Jasmine the year before the shoes launched, we had worked together at the Stock X London launch event where I had created 6 Microdude installations to be displayed. We talked about creating something with the little folk in the future, several months later Nike knocked on my door and asked me to draw up some concepts for her new AM97 release.
The shoe and the story behind the design really made for a fun concept and I’m still surprised by how amazing it turned out. The whole scene just tells the story so well, it even includes Jasmine and Lauren sitting together on the bench at the top of Primrose Hill Park, wearing the exact outfits they wore on their date for that day. I had to get all of the details just right.
FP: How did that feel to see your work used for the launch of that shoe?
N: It was definitely a great feeling seeing it front and centre in the shop window of Size? on Carnaby Street. The little folk have been very lucky to be involved in various projects throughout the last few years, with brands such as Nike, adidas, Reebok, Stock X and a few others, but seeing them on display like that has been a highlight for sure.
Even now, I still smile at the fact that they’re living life on display in Nike’s London Office. Friends will send me random photo messages or DM me a photo of the installation when they visit the Nike office, it’s nice to know they’re still there and being appreciated.
FP: Now just side tracking I wanted to ask you some questions surrounding your collection. Your followers will know that you have some insanely crazy pairs!
Are you able to give us a Top 5 of what you got, if not at least 5 of some of your favourites within your collection?
N: Ooft, that is always something I struggle with. I don’t think I have ever been able to narrow it down to a top 5. There are few pairs that will never fall far from rotation and I guess by default they could be classed as being in some sort of top 5.
As a compromise, let’s say we go for a combination of top 5 & top current most worn pairs, if that makes any sense?
1. Always, always, always going to be there is the Air Max 90 – Infrared (or to give it its original moniker, appropriate for the current releases, the Air Max III) At the moment I’m wearing my 2005 HOA pair a lot, I started to refurb my 2008, which actually turned into a Microdude scene and then I stopped after I had done 1 shoe. I need to get my finger out and get the other midsole painted.
2. Another that gets a fair few pavement miles are the 2003 Air Max 1 B – Atmos Safari. I’m fortunate enough to have 2 pairs of those, 1 pair is signed by Tinker as I was wearing them on my trip to the Centre Pompidou with Nike & Size? I had to take the chance to get them signed. That particular pair has lost all pressure from the air units, so doesn’t get worn.
3. The Air Max 90 KAWS is a firm favourite. I’ve always been partial to clean white shoes, the hits of volt on these, the mesh and baseball stitching really make this pair stand out for me. I have to say though, they are the biggest pain to keep even remotely clean.
4. New Balance x WTAPS 992WT. Another colour I love on shoes is olive green, especially if there are some orange accents thrown in there. The 992 is such a comfortable shoe and the way this shoe has been pulled together is just stunning.
5. The Salomon XT-6 gets a lot of wear, they’re such a solid pair for all day comfort and due to the construction, they clean up super easy. I’ve generally always worn Salomon footwear when out in the mountains, either for hiking or for Snowboarding, but got to admit I’ve only really discovered their cross-over range in the last few years. Favourite XT-6 at the moment is the green/denim blue/lime green pair, best colourway in a while for me.
FP: Well Nick thank you again for sharing your story we really appreciate it, before we let you go is there anything you have coming up or anything at all that you would like to share to the Footpatrol Community?
N: Nothing more from me really, I have a few new Microdude scenes that I’ve been wanting to make for a while now, but they either need a big budget and/or a lot of my time to make them happen, I’m sure I’ll round to some of them eventually. I’d definitely like to say a big thank you, Footpatrol, for asking me over to have a chat, really enjoyed it and hopefully see you when I next visit London, FP is a standard must visit each time I’m down. Cheers again!