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South African Illustrator Karabo Poppy’s Take on Sneaker Culture Celebrates African Design

Inspiration can be a virtuous circle, and there’s no better evidence of it than the life of South African multi-disciplinary artist, Karabo Poppy. Although she never even met an artist until she was in high school, she found inspiration from artwork that promoted positive images of black people, particularly sneaker ads. Her simultaneous venturing into the worlds of art and sneaker culture reinforced both obsessions and ultimately led to her designing several collections for Nike. The Air Force 1 has been both an inspiration and a launching pad for Poppy’s career. From drawing on the shoes with whiteout in high school, to painting her first mural while wearing a pair, she says it was monumental to see her name stitched onto a shoe that’s been such a big part of her journey. Most recently, she worked with Nike on a release of the Jordan “Why Not?” Zer0.4 sneaker, basketball player Russell Westbrook’s latest signature shoe.