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The artist behind the cleats: Gabriela Sparks 


Painting cleats for a professional NFL team never crossed Gabriela Sparks' mind early in her art career.

But once she was presented with the opportunity, she jumped at the chance.

Born and raised in Las Vegas and now residing in New Mexico, Sparks now enters her third season designing and painting unique cleats for the Silver and Black in support the NFL's annual My Cause My Cleats campaign.

"Growing up a Raider fan, this opportunity is just a lot more special to me because of that," the 22-year-old said.

My Cause My Cleats, in its eighth season, has been a way for players and coaching staff across the NFL to showcase and raise money for charities that are most important to them on gameday. This season, players will be wearing their custom painted cleats during Weeks 13 and 14. Players also have the option to put their cleats up for auction in efforts to fundraise money for their chosen cause.

For many years, head equipment manager Bob Romanski spent hours in the equipment room with a small airbrush in hand, painting cleats for each player's chosen charity. Having enjoyed art from a young age, Romanski loved the chance to create something for the Raiders he worked with every day.

But as more and more players joined in on the campaign, the amount of designs to be done piled up along with his day-to-day duties. Then, he learned of a young artist who might be interested in the job.

Gabriela Sparks (second from right) with her family.
Gabriela Sparks (second from right) with her family.

"In 2020, my dad, who was a carpenter in Las Vegas, was working on the Raiders training facility before they moved to Las Vegas officially," Sparks said. "He ended up talking to Bob Romanski about how Bob used to do the cleats himself and how it just became an overwhelming job. My dad mentioned me because I've just done art my whole life."

Though Sparks was nervous to put brush to cleat, especially for players of her favorite team, she can't imagine not being part of the campaign now.

Her design process sometimes comes from suggestions from the players or through her own inspiration to create what she feels based off the causes.

"I just like to think about the cleats throughout the year honestly, because I know certain players will do the same organizations," she said. "It gets me excited to do their organization and a design for those cleats because if the player is doing that same organization over and over, I know they have a passion for what it's about.

"So, it kind of just puts a passion in me to show that through my art for them so they could see that when they wear them."

As much as Sparks' passion stems from growing up a Raiders fan, seeing the way her art has an impact is the true reason she continues to do what she does.

"My dad raised me and my whole family as Raiders fans. So, working for the Raiders was an incredible opportunity," she said with a smile. "But seeing the widespread effect it has when the cleats are up for auction and seeing the money that's being raised for these organizations makes me feel good that I'm able to use my art for something that has a positive effect."

For more on the Raiders' 2023 My Cause My Cleats initiative, visit

Follow Gabriela Sparks on Instagram: @gabipaintsshoes

View the custom cleats Raiders players will be wearing for the NFL's 2023 My Cause My Cleats initiative.

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