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Nike & Geoff Mcfetridge

Released in conjunction with the Art in the Streets exhibition currently showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles, these Nike SB Paper Dunks feature abstracted artwork created by LA-based artist and designer Geoff Mcfetridge. We managed to catch up with Geoff and ask him about the project.

Limited to just 24 pairs, each Paper Dunk is unique as it features a section of a larger illustration by Mcfetridge. Available in sizes 9, 10 and 11 (US), the shoes will be auctioned on 26 May 2011 with a starting price of $100, and all proceeds benefit the MOCA foundation. Mcfetridge actually did 40 drawings, so 40 pairs of shoes will exist, with the extra shoes going to Nike and various people who worked on the project.

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I am an artist and graphic designer based in Los Angeles. I started out doing artwork for skateboard companies and art directing the Beastie Boys magazine, Grand Royal. I have always been interested in how different ways of working affect what I'm capable of as an artist, so I like to do projects that are commercial, and also projects that are purely art-based. I make animation, sculptures, bikes, wallpaper, fabric etc, and doing a wide variety of work challenges me creatively and has come to form what sort of artist I am. The shoe for Nike is an example of that - I wasn't really interested in making a normal shoe, so I proposed the paper shoe to Aaron Rose as a bit of a challenge to Nike. I knew it would be a lot of work at their end, but having done a shoe for them before (a two-layered 'tear-away' Vandal from 2003), I knew that they were capable of rising to technical challenges. Michael Hernandez from Nike handled getting the shoe made and pushing through all the technical challenges.

What was the inspiration for the Paper Dunk project?
I liked the idea of destroying a piece of art in order to make a pair of shoes. The challenge was to make drawings that were special enough for me to be sad about cutting up. The shoe is being released in relation to the Art in the Streets show, and there's a nice link between the two projects as street art is fleeting and often destroyed. Needless to say, I think most people value shoes more than art.

Can you explain how the creative/production process worked?
Each drawing was done with Speedball ink on brown paper. Each piece of paper was big enough to cut out two shoes and I drew each drawing with a brush on the floor of my studio.

What was the inspiration for the artwork itself?
While painting I was thinking of the Art in the Streets exhibition. For the show I made an installation that is a skateboard-able structure (see image, bottom), so there are a lot of skateboard images, and some characters that might be doing graffiti. There is a lot of other stuff in there as well - it's my take on stuff from the street, or maybe just an overview of things that interest me; super competitive skateboard racing, cycling, dancing, dark-haired girls, people being run over by cars. It's like how the stuff you might see walking down the street seems really random, but at the same time ends up seeming to make sense.

Was the paper treated in some way to make it more durable?
The paper is recycled and made in the US. We tested a lot of different papers and in the end I think the paper was treated - as the shoes are wearable. Each shoe also comes with a miniature version of the drawing that was cut up, and the box has my art on it too.

Lastly, are any other shoes due to be released as part of the MOCA event?
Lance Mountain is also doing a shoe (I did the ramp/skate structure with him). It's going to be really cool and it will be more of a normal shoe - not so "arty".

Art in the Streets runs until 8 August 2011 at MOCA, Los Angeles

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