School Cuber makes $8,000 mosaics of sports activities stars from cubes

Dylan Sadiq, known as “The College Cuber”, is charging $8,000 for his cube mosaics. Pro teams, including the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, have purchased the artwork.

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | The College Cube

It started with a portrait of his favorite basketball player, Luka Doncic. Then came NBA star Damian Lillard. International football clubs like Manchester United and FC Barcelona took notice. A major league baseball team has come forward, as has the National Football League.

Before he knew it, Dylan Sadiq was inundated with requests for his cube mosaics (as in Rubik’s Cubes, but imitators). Sadiq, 21, is a student at Rutgers University, where he is now known as The College Cubers.

Sadiq charges $8,000 and can create a cube portrait in under four hours. After gaining traction on social media platforms and retweets on Twitter, teams such as the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the National Hockey League’s New Jersey Devils and Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union, as well as the New York Red Bulls sought Sadiqs work.

“I didn’t expect that,” Sadiq told CNBC this week. As he spoke, a new mosaic he created of Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes went viral.

Covid ruined everything

Sadiq is currently in his final semester at Rutgers and plans to graduate in biomedical engineering. However, he does not have a career in this field in mind.

His interests changed during the pandemic as virtual school left him unoccupied.

“When I was personal, I was grinding and studying,” he said. “I immersed myself in my education. But since we’ve been online it’s far from the same, and it’s sad. I feel like I haven’t learned much. If you put me in a situation to make a difference, I don’t know how I can help.”

With no opportunities for personal internships or hands-on experience at school, Sadiq took a detour. He combined his Social Media Accounts and his interest in engineering to master the Rubik’s Cube.

Dylan Sadiq, known as “The College Cuber”, is charging $8,000 for his cube mosaics.

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | The College Cube

Sadiq likes to tell the story of how his brother Brandon challenged him to solve the cube when he was 10 years old. His reward was Activision Blizzards Call of Duty video game. Sadiq said it took him a week to complete the task.

In February 2021, Sadiq practiced solving cubes to get faster. He then turned his newfound skills into a path for creating art.

Sadiq bought $1,000 worth of cubes and figured out how to assemble 560 pieces to create one Mosaic by Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks All-NBA guard. He posted it to Instagram in April, and the Mavericks took notice and shared it with the team’s supporters. That sparked another mosaic from Lillard with similar results from the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I’m not sure Luka Doncic has ever seen the mosaic,” Sadiq said. “And Mark Cuban, I’m not sure he saw it either,” he added.

Cuban, the Mavericks’ owner, told CNBC he didn’t see it.

While Sadiq said he’ll almost certainly steer clear of potential engineering jobs, he’s not thinking about his time at Rutgers, which can be expensive over $40,000 a year, as a waste. He said the university hires him for live events, including the October soccer game against Ohio State and the inauguration of the new school president.

“That’s a big part of why I’m the college cuber,” Sadiq said. “Everything was ruined because of Covid. But where I feel valuable is through my artwork.”

Sadiq visited the Lions’ Ford Field last July to create a mosaic for the NFL club.

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | The College Cube

Finding motivation in Detroit

In July, the Detroit Pistons became the first professional sports team to pay for a mosaic. Sadiq took a trip to the Motor City and created a portrait of Ben Wallace, the center of the Pistons’ Hall of Fame. While in town, he made a mosaic for the Red Wings for their NHL draft party.

He also made sales to the NFL Lions and for the MLB Tigers he created a mosaic of batman Miguel Cabrera. The team presented it to him to celebrate his 500th home run.

“I didn’t understand what I was doing,” Sadiq said of his Detroit experience. “I was just trying to make an experience out of it.”

As he wandered around Detroit, Sadiq said he was interested in the artworks that promoted black pride in the city. This gave rise to the idea of ​​expanding the College Cuber.

“The artwork was fantastic,” said Sadiq. “One of the things I imagined – I wish I could see the creation live. I felt it deserved an audience because artworks like this have a strong message and look beautiful. It’s colourful, vibrant – I wish I could see it being made before my eyes.”

Dylan Sadiq said black artworks in Detroit motivated him to create live performances of the mosaics. He uses over 500 cubes to assemble the artwork in three hours.

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | The College Cube

So Sadiq made it possible. He started charging up to $3,000 for a live performance and can create a work of art in about three hours. For a flat fee of $8,000, customers can see the live event and keep the artwork.

Last September, Sadiq converted College Cuber into a limited liability company. He said that of the $38,000 in revenue he’s made since the Pistons became his first paying client in July, about $27,000 has ended up in profit. He keeps costs down through a deal with a toy wholesaler and pays no rent for his mother’s basement studio where he makes his mosaics.

“She’ll probably start charging me (rent) now,” he joked.

Sadiq believes he can surpass $100,000 in sales this year. So far, the Chiefs have bought the mosaic from Mahomes, and Titans running back Derrick Henry is looking for a piece.

The NFL paid $8,000 for a mosaic by league commissioner Roger Goodell, named after Joe Favorito, a well-known sports PR guru and sports business professor University of Columbia, saw a video of one of Sadiq’s mosaics. Favorito said he was “blown away right away” and coordinated a performance.

“Sometimes we take creative talent for granted,” Favorito said. “I think it’s our job to help these young content creators do something really unique. His technical and scientific background connects him in a special way and this is how he is able to do it. The fact that he can do it almost in his head, and then knowing which pieces to put up and create something remarkable and unique in a matter of hours is a gift.”

It all started on the trip to Detroit.

“I learned so much from this experience,” said Sadiq. “I went from being a kid making videos online to an action. I would say that weekend in Detroit changed my whole life.”

Sadiq is shown creating a mosaic of NBA star Kevin Durant for the Philadelphia Union football team. Durant is co-owner of the MLS franchise.

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | The College Cube

Make money on social media

Sadiq isn’t the first person to monetize cube mosaics. 2019, CNBC profiled Italian artist Giovanni Contardi using Rubik’s products to create art. Contardi sold a mosaic of the late Amy Winehouse for approximately $5,000 and caught social media attention for an article about NBA star LeBron James.

Sadiq has contacted Rubik’s about a trademark deal. The company is owned by a Canadian toy manufacturer Spin Master, which is traded on the over-the-counter marketplace.

“The pandemic has been a problem for him, but it has also created digital opportunities that he can take advantage of,” Favorito said.

Social media is central to College Cuber’s business. His Instagram account was authorized Facebook’s Bonus program that pays creators to post Roll. Sadiq said he’s made about $550 from Instagram so far. He also joined TikTok creator fund after his Mahomes mosaic garnered over 100,000 views.

For additional revenue, he creates mosaics and charges clients $750 for the video that companies can post in their ads.

But Sadiq does not charge professional sports teams for video contribution. Instead, he looks for retweets or reposts to get attention. Manchester United and Barcelona have helped with football fans, and the NBA’s Orlando Magic also sponsored the work Twitter.

Sadiq said he plans to use the extra attention as a force for good.

Last year, courtesy of the New York Knicks, he attended his first NBA game after creating a mosaic of All-Star Julius Randle. Sadiq, a native of New Jersey, said visiting Madison Square Garden was “life-changing” as he was able to “feel the culture and unity of [sports] fans.”

Sadiq is now asking teams who become customers to provide free tickets to fans who have never attended a sporting event.

“That’s what I want to experience with my artwork – to bring the fans together,” he said.

Speaking of building College Cuber, Sadiq said, “It was just something that came into existence and I recognize the value I bring to people.”

CLOCK: The 24-year-old creates portraits from hundreds of Rubik’s Cubes