An admired graffiti artist, illustrator, photographer, and fashion designer whose art touches many different spheres of public life, Futura is also responsible for some of the most legendary grails in sneaker history. But just who is Futura? And what makes his collaborations with Nike so unique?
Who is Futura?
Brooklyn local Leonard Hilton McGurr, known as Futura, is one of the founding fathers of the graffiti movement in New York. He belongs to a notable group of contemporaries, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Dondi White, all of whom exhibited at Fun Gallery (an iconic East Village institution) in the 1980’s.
Futura began his career in the 70’s, tagging subway walls as “Futura 2000”—a nod to his favorite movie, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. His influence soon spread far beyond street art. An integral part of the punk scene, he famously collaborated with The Clash to create live works during their concerts and designing their album art.
In the early aughts, the graffiti artist began collaborating with Nike to create limited sneaker designs that straddled the worlds of street art, streetwear and pop culture. Today, his Nike collabs remain among the rarest and most coveted on the market. Attesting to Futura’s stature in the art world, his work can be found in the collections of the Musée de Vire, the Museum of the City of New York and the Museo de Arte Moderna di Bologna.
The Most Iconic Futura x Nike Collabs
Nike Air Blazer Suede Futura SP
Part of Nike’s early-aughts “Artist Series,” this 2002 Nike Blazer Mid is an early example from the sneaker giant’s storied collaborations with Futura. Nicknamed the “Boba Fett” (thanks to its evocative colorway), this Nike Blazer sports a suede black upper with contrasting Green Curry Swoosh and tongue. The design is tied together with Jedi Green laces, toe tips and Nike branding.
Nike SB Dunk Low Pro Futura
In 2003, Nike SB tapped Futura to rework the SB Dunk Low in his signature style. These Futura Nike SB Dunk Lows feature suede on the mudguard, mesh on the mid panels, and tumbled leather on the toe box and heel. The contemporary mix of colors seen in these Nike SB Dunks is said to represent the subway trains of New York, which Futura used as a canvas in the early days of his career.
Nike Dunk High Pro SB Futura FLOM
With the 2004 release of the Nike SB Dunk FLOM, Futura elevated the Nike Dunk High silhouette into a work of art. FLOM—an acronym meaning “For Love or Money—describes the work’s signature motif, a pattern created from different denominations of printed money. Only 24 pairs of these globally coveted Nike Dunk Highs were ever made. Most were distributed only to friends and family, making this example among the most exclusive and difficult to obtain Nike SBs of all time.
Futura Signed FLOM Skate Deck
A 2005 drop from the famed graffiti artist, this eye-catching skate deck is also adorned in Futura’s iconic money print pattern. Hot on the heels of the ultra-limited “For Love or Money” Nike Dunk High sneaker release, Futura created a selection of equally exclusive FLOM skate board decks. Each skate deck features his signature international currency motif, and is individually signed by the artist himself.
Nike Dunk Low Stash x Futura
This incredibly rare and highly sought-after 2005 Nike Dunk Low brings together two powerhouses of the street art scene—Futura and fellow graffiti artist Stash—to create a sneaker that would never be released to the public. Dressed in earthy tones, with brown uppers and olive overlays, these Nike Dunk Lows are subtly refined. The Nike ID design employs premium materials, including leather on the tongue tag and sockliner. An embroidered logo for Trenitalia—the Italian national train operating organization—hits the lateral heel.