During his brief visit to New York City for mural project with AOL, artist Dave White briefly mentioned, off the record, about his upcoming project with Jordan Brand. In ways, this project was a culmination of all the work White done in the past. Since 2002, the classically trained artist have helped proliferate the believe that sneakers are no mere object of desire or simple accessories to your wardrobe. But rather an outlet of expression for one's creativity. Be it a medium or a subject, our perceptions on sneakers have evolved in the last decade, largely thanks to folks like Dave White.
In this announcement which duplicate as an interview, the Liverpool-base painter talked about his latest collaboration with Jordan Brand, a limited edition Air Jordan 1. The process all started in 2008 when Dave Frank, the Art Director for Jordan Brand, contacted White. Some 3 years later, the finished product will make its debut this week at the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. From the onset, White took pain on the coloration, a natural inclination for any painter. To translate visually the relevance of Air Jordan 1 and its subsequent anniversary, White kept much of the original colorways of Black, White, Red and Grey, even the classic Cement pattern. Yet, White felt strongly about putting on visual allusion of motion, as sneakers should be. Finally, the artist narrowed down and submitted 4 designs with one passed, a gold tipped variation with strokes of red paint on white leather. 23 pairs made, all set to auction this weekend during the NBA All-Star Game, the proceeds from their sales will go to charity WINGS for the Future and Los Angeles' Inglewood High School. Each pair will also be accompanied by specially designed packaging along with an exclusive t-shirt tie-in. In the end, the idea behind the project was more intrinsic than just a product for Dave White. It was about passion and the extend one will go to fulfill it.
How did you become involved in this project and how far back did it begin?
Dave Frank, the Jordan Brand Art Director, phoned me out of the blue way back in 2008 to tell me he loved my work and wanted to work together on a collaboration. Since then it's been a logical development of a relationship. It's a crazy honour and a mad delight to be working with Nike and Jordan Brand. I never ever had a game plan to get here, it's just how it panned out. Working with Jordan has been such an amazing experience and a dream collaboration. Back in 2002 when I started painting sneakers I never dreamed I would be doing this, and especially on such a bespoke project.
Why was the Air Jordan I chosen? Did the brand have that in mind because it was the model that debuted the 'Wings' Logo? Or is it a personal favourite of yours Dave?
From our early discussions it was clear that Jordan Brand wanted me to do something with the Air Jordan I during the planning stages the Jordan I anniversary was coming up. Plus I'm really pleased we went with this shoe because it's a great blank canvas with a lot of space to work with.
Tell us more about the journey to end up with the final product.
What I wanted to do was create something that was not going to veer off from the beaten track too much. I'm very much a purist when it comes to Jordans and colorways. I wanted to keep it very much Black, White, Red and Grey. What I came up with was the whole instinctual paint splat thing that I'm known for and instantaneously have a nod to what I do show on the shoe. I wanted to create something that looked animated, but without being played in or moved in and I was very passionate about putting that in there.
Can you detail the many particulars of the early samples and talk about the inspiration and back story behind your designs?
I submitted four designs overall, some things I wanted to do didn't make the cut, but a lot got signed off. The first run samples don't show the true colours these were Varsity Red, but ended up being a much more vibrant Fire Red. I was very passionate about putting Cement print that in there, regardless of how much it's been used by Nike and Jordan it's still such a special material to me that I had to include it. We went with hits of high grade canvas on the tongue, on the inner sole and sock liner which obviously harks back to the material I work on.
We were pushing ideas as hard as we could and as technology evolves more things become a reality, such as matching the print on the upper to the print on the midsole, which just wasn't available a few years back. The print on the side is very tonal but also makes it look animated, the stars connect back to me; I have always used them in my work since the very beginning.
Ok let's take a closer look at ... the All-Star auction shoe:
23 pairs. These will be auctioned at the NBA All-Star weekend in LA. That aside, the cause is more important than the shoe. All the proceeds from that will go directly to Jordan Brand's corporate responsibility program, WINGS for the Future and Inglewood High School in Los Angeles.
I wanted to create something that was exploding and moving and was completely animated. Something like this was always in my mind. The US flag, and loving the Harlem Globetrotters as a kid were a big influence. I love the way the toe looks like it's been dipped in paint.
It's got that look of a winning shoe.
Interview Continues On Sole Collector