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Hazel Dell teacher creates custom shoes for college, pro athletes

By , Columbian staff writer
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King's Way Christian Schools art teacher Justin Tigner, a professional sports artist, is traveling with the University of Oregon football team this fall as its game-day artist doing hand-painted shoe designs. Tigner also designs custom shoes and cleats for clientele including NFL players. He said he plans to blend two previous designs for custom shoes, a creation to be raffled off during Oregon football's alumni and donor tailgate Saturday at Ohio State.
King's Way Christian Schools art teacher Justin Tigner, a professional sports artist, is traveling with the University of Oregon football team this fall as its game-day artist doing hand-painted shoe designs. Tigner also designs custom shoes and cleats for clientele including NFL players. He said he plans to blend two previous designs for custom shoes, a creation to be raffled off during Oregon football's alumni and donor tailgate Saturday at Ohio State. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Justin Tigner is about to find out how well his home art studio travels on the road.

The locations? Ohio State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington.

“It’s comical how much I need to take,” Tigner said. “If I didn’t make a list, I’d forget way too many things.”

When the 12th-ranked Oregon Ducks (1-0) face No. 3 Ohio State (1-0) on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, Tigner will be in attendance, too, but not before being on center stage hand-painting a custom pair of white sneakers during a pre-game tailgate event for Oregon alumni and donors.

Tigner teaches art at King’s Way Christian Schools in Hazel Dell and is also a professional sports artist, with a clientele ranging from collegiate athletics to pro athletes.

Call him the Ducks’ traveling shoe artist now, too, getting all-expenses-paid road trips to Ohio State, UCLA, Stanford and Washington to, yes, paint.

A native of Eugene, Ore., Tigner is a Ducks season-ticket holder who has worked with various branches of the Oregon athletic department since 1999. He’s been licensed to do artwork for Oregon since 2010, and he has expanded his client list to include designing custom cleats for Las Vegas Raiders quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariotta.

Tigner also did work this summer for former Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert, now with the Los Angeles Chargers.

But this new and unique opportunity to travel and paint for the Ducks rises to the top of Tigner’s list of experiences. Oregon donor relations recently reached out to Tigner seeking an artistic way to boost the game-day road experience for alumni and donor events.

Sketches? Not quite. Try sneakers.

“Watching me paint or draw on canvas is boring,” Tigner said, “but painting on shoes is a little more exciting because it’s something you don’t see often.”

For Tigner, painting shoe designs is relatively new, too. It wasn’t until 2018, when a King’s Way Christian student suggested an art class on custom shoe designs, that Tigner’s artwork expanded beyond sketches and canvas to shoes.

So when the Ducks came calling, the question of how long it takes to hand-paint sneakers turned into Tigner creating a football game-day traveling to-do list. Time can vary based on shoe-design creativity, but the inaugural design will be a combination of two prior ones that should take about four hours, he said.

Tigner will be painting on a center stage within the alumni and donor area. He said he welcomes interaction. The shoes will be raffled off, and the winner gets custom, hand-painted Oregon Ducks shoes by Tigner at a later date.

It’s all part of the all-expenses-paid trips to Oregon football games for Tigner and his wife, Erin, which includes a game-day ticket. Tigner said he is also grateful that King’s Way allows him to miss school days in order to travel.

“I’ll be lacking some sleep the first few months of school,” he said, “but I think I can still function pretty well.”

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