When you think of sneakers, and sneaker collectors, you always think about other subjects that go hand in hand… Music and art are two that jump out straight away.
For this latest Footpatrol discussions, we reached out to a good friend of Footpatrol, Steph Morris. A Manchester based artist, Steph uses a traditional method of putting pencil to paper creating insanely detailed pieces of the things that bring us all together, sneakers.
Footpatrol: Hey Steph, thank you for taking the time out to talk to us today! For our readers please can you introduce yourself and what you do?
Steph: I’m an artist from the UK and I draw mainly fashion related subject. I use the traditional method of pencil on paper and I’ve been a full-time artist now for the past 4 years.
FP: And for how long have you been drawing sneakers? And why was it sneakers over portraits or landscapes for example?
S: For about 5 years. I’ve always had a love for sneakers so it was a natural subject for me. When I started drawing, I had no idea it would lead me to where I am now so there was never any pressure to be anything other than what I am. It was a very organic way to start.
FP: Looking back through your Instagram page, it’s amazing to see how your work has developed over the years. In the beginning a lot of your work was produced black and white without the introduction of colour. Could you explain a little about the transition into including colour in your work?
S: I didn’t want to limit myself. I wanted to improve technically and colour was something I hadn’t explored before. To me, black and white drawings can sometimes pass off as photographs so I wanted to move away from that. I’m also a big believer in continuing to develop yourself as an artist so with each piece I do I try to improve on the last, in whatever small way possible. I found using colour really difficult at first because you have to learn to mix (sometimes 5 or 6 shades) so it was daunting. As they say practice makes perfect though and after a handful of colour pieces I felt way more comfortable.
FP: What is it that makes you pick a specific shoe to draw? With so many launches these days and the hours that going into your work it must be a hard decision to make?
S: It is hard! If it’s not a commissioned piece then it is a sneaker that I love. It’s impossible to keep up with everything so as a theme I like to choose more iconic pairs that will stand the test of time. At the moment I’m working on an original worn 85’ Chicago. A lot of the time I look back to the past for inspiration. Nostalgia is something I like to explore through my work.
FP: Do you always work from the physical product in hand or image reference? For example, the Lego series did you have to physically make those first?
S: Most of the time yes, it’s much easier to work with the product in front of me so I can study the texture and true colours up close. For the Lego series, I built each logo, photographed them and then drew them so it was quite a long process. But I had so much fun with it. With sneakers, if I don’t have access to the actual shoe then I work from a high-res image.
FP: On footwear there’s so many materials that can be included from the corduroy on the Sean Wotherspoon to the translucent upper of the React 87. How do you find it moving between materials on a drawing? And is there one you particularly enjoy more than others?
S: For me, texture is what I love to draw so the more texture the better. I’ve pretty much covered every material used on sneakers so I’m confident in that sense. It can sometimes be tricky jumping from ultra smooth leather to something more textured like suede or nylon so I tend to get the piece done in sections of texture, working on one at a time. This helps to maintain consistency.
FP: Speaking of Sean Wotherspoon I see you got to meet him and deliver him a print. How does it feel when the moment arises where you get to share your artwork with the original designer?
S: Incredible! He is such a nice guy. I ran into a few people at ComplexCon last year and he was definitely a highlight. To know the designer of the very thing you’re drawing loves what you do is the ultimate approval I guess.
FP: One thing I would like to ask about is the Jeff Staple Pigeon Dunk print, how did that come about and what’s it like to see your work printed on apparel?
S: Jeff reached out last year and said he wanted to commission a piece. Once the piece was finished he said he wanted to produce limited prints and t-shirts off the back of the artwork. Everything sold out within a few hours and the response was unbelievable. That’s been one of my favourite projects to date. It felt amazing to see my work on apparel, as it isn’t something I’ve done before but would definitely like to explore more.
FP: As a piece can take you a lot of time, what are your tips for getting in the zone? I know you are going to put together a little playlist for us of your favourite songs to work to!
S: I love what I do so I find it quite easy to dive in and be fully absorbed. I do a few things before I get locked in for the long haul though, and my number one is cleaning the studio before I start the day. I’m a little obsessive with having a tidy and organised space so for me cleaning is like pressing the re-set button in my mind.. I always listen to music or have a documentary going on in the background whilst I draw, and before I know it 5 hours has passed.
8 (circle) – Bon Iver
Apocolypse – Cigarettes After Sex
Hollywood – The Black Skirts
I Like America And America Likes Me – 1975
Notion – Tash Sultana
when they party’s over – Billie Eilish
Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Spingsteen
FP: For the next generation or the artists that may not have the confidence to show off their work, what advice would you pass on to them?
S: If you don’t feel confident, then fake it until you are. We’re living in an age where art is limitless and accessible to everyone. You don’t need to have a fine art degree or work with galleries to make money, so don’t feel you need to fit a certain mould if being an artist is what you want to be. There are no right or wrong answers, believe me. There is however a certain level of self-belief and tenacity that you need to have within you. At the beginning you will hear ‘no’ a hell of a lot, just as I did. With every setback I became more determined, so I think without that mindset it can be very hard to deal with the disappointment. Take risks, work more and keep growing.
FP: How you are coping with the current lockdown. Is there anything particular that’s keeping you going?
S: I’m in Spain currently so luckily for me I have the sunshine which makes all the difference! I’ve been working so much over the lockdown, but aside from that I’ve been watching lots of Netflix and reading books.
FP: And as it was trainers that brought all us together originally – what would you say is your staple go to for the following:
Working out – Yeezy 350 Cinder
Casual every day – Sacai triple white
Impressing someone – Cactus Jack J1’s
Staying at home – Yeezy Slides
FP: And last but not least you have kindly offered up an A1 print of your latest drawing for one of our readers to win! Can you quickly let us know a little more about this piece and how they can win?
S: Sure. This latest piece was completed over lockdown so it’s nice to see it out in the world finally. It took a little over 350 hours to complete and Thibo (DIOR Mens Head Footwear Designer) actually has the original piece on his wall which still blows my mind. It was a joy to work on and I hope whoever wins the print loves it as much as I do.
For details on how to win, head over to @Footpatrol_LDN on Instagram for more details!