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MAWdoods’ box art is a shoe-in

Creating “kixed” artwork, one shoe box at a time

By Rachel Sankey

Mitch Wach, who goes by MAWdoods, creates art out of shoe boxes. Zach Lasee photo

Sneakerheads (or those who collect shoes) are going to want to sit down for this one. Mitch Wach, who goes by the name MAWdoods, is the creator behind the original shoe box series – original pieces of artwork made with shoe boxes from brands such as Nike.

The name MAWdoods comes from Wach’s initials and “doods” standing for doodles.

MAWdoods started to get into art doodling throughout high school. He said it wasn’t until about four years ago when he started an Instagram page featuring his work that he started to see how the doodling could take shape.

“I was really passionate about drawing shoes my whole life, my dream job as a kid was to be a shoe designer,” MAWdoods said.
MAWdoods took his designs one step further when he started experimenting with shoe boxes.

“The point that hinges is when I saw a shoe box and I said, ‘Oh, it kind of looks like a sword,’ and I drew a guy on the box so that the sword was going through his back and I called it death by sneakers,” MAWdoods said. “I was spending a lot of money on shoes and was like, ‘They’re going to be the death of me.’”

After creating his first piece of shoe box art, he decided to try and create three to four more pieces with the other shoe boxes, MAWdoods said.

“Since then it’s ballooned into something much greater.”

The idea of using shoe boxes to create art inspired MAWdoods to try out some more designs on other shoeboxes. His design ideas blew up from there. MAWdoods started to draw, carve, cut and weave shoe boxes together. He said he doesn’t draw shoes much any more, but the majority of his inspiration still comes from the street culture centered around them.

“A lot of people tell me that my artwork has an amount of hype behind it,” MAWdoods said. “You can’t really define what that means but it’s just kind of how they define it to me. It’s like you see a piece that you like that just kind of has this “it” factor that’s different and has never been seen before.”

MAWdoods tries to keep the shoe box as intact as possible. This piece is called “Spray Swoosh” and uses a Nike shoe box

Kixed media

MAWdoods describes his work as “kixed media,” a play on mixed media and sneakers, or “kicks.”

“I don’t want to say I invented a genre,” MAWdoods said, “but that I kind of created a lane into a genre that I think not a lot of people are doing. It’s better to be known for something than being randomly known for a lot of things.”

MAWdoods uses shoe boxes to create his unique pieces of art, like this piece, titled “Champion Cigar”

When it comes to his “kixed” media, MAWdoods said it’s important for him to try and keep the original shoe box as intact as possible. This way people are able to put two and two together to realize that he isn’t just using Nike’s swoosh, but the entire box.

There are a bunch of deconstructed Nike shoe boxes around MAWdoods’ studio. When he started creating more shoe box art, MAWdoods said he had to start reaching out to other sources to keep creating.

“I’ve walked into Nike Outlets and shown them my work and said, ‘Hey, I make stuff out of shoe boxes.’ They rip off the tops of shoe boxes for the outlets on the back wall, so I ask, ‘If you’re just recycling these can I have them,’” MAWdoods said. “But some of the more elaborate shoe boxes like colorful ones are harder to find. Those I usually get from friends in the area or people that have bought work from me before they donate them.”

MAWdoods said he’s paid up to 50 to 60 dollars for a certain colored shoe box or style.

A second medium

MAWdoods also makes a lot of portraits with markers, which he said he considers his second medium. He has created portraits of Mac Miller, Randy Moss, Giannis Antetokounmpo and more. He said there is quite a contrast from his “kixed” media.

“Obviously I have an end goal in mind in terms of what the piece is supposed to look like, you want it to look like a person,” MAWdoods said. “A lot of the experimentation with a portrait is color; finding the color palette. I like creating color combinations and different palettes that are just kind of unique.”

His Mac Miller portrait, for example, uses softer pastel colors such as yellow, blue and purple along with more bold colors like different shades of green and brown. The portrait makes up Mac Miller’s face with the use of different shapes and zig zags.

