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-Graphic courtesy of Iowa Start Line

This story first appeared at the start line in Iowa

Chris “Chrisco” Hill entered the shoe industry by selling custom painted sneakers in his dorm at Iowa Central Community College.

The main reason his work gained momentum on the school’s Fort Dodge campus was because it served as a traveling billboard for his work. Hill, a sports fanatic, personalized his shoes – usually a white Nike Air Force One – to match his jersey collection, a look others wanted to replicate.

“I had orders every week for custom stuff because we had a lot of people there who weren’t from Iowa,” Hill said, noting the diversity on campus. “A lot of people from the east coast who came to play football or if their grades weren’t good enough in Iowa or Iowa State, they went to Iowa Central.”

It would take more than a decade of trial and error, dead end jobs and several moves across the country before Hill got his first chance as an industrial designer in 2012. He worked at ID Workshop. in Portland, Oregon, followed by successful stints at Adidas and Reebok.

“At that time in my life, I never thought I would design shoes, let alone for celebrities and even less while traveling the world. said Hill, who has worked with rappers Cam’ron and Kendrick Lamar, NBA players Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard and other notable people.

Hill’s work has made him a cult figure in the sneaker community, which is no small feat for the son of a minister and who hails from small town western Iowa, who isn’t exactly known for its crowds of dedicated sneaker enthusiasts.

“Minions” x Reebok Instapump Fury Viscious 6, photo submitted

His family moved to Iowa when he was about three and spent time in Lake City and Lohrville, two towns of less than 2,000 people in Calhoun County. His love of sneakers comes from his hip-hop fan and his love for watching the kicks of his favorite professional athletes.

“I was like, ‘Man, I want to be able to create this stuff’, ‘ Hill said. “I never thought I would. I thought that was such a huge pipe dream, being a kid and living in the Midwest and especially Iowa of all places, there’s no way that would happen. “

Sometimes dreams come true.

Hill spent nearly a decade working for Reebok where he led memorable collaborations between the brand and some of hip-hop’s biggest stars, as well as with tentpole franchises such as “Ghostbusters,” “Jurassic Park”, “Powerful Morphin Power Rangers”, and more.

Reebok x “Ghost hunters” Ghost Smashers, photo submitted

With his designs, Hill tries to distinguish between making his designs appealing to collectors but also to the more general consumer who is not obsessed with sneakers and release dates.

“I want to create something that the sneakerhead really wants to wear – and I’m one of those people too,” Hill said referring to his “Minions” and “Tom and Jerry” drawings. “I try to bring a bit of streetwear flair to any of this stuff so it’s not too childish.

Pyer Moss x Reebok Mobius Experiment 3, photo submitted

Hill recently finished his run at Reebok and launched Chrisco Designs in September.

The name Chrisco Designs derives from his time at what was then Southern Cal High School in Lake City. Before making custom shoes, Hill screen printed T-shirts with his designs and had to come up with a name for his business.

“I found Chrisco, which meant ‘Chris’ Company’ and that was it,” Hill said. “I thought that was the dumbest thing ever and I was like, ‘I’m just going to change it when I’m fat or something. “”

Unfortunately for the high school version of Hill, the name Chrisco stuck.

With Chrisco Designs, Hill wants to engage clients of all sizes to help them share their identity every step of the way in the design process, from history, concept development, refinement, renderings, tech packs, color and the materials.

Depending on the scope of the project – a single shoe versus an entire collection, for example – Hill spends 50 to 300 hours creating her designs.

“I’ve probably spent a lot more time than most people, I think, because the way my brain works is if something isn’t perfect I’m not happy with it.” Hill said.

This perfectionism and great attention to detail is part of the reason why Hill’s work stands out so much in sneaker circles. With his work on the “Power Rangers” collection, for example, there is a sneaker dedicated to the original five rangers and one for the Megazord, a giant robot formed by combining the Dinozord of each ranger. If a collector acquires these six sneakers and their boxes, they can craft a 3ft 5in Megazord with Power Sword.

Hill is not sure where he directly draws his inspiration from to create, but his work is often an amalgamation of personal interests.

“There was just something in me that wanted to create stuff,” he said. “I was into comics or toys or sneakers, especially sports, I think that stuff was so cool, it made me want to create cool stuff too.”

Cam’Ron x Reebok fan, photo submitted

Thanks to his work, he was able to meet a who’s who of celebrities and athletes; What he liked most about it, however, were the places his career took him. He’s been to London, Milan, Rome, Seoul and more, his work footing the bill.

“I was able to see the Sistine Chapel because of my work. You know? I was able to see the Colosseum because of that, which is crazy ”, he said. “Yeah, this stuff is amazing. Like I said, it’s literally like a dream job.

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