Growing up, painting and football were Eamon White’s two loves. He picked up painting from his grandmother, a watercolorist who lived in Damariscotta, and he started with football in middle school, in Portland, before playing at the University of Maine and Massachusetts’s Merrimack College. Since then, the 32-year-old has been teaching and coaching — presently, he teaches art in Lewiston schools and coaches Scarborough High’s JV football squad. In 2020, though, he dove into a side hustle that merged his aesthetic and athletic passions: stylizing cleats. He started out cold-contacting professional athletes on Instagram, and his first client was J.T. Hassell, then a defensive back with the New York Jets, who wanted a pair that promoted the Lucky Fin Project, a charity supporting children with underdeveloped hands. Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Cyril Grayson Jr. ordered a pair with a superhero theme. Portland Sea Dogs shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald requested a sky-blue pair trimmed in pink and gold.
White decorates the cleats using leather paint and a combination of brushes and airbrushes, and he charges about $250 a pair, depending on how involved the design is. Working on a small, foot-shaped canvas is a challenge he enjoys. “Maybe it turns into a full-fledged business, maybe it doesn’t,” he says. “But it let’s me try new things, and I’m having fun with it.”