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

Dylan Sadiq, known as “The College Cuber”, charges $8,000 for his mosaics made of cubes. Professional teams, including the NBA’s Detroit Pistons, purchased the work.

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | Cuber College

It all started with a portrait of his favorite basketball player, Luka Doncic. Then came fellow NBA star Damian Lillard. International football clubs like Manchester United and FC Barcelona have taken notice. A Major League Baseball team reached out, as did the National Football League.

Before he knew it, Dylan Sadiq was inundated with requests for his mosaics made up of cubes (like in Rubik’s Cubes, but copies). Sadiq, 21, is a student at Rutgers University, where he is now known as College Cuber.

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

“It’s not what I expected,” Sadiq told CNBC this week. As he spoke, a new mosaic he created of Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was going viral.

Covid ruined everything

Sadiq is currently in his final semester at Rutgers and plans to earn a degree in biomedical engineering. But he does not plan to pursue a career in the field.

His interests have changed during the pandemic, as virtual schooling has failed to keep him engaged.

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

With no opportunities for in-person 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”, charges $8,000 for his mosaics made of cubes.

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | Cuber College

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

In February 2021, Sadiq practiced solving cubes so he could go faster. Then he turned his new skill into an avenue for artistic creation.

Sadiq bought $1,000 worth of cubes and figured out how to put 560 pieces together to create a mosaic of Dallas Mavericks all-NBA guard Doncic. He posted it on Instagram in April, and the Mavericks took notice, sharing it with team followers. It sparked another Lillard mosaic 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 owner of the Mavericks, told CNBC he hadn’t seen it.

While Sadiq said he’s almost certain to give up potential engineering jobs, he doesn’t view his time at Rutgers, which can cost more than $40,000 a year, as a waste. He said the university hired him for live events, including the football game against Ohio State in October and the inauguration of the school’s new president.

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

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

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | Cuber College

Finding Motivation in Detroit

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

He also made sales to the NFL Lions and, for the MLB Tigers, he created a mosaic of slugger 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 experience in Detroit. “I was just trying to make it an experience.”

Wandering around Detroit, Sadiq said he became interested in artwork that promoted black pride in the city. This sparked the idea of ​​expanding the College Cuber.

“The artwork was amazing,” Sadiq said. “One of the things I came up with – I wish I could see the creation live. I felt like it deserved a crowd because artwork like this had a powerful message and looked beautiful. It’s colorful, vibrant – I wish I could see it happening right before my eyes.

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

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | Cuber College

So Sadiq did. He started charging up to $3,000 for a live performance and can create an artwork in about three hours. For a flat fee of $8,000, customers can view the event live and keep the artwork.

Last September, Sadiq transformed College Cuber into a limited liability company. He said of the $38,000 in revenue he’s generated since the Pistons became his first paying customer in July, about $27,000 has been in profit. He cuts costs through a deal with a toy wholesaler and pays no rent for the workshop in his mother’s basement, where he makes his mosaics.

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

Sadiq predicts he can top $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 of league commissioner Roger Goodell, after Joe Favorito, a well-known sports PR guru and professor of sports business at Columbia University, saw a video of a Sadiq mosaics. Favorito said he was “immediately blown away” and coordinated an introduction.

“Creative talent, sometimes we take for granted,” Favorito said. “I think it’s our job to help amplify these young content creators who are doing something truly unique. His background in engineering and science connects him in a special way, and that’s how he is able to do it. The fact that he can almost do it in his head and then know what pieces to put in place 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,” Sadiq said. “I went from being a kid making videos online to doing it. I would say that weekend in Detroit was life changing for me.

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

Courtesy: Dylan Sadiq | Cuber College

Make money on social networks

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

Sadiq has been in touch with Rubik’s for a branding deal. The company is owned by Canadian toymaker Spin Master, which trades on the over-the-counter market.

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

Social media is at the heart of Cuber College’s activities. His Instagram account became eligible for Facebook’s bonus program, which pays creators to post reels. Sadiq said he has earned around $550 so far from Instagram. He also joined TikTok’s Creators Fund after his Mahomes mosaic reached over 100,000 views.

For additional revenue, he will make mosaics and charge customers $750 for video that companies can post in their ads.

But Sadiq does not charge professional sports teams for video posting. Instead, it seeks retweets or reposts to boost exposure. Manchester United and Barcelona helped football fans, and the NBA’s Orlando Magic also promoted the work on Twitter.

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

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

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

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

Of the College Cuber building, Sadiq said, “It was just something that has become, and I realize the value I bring to people.”

LOOK: This 24-year-old man makes portraits with hundreds of Rubik’s Cubes

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