For years, folks have been copping a fresh pair of simple Slip Ons only to create their own designs on the canvas or scribbling on the midsole to set themselves apart from everyone else. Now, with the help of some dope Black artists, Vans is making sure that even those who are artistically challenged can get something different (and exclusive) but connecting with four Black artists– Rewina Beshue, Chris Martin, Sydney G. James, and Tony Whlgn– to uplift their creative work and donated to Black Art Futures Fund.
First up is Christopher Martin, a multidisciplinary artist based in North Carolina, whose custom image is a blackbird with flowers in its mouth as it escapes from chains. In the Vans Customizer, you’re able to take that image and put it on a pair of Slip Ons, SK8 Hi’s, Old Skools, Eras, Authentics, or even a backpack, and customize the color and position. Though Martin doesn’t directly explain the work’s inspirations, he makes his sentiment clear when speaking on what he hopes viewers get from his work.
“I’m focused on what I’m willing to give rather than what I would like for others to take away — like telling a story of how we stood up seven times to continue fighting instead of the six times being knocked down, flipping the negatives into positives, showing off our scars as a sign of strength rather than focusing on the pain endured,” he said.
The other works include Syndey G. James who’s offering appears to be a woman hiding in the shadows, Tony Whlgn — who owns a Detriot-based art and design firm by the same name– which features a simple design of leaves and flowers, and Rewina Beshue, who gratefully flexed her printmaking abilities.
To support the artists, Vans will be donating $40,000 to the Black Art Futures Fund who focuses on “amplifying and strengthening the future of Black art. This donation will fund granting efforts to small and community-based Black arts organizations across the country.”
Start designing your pair here.