This is a sponsored article on behalf of Converse.
As we make our way around London, our trusty sneakers bear witness to our journeys and experiences. Whether you’re a muddy park walker or smart gallery-goer, a sandy Thames forager or a busy commute scuffer — your footwear tells your story.
Converse know this and are honouring the individualism of each sneaker wearer with the new Made By You campaign. Each pair of their Chuck Taylor All Stars is lifted out of the box as a fresh canvas, but as time goes on the lived-in pair becomes an expressive self-portrait of the wearer and the paths they've chosen to take.
The Four Walls project, viewable in London for today only, has provided a further opportunity for self-expression by London artists who love their Chucks by commissioning four original street art works in different parts of the capital. We met with Ashley Jagdeo — the artist behind the Deptford Bridge artwork — to chat about his creation, what drives his creative spirit, and what Made By You means to him.
Tell us about your street art design — what's it look like and how did you come up with the concept?
I came up with the idea together with Aaron Anthony who works at my studio, The Circle London. We thought about creating something unique that included fundamental elements of the Chuck Taylor. We are both huge fans of sacred geometry, with Aaron himself being one of the most popular tattooists in London who specialises in Mehndi and geometric patterns. We looked at the body chakras and decided to create an eighth one for the feet, naming it the 'Chuckra'. This led to us creating the Converse mandala pattern, the 'Condala', using key design elements of the Chuck Taylor.
Tell us more about why you picked a Mandala — what does it mean to you?
Mandalas are beautiful patterns that become mesmerising when focussed on. Originally these patterns were used as a part of meditation techniques, allowing the brain to focus on the pattern and creating a peaceful, calming state of mind. The principal form is perfectly symmetrical, the same as atoms and every macrocosm element in the universe. Chakras are energy points in the body, however it never made complete sense to me that there was not one lower than the pelvis. Your feet are definitely energy points in my eyes, connecting the body to the earth and also enabling the body to move forward — it made absolute sense to create an eighth for this project.
Is painting on walls much of a different canvas from tattooing skin, or are there parallels?
No matter what the medium is I find creating art a wonderful thing and I love to surround myself with creative people. Although I do not tattoo professionally I have been known to tattoo friends — however I leave the real work to my artists at the shop. I enjoy working with my team on interesting collaborations, be it clothing, laser cut skateboards, or wall murals, a unique take on things is always what I aim for, I’m just lucky to have such talented people to help implement my mad hatter ideas.
What story do your Chucks tell?
My Chucks represent me and my life. Covered in chain grease from my daily cycling, tattoo ink from the last tattoo I had done on my calf, not to mention scuffs and scrapes from constant wear. I think your Chucks become like a fingerprint of the wearer’s life and exploits. Just like tattoos, we are all given a blank vessel in the beginning, it all depends on us to how we choose to embellish them.
Do you always aim for the box fresh look or are you proud of a bit of toe poking out?
It really depends on how you are wearing them. I have worn box fresh Chucks with a Savile Row suit before and they made the outfit look so much better than a pair of stuffy shoes. On the other hand, if I’m wearing a pair of jeans or shorts of a summer's day, I don’t want to be afraid of getting them a little dirty and worn in, they just become individual in my opinion.
Meanwhile, over in Shoreditch, a London-shaped installation of Polaroid photos shows what the individual journeys of over a thousand pairs of Chucks look like. Created by London artist Damilola Odusote, along with students from Central Saint Martin’s, the Made By You installation features thousands of Londoners posing with their well-worn sneakers alongside six well-chosen words telling their personal stories.
All four street artworks are viewable for one day only on 2 March. As well as Ashley Jagdeo's piece by Deptford Bridge, you can also find Sam Taylor's on Shacklewell Lane, Daniel Hirschmann's by Camden Lock and Sean Frank's on Portobello Road. All are free to enjoy.
The Made By You installation is open all on 2 March (9am-6pm) and then from 3-8 March, 12-8pm at 3-10 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6PG. For more on the Made By You campaign, visit www.converse.co.uk.