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Jappy Agoncillo, from murals to The DON

How a Filipino muralist designed an Adidas sneaker.

Drawing has always been Jappy Agoncillo’s thing. Back in school, his notebook would be filled with sketches, from comic book characters to designs of the high-top sneakers that were all the rage back in high school. He was that kid in class—much to the disdain of his teachers.

“My teachers [would say], nothing’s gonna happen if you always draw,” Jappy tells SLAM Philippines. 

Fast forward over a decade later, and they couldn’t be more wrong. Jappy has become one of the most prolific artists in the country, with countless murals and illustrations that you’ve most likely seen around the metro. His latest work is on a different medium: the D.O.N. Issue #3 “Origin Story” in collaboration with Adidas, launched on June 10 at the Adidas Brand Center in Glorietta 3. 

Jappy’s take on Donovan Mitchell’s signature shoe was years in the making. He first landed on Adidas’ radar back in 2019 after doing live art during a launch and making custom patch designs for their VRCT jacket. So when they came calling two years later to design a shoe, it was an opportunity he couldn’t resist.

“I drew my face off for a whole week,” Jappy, smiling, recalls after Adidas asked him to pitch a design. But even before drawing anything, Jappy went on a two-day Donovan Mitchell rabbit hole, watching everything—his games, interviews, commercials; basically anything under the sun about the Utah Jazz All-Star.

“I remember telling my friends and family that it’s like I’m [Donovan’s] best friend,” Jappy jokes. “I know his birthday. I know the names of his parents. I know what pizza he likes. It was a lot of research to get as many details and as much of his character into the shoe as possible.”

The depth of Jappy’s research shows in the final design. The heel, for example, features a tiger stripe pattern as an ode to Donovan’s middle school team, the Greenwich Country Day School Tigers, and Jappy’s own signature mark. The insole also has illustrations of Louie Armstrong and Charlie Parker, two African-American jazz legends, paying homage to Donovan’s black heritage.

He also got inspiration from other sneakers, specifically the classic low-top Adidas Superstars. “I remember the Beastie Boys would write on the sides of their Superstars,” Jappy explains. “So, I wanted to put designs on the heel side.”

Put it all together— the Utah-inspired, Manila-flavored, injected with Jappy’s signature colorful look—gives the D.O.N. Issue #3 “Origin Story” a head-turning design on the court. It’s a sneaker inspired by Mitchell but uniquely Jappy. Had you told Jappy over a decade ago, the one drawing Batman and Dragon Ball sketches during class, that he’d have his own freaking Adidas sneaker, he probably wouldn’t believe you. 

“It’s still a surprise to me even today, standing here,” Jappy says during the launch. And if there’s one thing he’d tell his younger self, it’d be patience. “Eventually the opportunity will come about. It’s not gonna happen in your first year of working. It’s not gonna happen in your fifth year of working. Just keep working and it’ll come.”