AN INTERVIEW WITH VM FOOTWEAR AND THE CHANCE TO WIN A PAIR OF CUSTOM, ONE OF A KIND A389 RECORDS SNEAKERS
Based out of Birmingham here in the UK, you may not have heard of VM Footwear just yet. But we're pretty certain that's going to change. Specialising in custom, hand painted fine art footwear, the work that they are creating is simply staggering. Making one-of-a-kind, completely unique sneakers which are made to order from customer specification means that there's no two pairs alike. Your Imagination is the limit. How many people you know with a pair of straight edge sneakers? A pair repping the Deathwish logo? The Black Flag bars? (controversial) A Terror pair? The Misfits skull? Danzig's face?!!
This got our brains cooking and so we have devised a team up of epic and possibly insane proportions. Teaming up with VM Footwear and A389 Records, probably the biggest noise on the underground metal and hardcore scene, we have come up with a single pair of sneakers based around the upcoming 7″ split between Canadian Holy Terror band Withdrawal and North Carolina's Young And In The Way. Completely designed and hand painted from scratch, never to be made again, #1 of 1. They're not made yet, we need your shoe size first. And one of you can win them, just by entering your email address. More on that down the bottom. First though, lets talk to Vijay, the mastermind behind VM Footwear.
So, have you got much of a background in art, is painting something you've always done?
I did win my first art prize when I was 5 haha! It was for a painting I did of spaghetti junction in Birmingham. I was well chuffed and got a load of goodies and met the Lord Mayor at the time.
Yeah ever since I was a kid I would draw and doodle. Most of my school books would be completely covered in doodles. I studied Fine Art at school and college and it was my art teacher Mr Lynch that brought the best out of me. He was awesome. I studied vehicle design at Coventry University but it didn’t have that same appeal as fine art and I found myself heading more towards the art route again when I graduated.
Who would you say your inspirations are in the art world, which artists and styles?
Artists that inspire me come from the surrealism genre like Rene Magritte and of course the master: Salvador Dali. The creativity and freedom of the mind just came out perfect on the canvas. To achieve something like he did would be the ultimate dream.
Modern day artists like Brandon Boyd, Alison Torneros and Miles Donavon I have a lot of admiration for. The vibrancy in their pieces is amazing and very, very striking. It's different to what I do but it is something I love.
It’s not just artists that inspire me though. I listen to a Lot of different music to get myself in the right frame of mind to create. It varies from the likes of Eminem and Yelawolf to Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World to Mikky Ekko, Plan B and Papa Roach, Linkin Park and so on. It's a very varied playlist and is a very important aspect to the way I work.
Where did the inspiration come from then to start painting on shoes? Was it a Eureka! moment?
It was a bit of a eureka moment actually. I used to work in a bar and had a pair of trainers that were kinda battered so I decided to jazz them up. I painted them red-ish pink completely and drew all over them with a Sharpie. Working in a bar obviously a lot of stuff gets spilt and that ruined the ink but it gave me the idea to paint shoes due to the response I got from people that saw them initially. It never really happened though as I was preoccupied with other things at the time.
A couple years later I actually did some big canvas paintings that I exhibited at the Brick Lane Gallery in London. The response was good but sadly none of them sold and that’s when I thought I need to do something with my art that people will notice more and want to invest in. So back to the shoe it was.
How did you get your name out there to begin with, to show off what you had you going on?
Well it all started when a friend of mine, Yannick Bahati, had a fight coming up. He is a serious talent in MMA. Watch out for him in UFC. I said to him that I would do him some shoes to wear for an upcoming fight and once I did those I was finding myself being asked by a variety of people for random stuff and so VM Footwear was born.
It was a little later that thanks to a friend I got the opportunity to meet (Alabaman rapper) Yelawolf when he played in Birmingham. Once Yelawolf, Heidi (the administrator of the Yalawolfpack fan page) and even Yela's mom repped my trainers online my fan base grew. Since then I have made it my job to be in the right place at the right time and network as much as possible. Using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and now recently Instagram has made word of mouth a global way of promotion.
Is it something you try and do full time now?
Yeah it's my job. I am now ready to really establish myself professionally. All the ground work of building a brand image has been done. Now it is time for that next step to really get it out there for the whole world to see.
Is it just you, doing everything?
Yeah. I am a one man band haha. To be honest when it grows to the levels I want, I will definitely have a team.
Can you talk us through the process a bit, like: from receiving the order through to finished product. Do you get much specific direction from clients?
What I do is send everyone to www.vmfootwear.com and go through the simple order form which my great web designer produced for me. Once that is filled out it's merely a consultation process where I go through exactly what the client wants. Each pair is specifically made to the clients needs. They send me images, information on what colours they want and then the rest is left for me to produce. I use my own supply of footwear as I am building my own brand, not building others.
Had any strange requests yet?
Hahaha I have had some strange orders. My favourite random ideas from clients that I have painted so far have been Albert Einstein, Monopoly and Jack Daniels bottle. There have been some very odd requests when clients enquire but they usually don’t materialise. One of my friends asked for a right boob on a left shoe and left boob on a right shoe. That strange enough?
Boob shoes! Sounds good! So what are your plans for world domination?
First of all I wanna thank all of those that have so far supported me and have ordered a pair of VM Footwear sneakers. Also artists such as Yelawolf, Hopsin, Dizzy Wright, DJ Hoppa, Jarren Benton, Steve Aoki and Jack from All Time Low who have pushed my work via the internet. Vivid Ink, an awesome tattoo shop, has a pair in their shop that a lot of people see. Soccer AM showcased them on their TV show and professional World Muay Thai and MMA fighters like Damian Trainor, Kevin Ross and Yannick Bahati have showcased their VM’s to their fans.
As for the next stage. I will be releasing my first T-shirt very soon. The first 50 will be signed and numbered and then after that I will be releasing random works of art on what will be the VM Footwear clothing line.
The shoes are going to keep coming thick and fast . I am currently in discussions with manufacturers in China about redeveloping my base shoe so that is something to keep an eye out for. There will be more of a range than just the standard high top.
I'm just doing things one goal at a time. Going to keep networking as much as possible. Reach a new genre of fans and just keep pleasing the public with my work.
LET'S DO A COMPETITION!
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