Interview with Miami artist Alvaro “Freegums” Ilizarbe – Talks Art Basel and his recent Lebron 9 Sneaker Collab with Nike


We caught up with Alvaro “Freegums” Ilizarbe, a Miami based artist known for his trademark black and white designs and pieces. He recently collaborated with Nike for a special edition of the Nike Lebron 9 sneaker, which will be released soon. We caught up with him for a quick couple a questions to discuss the sneaker, as well as Art Basel and a little bit about him and his style. Click below to learn more about the Freegums movement….

The305: So tell us a little bit about yourself….
I permanently moved to Miami when I was 9. Grew up in Kendall and went to college at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale for graphic design. I don’t travel as much as I would like to, but I do love Miami. With the availability of access through the internet, it has become easier to see what people are up to in different parts of the world. It doesn’t matter where you do something, as long as you make it available on the web anyone can see it. I focus on showing my work outside of Miami as well. The more different places I have my work, the more people can see it first hand too.

The305: If you can, give us a little overall description about your work and style…
My work is B/W [black and white]. For special occasions color is added, but I feel most comfortable with black and white. Color directs a mood to the work that I want to leave up to the viewer to impose. The work is very linear, graphic and I love to make never ending patterns. The fact that a piece can go on forever in any direction is amazing. There is a strong focus on the depiction of the unseen forces e.g. energy, deities, space, and the supernatural.

The305: How have you liked Miami and its flourishing art scene and do you have any plans for this year’s Art Basel events?
I love Miami and there is definitely a growing focus of the arts in the city. I like that but I don’t like the extra stuff as much. Extra meaning, it has become way more of a social activity than an arts appreciation one. I went to going to all the art walks and looking forward to them, to now avoiding them. The last few I went to I felt like I was walking through the youth fair, it’s a zoo out there. For this years Basel I’m looking forward to the unKnwn store opening since I will be involved with that. All I can say is to come out for it! I always try to see what I can but feel like there is too much than I can handle. ‘Pick and choose your battles’ is a very appropriate phrase on how to handle events during the december week.

The305: How did the collaboration with Lebron and Nike come about? How was the design process and the overall experience working on the release?
The collaboration came about through references for a different project. Nike did some research as they always do and they got to me. I got to go to their headquarters for a talk and they took a liking to my work. They showed me the ins and out of their research program and I was deeply impressed. For the shoe, the design process was pretty hands off. Miami & Lebron. That was the focus behind the work. They knew from seeing my work what I was capable of, so there was a good understanding between us. I gave them something I was proud of, something they could work with. I didn’t know what the shoe was going to look like so it was a surprise. I’m really honored to have worked on this.

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