Interview by Tom Bradley
Production by retrogurl / liquidrice
World renowned sneaker artist Dave White, along with Trust Nobody will be debuting Dave’s new set of works – The Court’s A Battlefield. The new collection of works is inspired by the Air Force 1 and it’s 25th Anniversary celebration as well as the machines of battle. Tom gets some answers from Dave on his new subject matter and the Dave White Brand. Dave also sent in some last minute shots of his U.S.A.F. Air Force 1 Customs. Check the interview, the art and the Dave White customs below…
Being that you’ve been involved with street culture one way or another for most of your life, what was it like to focus on the Air Force One’s?
This whole body of work is something I have been working on for 9 months now. I am a massive fan of the shoe and had great fun playing around with imagery and the likes. Some of the works I have on the go which never made the show are awesome.
What about the AF 1’s caused them to leave such an indelible mark on the street wear industry, hip-hop, ball players, and the sneaker scene in general?
I mean this shoe carries so much weight for people, the memories and iconic times signified by the AF1, no matter what your age is. Everyone has a personal story related to it. And with the 25th Anniversary models I find Nike have pushed it taking it to the next level and the next audience.
Dave White Customs
Do you have a sense of anxiety when painting iconic subjects like the AF 1 or the Air Jordan line ?
I never get anxious painting, it’s where I am most comfortable to be honest.
Where would you say the love comes from? Why seek to re-imagine the shoes you and your audience love using paint and canvas?
The love comes from a total obsessive fascination for the subjects I portray. The line, shape form, colour and texture all play a part. But something I have never discussed in any interviews is why they look the way they do. It’s always been about the sneakers being created using movement, reflecting the dynamism or a frozen moment, these things move. I wanted to portray and capture the essence, character and soul of these things spontaneously using fluid materials. That’s what I have always done, it’s my signature. I am presenting objects I find beautiful to look at and immortalizing them on canvas.
How do you handle the idea that your work is becoming iconic itself ?
Is it? I mean it’s flattering if that’s the case, like all artists subject matters are were we explore our ideas and express ourselves. How they are viewed is something we have no control over.
The military essence is obvious and the “Air Force One” moniker is paramilitary in itself, but you seem to be incorporating WWII fighter jet/bomber imagery into these works. Talk about your influences/inspirations on this project and what makes the AF1 so romantic that it might be tied to WWII?
I have always been into planes in a big way, I mean fanatical. I was always making models as a kid making them look weathered, dusty, worn and battle scarred.
I seem to have gone full circle completely unintentionally it just seemed to happen naturally. The theme of this show is ‘The Court’s A Battlefield’, playing with all facets of the sneaker game relating to the AF1.
The titles speak for themselves. “Chalked Up Another Pair” which shows at first glance a P40 with snarling nose art but on closer reflection shows stenciled kicks instead of kills signifying the manic collector chasing the latest drop and their proud trophy count.
Chalked Up Another Pair
“Heavy Ammunition” depicts a struggling Chinook lifting a tank, or rather an AF1 into the battlefield of the court. Describing the effect this shoe had on Basketball.
The best of the bunch is the “Air Force Carrier”, a simple play on words showing some of the proudest moments of the AF1 releases on a flight deck of an Aircraft Carrier crashing through the waves.
Air Force Carrier
I am not glorifying war or anything like that just using objects as a means of getting an idea across.
FUTURA 2000 once described the fame granted him by street couture as ideal because he could “choose to be noticed by certain groups and yet remain completely unnoticed by others.” Your fame might be described in much the same way but how have you been dealing with your status among the street wear culture?
I am just one of the many people in the vast and amazing melting pot of global street culture doing my thing and very grateful for it.
The end of 2006 saw the release of your clothing line and more than a few exhibitions of your work. What is 2007 to bring for Dave White both artistically and commercially?
The clothing line is just dropping now for the Spring, I have a few things on the go, colabs and the likes I am really excited about and some solo shows lined up. Most of all I have a few surprises with my work to come.