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On the occasion of Air Max Day 2023‘, we want to celebrate Nike’s legendary model through the artists, designers and creatives who have most drawn inspiration from its iconic silhouette.
Among them is Jonas Cozone.
He is not an artist like the others, nor a sneakerhead like the others, he is practically obsessed with streetwear fashion and the Air Max.
His cartoons are inspired by 90s settings and are populated by animals – mostly rats, cats and dogs – dressed in vintage streetwear and Air Max archive models: the trainers are depicted with an almost maniacal meticulousness, with attention to the smallest details.
Born in Belgium, Cozone manifested a youthful passion for the world of sneakers and drawing as a teenager, when he tried his hand at skateboarding and frequented the Hip Hop scene and the writers in his neighborhood.
He decided to devote himself to the representation of subcultures, creating his first amateur illustrative works.
At the same time, he enrolled and attended an art institute, where he obtained a master’s degree in illustration. The combination of study and street background gave rise to what would become his illustrative work, as unmistakable as it is unique.
Cozone‘s love for Air Maxes began in the late 1990s, when he came into contact with the Dutch Gabber subculture. The gabbers had adopted the Air Max BW as the poster child for the underground scene; just as Italian clubbers had done with the Air Max 97 and British clubbers with the Air Max 95. To each Air Max corresponded a subculture: a way of recognizing oneself, identifying oneself and above all standing out from ‘ordinary’ people.
Jonas is deeply fascinated by this world, made up of behavioural codes and stylistic rules to be followed, almost religiously.
The encounter with the Air Max BW, but also AM1, AM90 and TN, was natural for Cozone. He studies the attitudes and aptitudes of the wearer, and draws them on paper, adding a personal touch: it is not humans who sport them, but animals.
He approached Franco-Belgian Hip Hop culture in the late 1990s and early 2000s: in this environment, he began to appreciate brands such as Lacoste, Axion, DC, Lakai, éS; which all the boys, including the rappers on the covers of Hip Hop records, wear with Air Max.
From that moment on, owning them was almost a necessity for him.
Jonas’s illustrated tales all have a 90s cartoon matrix, with vivid colors and humorous traits; the rats, cats, dogs and birds that populate his suburban world are animals you might actually find in big cities, who here fight in maxi fights, go to concerts and shop for trainers.
The choice of animals also stems from a great passion of his: he loves them and likes to represent them as if they were human; as he said in an interview with Sneaker Freaker:
“I can vary a lot more with animal faces than when I only draw humans. There are so many different species, colours, shapes, etc. Animals like dogs, cats and rats are typically found in cities, so they fit perfectly with the urban setting of my illustrations. I also like to combine cartoon / Disney characters with the rough atmosphere of the street, because it creates a fun contrast.”