Susie Rantz – Mar 11

Many people found new passions during some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions. Maybe it was knitting. Or painting. Or home projects. Or perhaps it was binge-watching too many TV shows (guilty). For local soccer fan Luis Gamez, his pandemic hobby garnered attention from some of the biggest local names in soccer like Megan Rapinoe.

Gamez is the founder of Mini Footballer, which his website describes as “putting a mini twist on your special moments and loved ones.” That includes athletes, and in particular soccer players and teams. Gamez shrinks and exaggerates players from real photos, creating images that have made plenty of professional athletes chuckle and ask for one of their own.

“When things were pretty bad and everyone was staying at home, I got into editing and making memes as a way to have fun with my friends and family,” Gamez shared. “At one point my brother suggested I try to make a mini edit. It was a lot of fun and then he suggested I start a page to post my work. At that point, my goals were to have fun editing, learn more about photoshop, and to create content that would bring a smile to people’s faces because the pandemic was pretty crummy.”

Since starting up, Mini Footballer has commemorated some of the most iconic moments in sports, from Brandi Chastain’s World Cup celebration to Stefan Frei’s “The Save” in the 2016 MLS Cup. Gamez has also ventured into edits for other local Seattle sports teams and athletes, including the Seattle Storm and GOAT Sue Bird.

We caught up with the Seattle University graduate, who featured for the men’s soccer team and now is a teacher, to learn more about Mini Footballer, which today has more than 47,000 followers on Instagram.

When did you become a football/soccer fan?

Growing up as a child I watched my uncles play soccer all the time. I looked up to them as my role models and so that really drew me into the game.

Do you reach out to the photographers before creating your Mini Footballer concepts?

I do! Through my work, I’ve connected with many individuals, athletes, and photographers from all over the world. It’s been awesome to work with talented photographers to put a Mini Footballer twist on their work. I always work hard to credit the photographer because I believe it’s important.

The players seem to love them! Do you have a favorite memory of a player that shared or commented on your work?

Yes! I’ve connected with a whole bunch of athletes, teams, and soccer channels on social media. One of my favorite memories would have to be when Megan Rapinoe shared the Mini Footballer edit I made of hers. She was one of the very first athletes I edited and it was early on in the beginning of this project. My former soccer coach at Seattle University connected with her and showed her the edit and then she shared it. It was a total stroke of luck and everything aligned for her to see it. That share led to many more connections and edits for other players.

Secondly, my collaboration with Manchester United is also very special to me. To get noticed by such a recognizable organization and for them to see the value that my work could bring to their platforms was very special.

Lastly, as a local fan and season ticket holder, I was on cloud nine when I connected with the Sounders to make a collection of minis for them. My kiddos were especially excited to see those!

Any Mini Footballer design that makes you smile the most?

I have one that I never posted, actually. I edited my father into a mini standing next to my 3-year-old son. It’s the sweetest and funniest ever.

You live in the Seattle area and follow the Reign and Sounders. Any favorite players?

Oh yeah! My family has been season ticket holders since the second season (we also attended most matches the opening season). We are also very excited to have OL Reign closer to home so we can make more games.

My favorite players are Megan Rapinoe, Lu Barnes, and Jess Fishlock for OL Reign.

For the Sounders, I love Raúl Ruidíaz, Nicolás Lodeiro, and Cristian Roldan.

Where can people find you online?

I’m on Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest with the handle @minifootballer_. I also have a website where I sell personalized mini edits, stickers, keychains, and magnets of select athletes with whom I have collaborated.

Mini Footballer started as a fun little pandemic project but has since grown beyond Gamez’s wildest dreams — getting shared by some of the top athletes around the globe. As Gamez shared in a profile on Seattle Refined, “At the end of the day, if you’re having fun making the content, then that’s going to show through your work, and people will gravitate towards that.”