Sneakers Unmasked: Freehand Profit

What if we told you there’s a guy that takes your favorite kicks and cuts them up to use as materials for his art pieces? Your first thought would likely lead you to believe that this person is crazy or really doesn’t know the value of good kicks. On the flip side this person is the complete opposite and possesses a unique talent that has never been executed at such an extreme level. It’s also fair to say that this person is just getting started at unleashing his special gift. I present to you Gary Lockwood aka the Freehand Profit.

When did you realize you have a passion for sneakers?
Sneakers have been important to me since I started listening to Hip-Hop as a kid. In high school it was all about Adidas and New Balance, college was the Air Force 1s and Timberland boots. I was a big fan of Akademiks clothing back in ‘03-’04 I think it was, I was super amped when they released their first kicks. I’ve always been drawn to skate shoes too, mostly because they’re wider – I can’t skateboard for shit and therefore don’t. The passion for sneakers has boiled over in the past few years though. Especially since it’s my creative outlet now.

How many sneakers do you own?
Right around 50 pairs.

What was the worst sneaker you owned as a kid?
I didn’t grow up with brand name sneakers. My folks took me shoe shopping at PayLess. It wasn’t until I got my first job at 14 and could buy my own shoes that I had any real say in what was on my feet. I’m glad my folks raised me that way, it tends to keep the “thirst” away- lol.

If you could re-release any sneaker, what sneaker would it be?
Tough call, Oreo IVs probably. I’m a sucker for tumbled leather on Jordans. Or how about instead of a “re”-release can we see a quickstrike of the ‘Red Tails’ Vs that they auctioned off?

Is there a brand you wouldn’t be caught wearing?
I’m sure there is, I like to focus more on the brands that I can’t wait to wear again.

“I have certain pieces that I need to assemble and it’s important for me to consciously work with the lines designed in the shoe.”

Is there a brand you refuse to use in your creations?
Not as of yet, as long as they’re authentic and dope shoes I look forward to working with a wide variety of brands. There was even talk with a military boot company on a collaboration, each different type of shoe can make new and interesting masks.

What made you think of converting a sneaker into a gas mask?
It all started with my year-long, daily project MASK365. I was looking to work with new materials to keep it interesting. The first piece of it’s kind was made from a Gucci hand bag and I loved working with the materials and the results – I wanted to work with materials I cared and knew about. So I picked up some SB Blazers at a Nike Outlet for $20/pair and been cutting up my favorite kicks ever since.

What were some of the design challenges you faced in the early stages of creating masks?
Every mask presents new challenges, early on I tested and worked with a lot of different adhesives – to this day I use a variety, now I know how to best utilize their strengths. I also had to learn pattern-making, I still don’t do it “properly” but I’ve developed my own techniques.

Once you’ve finalized a design, how long does it take to produce a mask?
It’s not really that type of design process, it’s much more organic. There aren’t really planning sketches, it’s more like a puzzle. I have certain pieces that I need to assemble and it’s important for me to consciously work with the lines designed in the shoe. Kind of like a DJ sampling a record, dissection, re-appropriation and creation.

Are the masks preserved in any special way to prevent the sneaker materials from deteriorating over time?
These masks will never be archival like the Mona Lisa but the masks are just a part of the work. The photographs that I take of the masks are the “end product” for lack of a better word. If I’m lucky and work hard enough to make an impact on the art world the prints will be what lives on. The masks are treated with sneaker protectant sprays and leather and rubber have pretty good lifespans. I don’t/haven’t yet used any midsoles in any of the masks so no worries on the dreaded “deadstock crumble”.

Is there a sneaker you’re anxiously waiting to convert into a mask?
You’ll have to ask me again soon, I’m finally going to chop up my favorite Js – the Vs hit my Chopping Block this week.

What is the concept behind your book “Army of the Undeadstock?”
“Army of the Undeadstock” is a collection of the masks I’ve made over the years and some really cool exclusives no one has seen yet. Each mask will be accompanied by a haiku written by San Diego poet B(e)Selah. There will also be blurbs from the blog and some new writing from me. The idea behind the title is that I want to encourage people to wear their kicks. It’s bigger than our kicks though, we gotta shake the mentality of being afraid to get our hands dirty. Sure beats dying on the shelf.

Have you received any feedback from any of the brands you’ve used in your designs?
A few have reached out, I’m still a relatively small fish though. My work can seem a little out in left field to some, they don’t know quite how to apply my talents yet I’m guessing. I’m looking forward to proving just what I bring to the table.

Which sneaker has been your biggest challenge and why?
I’m working with some Foamposite ACG boots as a test before I attempt a “true” Foamposite mask. It’s been tough, the material is stubborn. I’ll make it work though.

Aside from masks, are there any other concepts you would experiment with using sneakers?
You’ll see. I have quite a few plans. All in due time.

What are your top 3 kicks of all time?
Raging Bull Vs, Tauntaun SB Dunks & just about any Air Max 90.


There’s no doubt that we have plenty to look forward to from the Freehand Profit. In the meantime be on the lookout in November for the “Army of the Undeadstock” book and check out www.PROFITink.com to get your hands on some of his work.

  • SneakerKing

    This is probably the most creative shit I’ve seen! Sick!

  • J-Swift

    This would be the ONLY time I would let my kicks get cut up into pieces! These masks are INCREDIBLE!!! Good work!

  • Jamal Qazi

    Definitely a talent to be recognized, with Halloween around the corner I feel like MASK’n up with the ugliest shoes ever made. @j_Swift416 any suggestions?

    • J-Swift

      I would opt out for the Adidas Dikembe Mutimbo sneakers…lawd just the thought of them sneakers makes me shiver! Yikes! Just horrible LOL

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Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.