converse take over london with sneaker portraits

The footwear brand has invited four artists to take over walls in North, South, East and West London.

by i-D Team
02 March 2015, 5:50pm

Today Converse launch Made by You, a campaign to celebrate the experiences and creative self-expression marked on each pair of iconic Chuck Taylor All Stars. Every stain, scratch and scribble on a person's favourite Chucks are a self-portrait of the wearer's spirit and stories.

Walls in North, South, East and West London have been taken over by four creatives for one day only. The original artwork of Daniel Hirschmann, Sean Frank, Ashley Jagdeo and Sam Taylor will be spread across London, along with each creative's sneaker portrait and their "Six Word Story" about Chuck experiences. International icons including Patti Smith, Andy Warhol and Glenn O'Brien, as well as British talent Agi & Sam, Sibling, Sean Frank, Sam Taylor and Shay Ola have also offered up their personal pairs for sneaker portraits and are sharing their stories.

There is also a gallery installation by Damilola Odusote, a British-Nigerian artist, who has assembled thousands of Polaroids of Londoners wearing their Chucks and sharing their Six Word Stories. It's being held in gallery space on London's Shoreditch High Street and is another example of Converse enabling creative self-expression in London to create an art piece that's truly Made by you.

To talk about the Made by You project, i-D caught up with contributing Converse artist Daniel Hirschmann.

How do you feel about being involved in the Walls project, particularly being displayed at location as iconic as Camden Lock?
It's always super exciting to be able to create an outdoor public engagement. When that's happening at a location as iconic as Camden Lock, it's all the more meaningful, fun, and rewarding. I honestly can't wait to see how people react!

What is the space like, and what will your work be playing with in the vicinity?
The wall plays with the simple need, or desire of people to press buttons. You'll see moments in films where there is a big glowing red button that beckons - and we as the audience always wonder what will happen when its pressed. Our wall is like a sensory overload of these desires! We have 448 arcade game style illuminated buttons in a grid. If you press a button, you turn the light on or off. There is a huge amount of satisfaction you get out of this - much like popping bubbles in bubble wrap - but there is a very important second step! If you turn on and off the buttons intentionally, you can create images, text, patterns, etc.

Has technology always been a part of your practice? Can you talk about your take on creativity and technology?
Yes - I studied Fine Arts and Drawn Sculpture, but realised quickly that I needed to explore technology as a medium to create responsive sculptures and physical experiences. 

What do you hope to achieve with your wall?
The buttons become the binary pixels in your canvas, allowing you to do whatever you want on it. It's a little like a physical-digital take on graffiti. Your message or image is liminal though: it exists in the moments before another audience member becomes a participant and potentially erases, or builds on your own work. The location has an effect on the images and messages that are being created by virtue of the tribes that visit and live in that area. At the end of the day, it's hundreds of buttons on a wall begging to be pressed by anyone who walks past it. It's going to be a lot of fun!

Do you have any memories of Converse? 
When I was a very young man - somewhere between three and five - I remember being given a pair of shoes with Stars on the ankles. In retrospect I recall them as a pair of Converse. It's probably the only pair of shoes I have any memory of from that time in my life! I recall wanting to wear them a little too often until my feet were just too big. Of course now I can get my own Chucks.

You can find the Chuck Taylor All Stars Four Walls in London at the following locations:

Sam Taylor, Shacklewell Lane

Sean Frank, Portobello Road

Ashley Jagdeo, Deptford Bridge

Daniel Hirschmann, Camden Lock