Art Who is the 12-year-old artist working with Nike?

Who is the 12-year-old artist working with Nike?

Tommaso Berra
Doodle Boy |

I well remember the day when the caretaker of the junior high school I attended came into the classroom and told the teacher that one particular desk was always scribbled on, so much so that she could not clean it. Her complaint was a legitimate one, the desk was mine, as was the scolding and consequent sense of inconsolable shame. I scribbled on the bench out of boredom, even carving it with a box cutter and compasses, leaving grooves that didn’t sit well with the homework during drawing time. What drove Joe Whale aka Doodle Boy was not boredom, but a natural inclination to doodle and draw imaginary characters on any surface, which initially annoyed the teachers, until an art teacher’s insight enabled the 12-year-old from Shrewsbury to work for NBC and land a contract with Nike.

Doodle Boy |

The story of Joe Whale was recently reported in The Times, which explained how a boy from a small English town on the Welsh border became first a social phenomenon with 125,000 followers on Instagram, then the face chosen by Nike for a digital campaign to encourage children’s creativity.
It was Joe’s secondary school drawing teacher who noticed Joe’s innate propensity to create drawings, prompting his parents to set up a social profile for the boy in which he could unleash his creativity. From there, Doodle Boy started collecting his illustrations on a website where he also started selling prints and a merch with T-shirts and sweatshirts. In the introduction we read that his favourite subjects are “food, monsters and aliens”, always stylised in black in a style reminiscent of Keith Haring.

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Doodle Boy’s first jobs soon arrived: a restaurant in Shrewsbury commissioned him to create a mural, a small step that continued with the creation of walls for a hospital, but also illustrations for a children’s book series and for the set of an NBC television programme. Prince William and Kate Middleton personally commissioned Doodle Boy to represent one of the Dukes of Cambridge’s train tours, while the latest call came directly from the leading sportswear brand: Nike.
After seeing the pair of Nike shoes that Joe made and customised for his father, the swoosh decided to offer the artist a contract, hiring him as a co-creator for digital content that encourages children’s creativity. Doodle Boy applied.

Written by Tommaso Berra
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