*Post written by ArtWorks apprentices
Our very first day of work, before we knew what sneaker design meant or even each others’ names, Van asked us to draw whatever we desired on a blank piece of paper. For some, this meant flowers or fancy initials; for the real artists in the room, though, it became so much more. Using only pencil, paper, and the depths of our imaginations, our co-op created an entire world and story. Set in futuristic Tokyo, our story chronicled the adventures of Erius, a superhero with ghostly powers who fiercely protects his city, and Cyrus, his technology-enhanced rodent nemesis. But unlike the typical superhero story, where the hero defeats the villain and gets the girl, Erius is forced to make a major sacrifice – his superpowers that have always defined him – to save the city that he loves so much. From here, our project only grew bigger.
Inspired by Erius’s sacrifice, the sneaker design co-op decided to take Erius from the paper and turn him into a real-life hero; a person who, no matter what sacrifices he or she must make, works tirelessly for the city of Cleveland. And though we searched all over for someone we felt strongly embodied Erius, it turns out that we didn’t even need to leave the Halle Building. Our Erius can be found working every day downstairs at the Susy’s Soup cart: Jeff Tickett. Jeff is no ordinary vendor; when you buy your lunch from him, it becomes more an experience than a transaction. He is one of the kindest, friendliest people you will ever get the chance to meet. The first time that each of us ordered food, he took the time to ask us our names, shake our hands, and try to learn more about us. First-time customers soon become regulars, and Jeff always knows their order. And not only does Jeff greet each customer with a wide smile and a conversation, but he also looks out for us in a way that we’ve never experienced before. If you come up a couple of cents short, which would normally force you to surrender your meal, Jeff has you covered. If you accidentally order the wrong food, Jeff will happily switch it out for you, even if you’re already at the register. If your credit card won’t work, Jeff will let you take your food with an IOU. Jeff truly has the kindest heart; he serves as a daily inspiration to us all.
At our Culminating Event on July 24, the sneaker design co-op plans to salute Jeff’s service and dedication to improving our city, one smile and bowl of soup at a time. We hope to present him with a special pair of custom sneakers featuring the character of Erius as a thank-you for all he has done for us.