Lewiston Teacher Designs Hot Custom Cleats for Pro Athletes

Professional football and baseball players are head over heels for how Eamon White snazzes up their footwear.

Custom cleat design by Eamon White
Photograph by Eamon White
By Joel Crabtree
From our January 2022 issue

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.

Shoes aren’t White’s only artistic pursuit. A portrait he made of George Floyd, after Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police, went viral in 2020. He has since held arts residencies at Portland’s Indigo Arts Alliance and Space gallery. Photograph by Samantha Jamison

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.”