MAWdoods said he has had the chance to work with Spotify, a popular audio streaming service, on creating portraits of influential rappers and artists such as Lil Peep, Juice WRLD and Tupac for RapCaviar, Spotify’s most popular hip-hop playlist.

NFL teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots as well as NBA teams like the New York Knicks and Memphis Grizzlies have also reached out to MAWdoods.

“Pittsburgh Steelers wanted a shoe box piece which I did, and then someone bought it, like a Pittsburgh fan from TikTok,” MAWdoods said. “Other ones I’ve just engaged, but at the beginning of the year I told myself I didn’t want to take on any commissions… I’m not taking anything on because I want to spend time on what I’ve got going on.”

Another part of why he said he doesn’t take commissions is due to his lack of time. He said he prefers to spend his free time creating more pieces.

“And that gives me a lot of power to experiment and create pieces that I’m proud of,” MAWdoods said. “Not that I wouldn’t be proud of something that I’ve done for somebody, but it’s not my idea wholeheartedly.”

Art is timeless

MAWdoods said one of the struggles he has when creating his work, specifically his cut-out shoe box designs, is that people don’t realize how long it takes to complete a piece from start to finish. He also has to balance his creative side with his full-time job.

“That one I’m probably like 20 hours in already,” MAWdoods said gesturing to a shoe box creation he was working on, “which like, you’re looking at it and thinking, ‘well, what have you done,’ but I think it was probably an hour or two for the drawing aspect, like the hiker, and then from there it’s a lot of thinking.”

One of MAWdoods’ original creations called “Nike Hikey

Before even putting the pieces together, MAWdoods said there’s a lot of looking at the piece, measuring, making sure the pieces are straight and to proportion and more.

To continue challenging himself creatively, MAWdoods said he’s also started branching out from shoe boxes and started adding recycled materials from other brands, such as Gucci, and seeing how he can add them into pieces.

“I’m passionate about continuing to push the envelope for myself and see what I can create with the materials I have,” MAWdoods said.

When he began to create outside of work, MAWdoods said he started drawing with pens and markers a few nights a week. When he was consistent and started to see results, he said it became a habit, and then later a priority. The progress may not be noticeable, but MAWdoods said it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

“I think a lot of people will say ‘oh man, I can’t believe you haven’t blown up yet,’ and it’s like, I get it but you’re not seeing the little things that are happening behind the scenes in order to, quote unquote, blow up,” MAWdoods said. “You have to do the work.”

Green Bay’s art scene

MAWdoods said he thinks the art scene in Green Bay is increasingly relevant and underrated.

“I think it’s mildly underrated but I think that’s largely because of the demographic of consumers rather than the demographic and type of creators. I think that the consumer and Green Bay still need to be educated,” MAWdoods said. “It’s just not a very art-focused community. And I think the artist has a responsibility to show their work or try to get in front of people… I think there’s a lot of opportunity in the Green Bay market, because it’s not saturated with artists.”

Continuing the heat

MAWdoods’ plan for the future is to keep on kicking and creating.

“I’ve never been like a ‘big things coming’ kind of guy. I just let the work speak for itself,” MAWdoods said. “I don’t get discouraged or frustrated but I kind of chuckle when people are like ‘big things are in the works’ because if you follow me long enough you’ll realize that there’s always something coming that’s new.”

He said he’s not going to talk about it, but be about it, and that’s what he wants to be known for. Instead of having his face at the forefront, he said he wants to fly under the radar and make sure that it’s his work that is front and center.

“I think it’s important just knowing that if you like doing something or you feel like you’re skilled and want to make a change or create something for yourself, you need patience and to put the time in and good things will come from it. Cream always rises to the top,” MAWdoods said.

You can check out MAWdoods’ work on his Instagram page @mawdoods

Rachel Sankey is the Arts and Entertainment Reporter for Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

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