The Last Dance and the pandemic have invigorated nostalgia like never before. The momentum has surged into the trading card world and sneaker culture alike as classic silhouettes go for top dollar. Holographic Pikachu cards and Prizm Panini cards are exploding in the aftermarket.
Peter Richter, known best under his artistic alias of Floppy Action, knows all about this recent boom. As an artist and lover of basketball and its embedded sneaker culture, Floppy Action has mastered his craft in this competitive space. With a number of projects under his belt, his latest might be his best yet.
Ahead of the shoe’s and card’s release, we chopped it up with the artist and discussed his journey, the current nostalgia-driven market, and what it’s like to work on a project of this magnitude.
Read what he had to say below.
The Reebok Answer IV in red, white, and grey releases on April 15 on Reebok.com and select retailers. Stay tuned to Nice Kicks’ Instagram for a chance to win an Allen Iverson signed version of Floppy Action’s creation. Tap into the Reebok release dates page to stay on top of the latest news.
Peter’s Transformation into Floppy Action
Nice Kicks: How did your passion and artistic journey begin?
Floppy Action: I always liked art. I was struggling in my art class during high school. It was me and eight other kids. They were all brilliant. The teacher pulls me aside and says, “I know you’re struggling. You’re not here because you’re not good at drawing, you’re not good at art. You’re creative. It’s your ideas that push you forward.” That broke me. I stopped drawing at that point.
Three and a half years ago, my wife and I adopted a rescue puppy. He’s great, but he wakes up at 4 a.m., so I start playing with these art apps on an iPad. She suggested that I post them online, so I pick the weirdest handle that’s basketball-related and started posting.
Within a year, I talked to the NBA for a project, and now it’s become my mornings, my evenings, my lunch breaks, everything. I’m trying to grow my skills and change up my style. Trying to stay relevant to brands to keep bushing it in this sports-art subculture. Once something is hot, it gets copied. I get it. I’m always doing everything I can to zag.
Art’s opened up a whole new mental state that’s pushed me out there.
Floppy Action on His Most Memorable Basketball and Sneaker Moments
NK: Do you have a favorite basketball/sneaker moment?
FA: The iconic moment where Jordan brings out the Jordan 1s for the Double Nickel.
The other top memory of mine was the Dee Brown dunk with the Pumps. I loved it for the showmanship of it. That’s one of the first theatrics that went to the All-Star Game. He doesn’t get enough credit. He legit could not see.
The step over on Ty Lue. That moment is bigger than anything else in that series. Iverson always had a top play, a moment, a stare, a look. He’s had so many. That’s up there with “Practice” and the crossover over Jordan. I love the way he played.
NK: There’s been a huge boom of nostalgia with cards, sneakers, vintage clothes, and even brands adopting it. How has that hurt or helped your creative process?
FA: From a creative standpoint, I went back to old card designs and new ones and did comparisons.
It’s interesting seeing the Prizm launch and how that design is so simple. The way that gloss plays with that metal design piece is very interesting. Without being a trained artist, I always have to change my brain and how I see things. I’ve been playing a lot with animation too.
Some cool things are coming down the line in the NFT space. I just keep asking myself – How can I push forward? How can I go outside the box?
My day job is in marketing with a lot of print pieces. We agreed on a spot gloss on the shoe to make it pop. What would you chase? How do you make the shoe stand out without overdoing it? We did a full conscious look with a nice shine.
Working with Reebok
NK: How did your projects with Reebok start?
FA: Right before the pandemic kicked in, it started with a DM and then a phone call the next day. I was in my old office looking at my back window and thought, “I have a shot right now to work on a piece for a Kamikaze II?! What?”
As a child, that’s the shoe I always wanted. To do that and then make that vision happen, I couldn’t have been more excited. We incorporated future launches as Easter eggs.
Balancing Artistic Direction and Inspiration
NK: When you’re creating and drawing from specific moments, players or shoes, how do you balance all of that top choose from?
FA: I try to come up with a base pose for the player. Once the player is established, I think about what compliments that player best.
Paper and labels inspire me. Labels to the point that I buy things not to use but because I like to look at them. I like the old labels. Paper is interesting because, in a digital form, there’s no touch. You lose that. I have texture folders and brushes on my programs because you lose that feeling and try to get it into the digital pieces.
In November, I drew Stacey Abrams in a comic book cover style. Someone emailed me saying they loved the poster but said that the text wasn’t aligned, and there were some speckles and wanted to get a new one. I suspected that it wasn’t a printing error. I wrote her an email saying that I used old Captain America covers as inspiration. I purposely misaligned text and used halftone brushes and paper textures because those errors were frequently found on old superhero comic books. I told her I could send her a new one without those effects.
She emailed me back the nicest email saying that she loved it now that she understood those choices.
The Importance of Working on the Return of the Answer IV
NK: The Answer IV is iconic because of its look as well as its memorable on-court performances. As Reebok taps the OG colorways, what’s it been like for you to be a part of it as a partner and a fan?
FA: Surreal. There’s no project that could compare to this one.
It’s the shoe that all my friends had growing up. If we did not get an AI card in the pack, we were pissed. To have a little voice in this story, I don’t know what my life is. It feels surreal.
I have 90 AI files on my iPad from this project. There are 35 I never emailed over. I didn’t sweat it. I loved it. I couldn’t stop. The positions he got into in the air, you could do anything.