KIWIE X VANS
Since I remember myself, I have always accidentally trashed my kicks with some random paint splatters. Usually while painting walls or doing some other weird activities with the paint. The most important rule of the game was to buy black shoes only, so if anything happens, I could easily paint it all black again. And that was my only experience in "Shoe painting". Until Vans approached me.
Obviously, I have seen custom painted Vans shoes before, the movement is huge worldwide. When searching online, looks like every possible idea and picture has been already painted on these shoes. From flowers, tattoos, flames to every possible cartoon character and celebrity one can imagine. So, how the hell could I create something "never done before" here?
While diving deeper into this subject, I discovered some patterns. Mostly people use markers or acrylics to paint them, focusing on the artwork itself and not so much on the concept of "how the shoes were painted". So it was clear from the get-go, I will stay out of using any of the obvious techniques and will do it in my way as always. That is - focusing on how the shoes are actually painted and where.
The idea - "Choose 10 locations in the city. Add blank shoes on the wall. Paint over a Kiwie monster. Shoe design done."
Clearly I had just a wage idea how the shoes could look at the end. For me the whole story of "how it's done" was far more important than what the shoes will look at the end of the whole process. I wanted to capture and add that raw spray-paint vibe on the shoes and this was one of the ways how to achieve it. It had to be authentic.
PAINTING THE SHOES
Finding all 10 locations was a mission. I had to find walls where I could flawlessly drill some holes to hang the shoes, paint in daylight and on top of that film time-lapse video to capturing the whole process. Basically all locations had to be low-key old abandoned factory walls.
Down here is the promo video capturing shoe & wall painting from all 10 spots.
Camera Guy - Ivars Trautmanis
Just minutes after spray-painting them over.
I couldn't figure out how to display them at the opening event. Showing them on a regular display could be wacky and would not make any sense of why they're so funky coloured. So I was thinking - "Maybe I should paint a canvas for each pair, attach the shoes to the canvas and display them as part of the artwork? This would also highlight the reasoning of why these shoes look how they look. The pattern will match the background and it all should make sense. The canvas itself could be a nice add-on that comes together with the shoes if purchased. All together it's just a piece of artwork to hang on a wall with shoes or without." Too bad I didn't figure this out before I painted the shoes. So I had to paint all 10 monsters again, this time on wooden canvases.
The whole idea was to morph Kiwie Fat Monster into a jelly bear specifically for this collection. Why? Because I had to attach him on a shoe. A funny accident lead to it - Once I walked half day around with a stuck HARIBO bear on the lower back of my hoodie. Which of course I thought was hilarious when discovered, so I figured - "Wouldn't it be funny to create the same effect on a shoe?"
[ Found this HARIBO van while visiting Cyprus - Limassol ]
PVC rubber add-ons. Originally I wanted to use transparent silicon rubber to make them look exactly like jellies. But the factory I worked with didn't have this material available at the time and I was short of time to search for other suppliers, so I just went with what was available. The minimum order for each colour combination was 100 PCS, so I ended up with 600 Little KIWIBO bears. Feel free to drop me an email if you want some. I needed only ~20.
In the process created some metal badges for shoe strings as well, but didn't feel how it all looked together, so dropped this idea.
It took around 2-3 months to assemble everything from start to finish - brainstorm the ideas, sketch them, paint the shoes, paint canvases, order and wait for PVC add-ons, assemble it all together, install and exhibit in the store. Took a lot of time and energy, but felt real good once everything was in place. Super huge Shout Out to "GATVE" store owners Artūrs & Anda who helped with everything!
To make the whole collection more vibrant and connected with jelly bears, I decided to create some small size accessories that could mimic original HARIBO bears once placed in a similar styled packaging. So I went with pins and stickers as extra accessories.
Originally I wanted to use gold foil, but the factory said it would cost millions and will take too much time to produce. So I created the effect with gradients myself. Adobe Illustrator power!
One thing is clear - professional photoshoot is a must have. I'm lucky enough to know people with 3 black belts in product photography who purely enjoy the stuff they're doing. In my book, it's really important to have the best possible people in the team to achieve the best possible results. And photography is one of the key elements when it comes to sell products online. And not only that, any artwork or product will get damages with time, maybe will disappear completely from your reach, so it's important to make good quality photos right after the product is done for archives. These photos will stay alive until you delete them. And in my case they will probably live forever, because I never delete anything.
Product Photography by Vents Āboltiņš
Each canvas came with a signed & laminated certificate of authenticity. Sorry for such poor quality photo here, guess I took it with a potato.
Limited amount of Tees were digitally printed and assembled here in Riga-Latvia.
These stickers were produced in USA, printed on the most durable vinyl sticker possible and laminated with protective UV layer. So if you happen to have one of these, know that you can actually use them to fix your cars broken parts.
No, these are not 3D renders, just some casual Vents Āboltiņš product photography.
It was time to let my babies out in the scary daylight for others to see. The event was held in "Galerija Centrs" located at Old Riga town in a shop "GATVE". [ Fun fact: years ago I helped to design this logo ]
Event Photos by Elizabete Ezergaile
And up here is the official video from the opening event.
GC - "Hey, we can give You one of our GC windows to promote your event."
Me - "Can I paint over some ads that are already there?"
In conclusion, I enjoyed every step of this project. My main goal was to create something that was never done before with shoes. However, if you have seen something similar somewhere - anywhere, please let me know. I'm curious how someone else would salve the mystery of attaching these shoes to the wall. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this presentation and feel free to steal any ideas from here for your own projects.
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Thanks for reading!