Tag Archives: RDQLUS

Steve Gordon

January 22, 2019 by

Branding has gotten a little ridiculous. Specifically, a growing list of organizations, including Nike, have been getting RDQLUS, courtesy of creator Steve Gordon.

When the limited edition Cultivator X Nike “CODES” Capsule Collection became available on Oct. 15, 2018, most sneakerheads might not have guessed that the sleek, globally-inspired set of shoes were designed by a branding specialist and graphic designer based in Omaha. 

The exclusive set of three pairs of shoes designed by Gordon represents years of global travel, networking, and brand development.

Cultivator, an incubator-style startup platform to support creatives who make good use of social media, is the latest iteration of a program on Nike’s campus that has been developing for years. While celebrity designs have been common in the sneaker market since the mid-1980s, the Cultivator program is changing the marketing game for the social media era. The idea of the program is to tap into a new market of customers interested in supporting the work of local creatives they follow on social media and know in person. 

Gordon, owner of RDQLUS Creative, works with several brand and design clientele. He has hosted a live sneaker podcast with a group called Obsessive Sneaker Disorder, and he also co-founded Connoshoer, an app that allowed shoe collectors to share their favorite kicks on social media.

So when Leslie Bradshaw, a friend who works at Nike, invited Gordon to be part of the first class in the Cultivator program, Gordon could not pass up the opportunity. He created his 2012 “Classy Concrete” pack for Nike. The shoes sold with “some success” and, in 2017, he was invited back to the Cultivator program, this time creating the “Citizen of the Globe” pack.

He sees the Cultivator project as an asset to both Nike and the designers involved. “I think it’s a great program. That is a big part of sneaker and style culture, the exposure. The intent of the program is to introduce new faces that tell stories,” he says.

These sneakers were exclusively available for seven days, and Gordon, as designer, earned 10 percent of the sales. Gordon, however, created the project more for the exposure than the money. Named the Codes collection, these sneakers expand on the “Citizen of the Globe” collection and are based around the global airport coding system. Each of the three distinct shoe designs in the collection features a code—CPH for Copenhagen, LHR for London Heathrow, and ARN for Stockholm Arlanda—and symbolizes the city in which the airport resides. 

Gordon visited all three airports in summer 2017. Travel plays a key role in his life. He frequently travels as an entrepreneur and a track coach.

Gordon’s resume includes branding, creative, and design work with HDR, Disney, Microsoft, and the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce. But having a nationally known sneaker with his name on it is special to him.

“I’m a lifelong athlete and a sneaker collector, and even if it doesn’t happen to be your favorite brand, they are still Nike—a juggernaut even outside of the athletic realm,” Gordon says. “To have my work and story featured on a pair of shoes is almost beyond words, because it’s a strange type of confluence to have my work, athletics, and personal history all converge in this way.”

Visit rdql.us for more information.

This article was printed in the February/March 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.


Steve Gordon

August 20, 2012 by
Photography by minorwhitestudios

Designer Steve Gordon’s urbanized sense for what’s in-vogue permeates his lifestyle and RDQLUS Creative signature work. He indulges a love for hip hop, sneakers, and bikes. He provides brand development, identity design, and creative direction services for corporate clients, big and small, near and far.

Growing up in the North Omaha projects, Gordon displayed an inquisitive mind and aptitude for art. Attending Omaha Creighton Prep exposed him to a larger world.

“I was encouraged to explore, and I think exploration is a major part of creativity and innovation,” he says. “All of that comes from the wide-open spaces of being able to reach and grasp at straws, get some things wrong. After I bought into that, so many things opened up. At Prep, I fell in love with architecture. It still drives a lot of the work I do. My work is a lot more structured than the free-form work of some other designers. Mine is very vertical and Art Deco influenced.”

His design endeavors shared time with his passions for music and competitive athletics. He “fell in love” with music as a kid and went on to success as a DJ, producer, and remixer. His skill as a triple jumper earned him scholarship offers from top colleges and universities. After two years as a Cornhusker in Lincoln, he transferred to the University of South Dakota, where he won multiple national titles. He was ranked among the world’s best.

Gordon with the shoes he designed for NIKEiD.

Gordon with the shoes he designed for NIKEiD.

His pursuit of an Olympic berth and a music career took him around the world. Back home, he worked corporate gigs before launching RDQLUS Creative in 2005.

“As an artist, you want that creative outlet to do something a bit more outside the box, something you’re passionate about,” he says of going the indie route.

The sneaker aficionado recently combined two of his passions when NIKEiD invited him to design shoes and to document the process online.

“I didn’t want to just put some pretty colors on a shoe, I wanted there to be some story, some branding. I’m very much into fashion, style, aesthetics, and athletics, and so I wanted to design a shoe that spoke to all of those things.

“Guys like myself, though we dress in denims and sneakers rather than wing-tips and a tie, we’re no less in tune with wanting to look sharp and present ourselves well.”


He’s authored two books on freelance design for Rockport Publishers, whose Rock, Paper, Ink blog features his column, “Indie.” He also does public speaking gigs about design. He’s a big tweeter, too. “I love communicating with people.

“At times I wonder how I keep everything up in the air. All of the things I’m involved in, I really have a true belief they feed each other. Someone asked me once, ‘What is it you do for a living?’ and I said, ‘I hope my answer is always, I live for a living.’ What I do to sustain that, well, that’s a different story.”

This one-man shop embodies the independent creative class spirit of engaging community. “Design and creativity are not about art,” he says, “but communication. We’re visual problem solvers.” He says “the really fervent” way he worked to better himself as an athlete “is a lot of like how I still approach life in general,” adding, “If I could work so hard at something that was a game and that gave me fulfillment and made a lasting legacy for myself, then how can I not enjoy life that same way?”

Read more of Leo Adam Biga’s work at leoadambiga.wordpress.com.