Footpatrol Meets Charley Peters for the Air Jordan IV ‘Blank Canvas’

Soaring into the b-ball market in 1989 , the Jordan 4 is a silhouette needing little introduction. Simply  unmistakable and fluent in biting court style,  this fit is continuously lauded for its trailblazing design, mesh detailing and legendary colour blocking. Tinker Hatfield’s enamouring masterpiece that continues to change the sneaker game receives a clean slate this season. Stripped back and striking – the ‘Blank Canvas’ iteration is left for your own creative demise.

Traditional leather is replaced with a durable canvas upper in subdued white palette, complemented with classic Jumpman branding adorned to the tongue and heel. Plastic wing tabs feed through to the laces for on-the-go personalisation, while a visible Air unit envelopes the heel – for a cloud-like stride with every step. Spots of red, blue, and yellow linger on the midsole bleeding through to the durable outsole – finalising the court certified fit with traction.

To coincide with the launch of the Air Jordan IV ‘Blank Canvas’, it made perfect sense to us to pay a visit to artist and painter, Charley Peters. Titled ‘Blank Canvas’, we surprised Charley with a pair to wear during her studio hours in the hope of creating a bespoke, one of one pair that became an art piece in itself and its safe to say, Charley didn’t hold back!

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Footpatrol: Hi Charley, we hope you’re well, could you start by telling us a little about yourself and the work you produce?

Charley Peters: Thanks for visiting my studio, it’s so great to see you here! I’m an artist based in south London. I make paintings where abstract language and contemporary screen aesthetics collide, sampling familiar motifs from art history, retro gaming, TV and the Internet on canvases, walls and in public spaces. My work isn’t representative of things in the real world, but instead places different pictorial elements together to create dynamic compositions full of visual energy, colour, abstract shapes and graphic symbols. I think of my paintings as being like fantastical worlds that I’m creating, the contents of which remix elements of visual culture to make something new and unique. If there is a message in my work then it’s about the power of creativity to change lives, enhance spaces and to see the world differently. In my studio I mostly make works on canvas but I also work on larger projects outside of here, often collaborating with brands or other partners. In recent years my clients have included House of Vans, Facebook/Meta, ITV, Wembley Park and Hospital Rooms. I’m currently working on a collaborative sound sculpture with Concept Object, which you can see in the studio today.  

FP: Now, from prints to murals how do you best approach these kinds of projects? Does your mentality influence your works?

CP: When I’m working on paintings in the studio I have an intuitive approach, I don’t ever plan what I’m going to paint and start each canvas by applying colour to its surface. From there I start dividing up the canvas into areas where different types of painting will happen – it always begins as a very chaotic process, where I might throw paint onto the canvas and move it around to make its own shapes, gradually leading to more refined and precise painting on top. Projects like murals or anything involving a client usually take more planning, there are always lots of logistics involved with these things and I would provide a proposal of what the work will look like when it’s finished. It’s the opposite of how I paint in the studio and much less natural in terms of how my brain works but over time I’ve found ways to approach things in different ways. 

I don’t think my mentality influences my works much, I have a lot of work to do and just have to get on with it no matter how I’m feeling! Usually when I’m in the studio I feel really positive and just get in there and enjoy starting work. I do think sometimes that my work looks a bit like the inside of my head feels, I have a lot of energy and too many thoughts all at once. Ultimately I think all artists are making some kind of versions of themselves even if their work doesn’t look like them. 

FP: Now that we’re on the back of a very turbulent 2+ years, did your work keep you ‘sane’ during the pandemic, were you doing more or less?

CP: I think my work probably keeps me sane regardless of the pandemic! I feel very lucky that I had a good lockdown, I enjoyed losing some of the social distractions of normal life and it gave me a chance to reset a few things and focus on what felt most important. My studio is walking distance from my flat so I could still paint, it was a positive time for my work and I was able to be super productive and take some creative risks while galleries were closed. I feel strangely nostalgic about those times now, it’s suddenly really busy and noisy again and there’s too much to do! 

FP: Now, I’ve seen your work near enough everywhere, from Wembley Stadium to Facebook HQ, but Is there anywhere you haven’t been yet that you would love to paint? a specific wall? Headquarters? Or gallery?

CP: I generally get excited about any new project and always like being given unusual places to work. Now we can travel more freely I’d definitely like to work on some international projects. I’d also love to paint on a car – it would be so cool to see my work moving, and cars have such beautiful smooth surfaces and interesting shapes to work with. 

FP: So how did the Jordan 4 ‘blank canvas’ feel during your studio sessions? Did they live up to their name? (it looks like it haha)

CP: I love them so much, the fabric is exactly like the canvas that I paint on…they are the perfect shoe for me! As you can see, my studio is a messy place and it didn’t take long for the Jordan 4s to take on the character of the space. I love how the shoes record the making of the work, sharing drips of colour with the paintings I was making at the time. I move around a lot when I’m in the studio and the Jordan’s were incredibly comfortable, and robust enough to take whatever was dropped on them. They look really cool too, now I’d like a nice clean pair without all the paint on them! 

FP: Before we go, are there any words of wisdom you could bestow on fellow artists, or any shoutouts you would like to make?

CP: I think that all artists just need to remember that as long as they are making things and being creative they are doing the right thing. Trust in yourself, be brave, embrace your weirdness and don’t compare yourself to anyone else…we all have our own unique and magical paths in life.

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