The Brooklyn Art Project

Brooklyn.  My favorite borough in all of New York City.  While all boroughs have things that are unique about each one, Brooklyn to me has always had the most character.  I love the brownstones, the cafes and restaurants (all the boroughs have awesome eateries but BK sticks out to me the most), and the overall culture.  Another thing I've always loved about the borough is the huge amount of art here...whether gallery art, street art, or otherwise.

One of the main things that brought me to New York years ago was the amount of artistic inspiration there is here.  As a lifelong artist, i've always been the type of person who gathers inspiration not just from actual art, but things in life itself that most people take for granted.  It could be anything from random scenery to fashion to canvas art to graffiti art....all things that Brooklyn has in abundance.

So a few months ago, I got the desire to do a shoe inspired by things that I saw and see around the borough in my daily travels.  That shoe idea later turned into 3 shoes, which later turned into 5.  So without further ado, here is the Brooklyn Art Project.

1 (of 5): "Walls Of Dumbo"

The section of Brooklyn known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) is an area near the waterfront that was once an industrial area that housed factories and warehouses but over the decades has transformed into an area with shops, restaurants, and various other businesses as well as access to the Brooklyn Bridge and is home to Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Another interesting thing about DUMBO is that it maintains a certain grittiness to it, specifically with a few graffiti laced walls and what I like to call "Old sticker and billboard walls".  This wall here in particular stuck out to me because I feel like the old torn billboard ads and graffiti tags have a certain beauty to it.

This was a big inspiration for my first shoe of the series, titled "Walls of Dumbo":

What I was going for here was my interpretation of the torn billboard covered walls seen in the area.  While doing an all out graffiti theme would have been cool, I felt like it would've been a little to obvious and instead went for the billboard walls instead, which as mentioned before have a certain beauty of their own.  With this shoe I came up with the matching "Brooklyn Art" t-shirt:

Order the "Walls of Dumbo" set here:

2 (of 5): "Splash Art"

The idea for this shoe came from a painting I saw near the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens one day.  The idea had been stuck in my head afterwards so I went home and immediately began working on a template design, knowing what shoe I wanted to use and all.  I took the template design, finalized a color scheme, and when the time came to start the work, I grabbed the chosen base shoe (the classic Nike Air Force 1) and got to work:

I call them "Splash Art" due to the black lines in the design that resemble splashes of ink throughout the shoe.  For a finishing touch, I added in some custom lace locks that I had made a while ago that I hadn't really used.  This shoe is complimented with the matching "Brooklyn Hashtag" t-shirt:

The "Splash Art" Set can be purchased here:

3 (of 5): "Coney Island"

Although it is an actual residential neighborhood, the first thing people associate the area with when the hear the name is its famous amusement park, which in a way can be considered the successor to the now-defunct Steeplechase Park, which was open from 1897 to 1964 and was created by George C. Tilyou (whose face now graces many of the attractions at Coney Island and is known to many as the "Tillie Face"):

Since Coney Island is a major staple of Brooklyn and one of the most famous parks in the world, I felt it was only right to dedicate a shoe to it.  This is the before pic of the base shoe, the Air Jordan Laney 5:

And here is the finished product:

If you notice the rear panels of the shoes, they feature the names of many of the Coney Island attractions such as Luna Park, Nathan's (Coney has been the home of the original Nathan's Hot Dogs since 1916), Steeplechase (there's a roller coaster with the name but I added it as a nod to the original Steeplechase Park), Wonder Wheel, MCU Park (which was the home of the original Steeplechase Park and now the home of minor league baseball team the Brooklyn Cyclones), The Cyclone, NY Aquarium, Mermaid Parade, and many other attractions.  I also added the D,F,N, and Q logos as these are the MTA subway trains that will take you to Coney Island from other points in New York.  Plus I included a nod to the classic movie The Warriors, which most of it is based in Coney Island.  When coming up with the original templates for the series, this was the one that I had reworked/redesigned the most.  I lost track of how many times I retooled this design before finally settling on how I wanted to execute the final design.

Plus anyone who's visited the Coney Island USA site ( will notice that these shoes feature the exact same color scheme as the website (which was done on purpose).  This pair includes the "Planet Brooklyn" t-shirt:

The "Coney Island" set can be purchased here:

4 (of 5): "Williamsburg"

Back when I used to come here as a visitor from Philly, Williamsburg was probably the first area of Brooklyn I visited.  My cousin took me here to hang out one day and I was immediately entranced with the culture and vibe here.  It's a booming area of artists, shops, and eateries and is usually always busy.  By far the most art heavy area of Brooklyn i've been to.  I've met fellow artists here and even shown a canvas painting or two at a show here a few years back.  I've also seen a ton of awesome wall art here..from commissioned art to random graffiti tags:

It's impossible to walk through this area as an artist and not be inspired and captured by something.  After a recent walk through the area in the midst of putting together my series I knew I had to do something Williamsburg-inspired.  So I decided I wanted to work with a base shoe that I hadn't touched before, that being the Puma Roma shoe.  Here is the before:

And here is the finished product:

This shoe was inspired by all the eye-popping colors and details that I saw on a trip to the area one day.  I soaked up the energy like a sponge and knew right away what I wanted to do.  I wanted to capture all the energy I felt that day and think I managed to do so.

Now this next part is a little tongue and cheek humor:  Williamsburg is called by many the neighborhood that's home to mostly "hipsters" (btw I have no problem with hipsters), so I came up with this shirt to go with the shoes.  This is the "This Is My Hipster Disguise" 3/4 sleeve t-shirt:

The shirt features a silhouette of a guy with with a "hipster beard" behind the colorful lettering.  The "Williamsburg" set can be ordered here:

5 (of 5):  "Scenery"

This one is pretty much a just what it sounds like.  It was mostly inspired by things seen in Bed Stuy, Fort Greene, Greenpoint, Dumbo, Williamsburg, Flatbush, and Borough Park.  I pretty much took all of that and mashed it up into this shoe.  There's even the inclusion of a silhouette of the Brooklyn Bridge on the right shoe.  For the base shoe with this one I went with the classic Adidas Superstar II (better known as the Shelltoe Adidas):

This shoe includes the "Brooklyn Life" T-Shirt:

The "Scenery" set can be ordered here:

And there you have it, my Brooklyn Art Series!  I hope you all enjoyed viewing my latest project.  I put a lot of hard work into this one, probably more so than usual, but also had a crazy amount of fun making it.  I can honestly say this is the most fun i've had on a sneaker project in a long time.  I should also mention these items will only be available for a limited time (probably only until mid-late summer).  Looking forward to gracing everyone with more projects in the near future!