A Guitar, A Violin, and A Pair of Vans

If you remember my post about getting into shoe art, those two pairs of shoes ushered in a lot of inquiries. Early this year, I was happy to take in yet another pair of Vans for customization. I figured that designing shoes, apart from my freelance illustration projects and mask making, would be a very much welcome break from my usual studio work. Anyway, this belongs to Bongkee Dela Torre, who I must say, also very skillfully does custom painted shoes. He specifically said that these are to be used for skating, and gave me a number of tips on what mix of paints to use for the design to last long. And after four days straight of beating these babies — cruising, biking, and whatnot — he confirmed that they passed the durability test.
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Apparently, it wasn’t just orders for custom shoe art that came in. A few weeks later, I accepted a commissioned work for an electric guitar from my friend, Arthur Piccio of Death by Elephant. Darcy, which he fondly named his guitar, was assembled by him and is a 26″ scale lefty Gibson SG Standard copy with capiz shell trapezoid inlay. I debated with myself at first whether to paint every inch of it or not, but decided later on to come up with a design that would also let the wood finish shine through.
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That little project with Arthur’s Darcy led to another commissioned painting for a musical instrument — a little girl’s violin this time. For Sofia Elise Zamora’s violin, I applied thick lines of copper paint to highlight the delicate patterns which are mostly in varying shades of pink and purple. The next time I get another project for an instrument, I hope it would be a grand piano. Yes, I’m serious about that. Believe me when I say that I’d also love to try painting helmets, a motorbike, or maybe even a car in the future and if time permits of course.
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To end this post, I think it’s best that I clarify one of the frequently asked questions I’ve been getting regarding my shoe art customization stint. Kindly note that the shoes and instruments to be painted on were provided by their respective owners. Now, excuse me while I go back to the salt mines.

Getting Into Shoe Art

Early last May, I was commissioned to paint a pair of canvas shoes for Bensimon’s launch in the Philippines. Now, I am new to this shoe art thing and upon learning that a basic pair of Bennies costs around Php 2500, I decided to practice first on a cheap pair of Advan sneakers. Couldn’t risk ruining the ones I was to design. So here’s how my “practice pair” turned out.

For the actual pair of Bensimons I painted on, I was given a few specifications by the organizers: (1) that the design should be wholesome, so I was not allowed to place my usual skulls and “hints of gore and self-mutilation” — I love the fact that they do know my work; but mainly, (2) that it should reflect the stylish, on-the-go Parisian chic feel of the brand. So sticking to a color scheme of pink, black, and red, here’s what I came up with.
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The launch was held at The Atrium in Enderun Colleges last June 11. The venue was prettily decorated to look like a French cafe with the adjoining room made to resemble a street in Paris lined with mini bazaars, flower shops, and an art gallery where the custom-designed shoes were displayed. Mine came with a small painting to match the shoe art. I kept the design feminine and elegant. No skulls; just roses, ribbons, and stripes.

Albeit the fabric being too soft for painting, designing the Bennies was a fun experience. I also have to note that the launch got me started wearing canvas shoes — a grape-colored pair of tennis lacets I was given for free that goes well with my mostly black, gray, and red wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong though, boots will always be my comfy shoes (I did get another red pair of Bennies though).
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Save for an extra pair of size 9 white Bennies I still can’t decide what to do with yet, I knew that wouldn’t be the last pair I’d be working on. True enough, that wasn’t my last foray into shoe art for the year. Come October, I found myself customizing shoes again — a pair of Vans this time, which was, truthfully, easier to work on.  I guess this explains why there are lots of custom Vans shoe art out there. I’d have to try working on other brands, but so far, the canvas for this brand is just perfect for painting.

The client’s request was simple: A design that’s undeniably me. Without thinking twice about what to paint, I threw in my favorite elements I like to incorporate in my paintings — roses, skulls, bones, a few curlicues, and my new found love – VISCERA!
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Now that I’ve experienced painting on three pairs of canvas shoes, I think I’m ready to try working on a new material — leather.  I’ve agreed to design a pair, and tinkering with a new medium is always exciting. Yep, can’t wait to get started on that one. As for the extra pair of Bennies, I’m a size 7 and I really won’t be able to use them, so I’m considering designing and raffling them off some time in 2014. I just need to get a few paintings done first. So there you go, two supposedly separate overdue posts compressed into one. Definitely looking forward to doing more shoe art next year,  among other projects of course.