Posts Tagged ‘taking’

Meet the Painter Who’s Taking Sneaker Art Back to its Origin

Cardboard has a strong significance in the history of sneakers and the hip-hop culture that helped birth the footwear fixation we know today. The material that made the boxes shoes were sold in became a vehicle for both branding and nostalgia, while the medium in more traditional sizing and storage was flattened and refashioned as a stage for break dancers in NYC and beyond.

For New York product turned LA artist Ryan Flaitz it is the canvas for all of his creations. Painting under the signature of Flaitz Whatever, the child of the ’90s has become the man with the brush, boxing out any outside expectations by reviving his favorite sneakers and pop culture icons one cardboard creation at a time.

Painting his whole life, the brush played the background to sports growing up. As an adult, they’ve intersected as his day job as the founder and artist at PSD Underwear — which houses Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Bulter and more as endorsers — collided as another creative outlet but also a base for clients. Always interacting with athletes, many sports stars have picked up his paintings with all others coming from referrals. Because of this, he has the freedom to do what he loves without having to worry about an outside audience. There’s no worry to get rid of things, so he’s able to turn down most offers and simply makes what he wants.

What he wants is to recreate the kicks he coveted as a kid while also playing to pop culture and his new home of Los Angeles. “I’m an LA artist, so I wanted to create an edgy collection by painting the clean-cut characters roughed up. I mixed Mickey with the movie The Crow, put him in Chucks, and after that it was on to the next and I have a 12 piece collection. I’m actually selling the Kermit piece I did which I’ve been holding onto since I did it when Cleveland won the championship and LeBron got his third ring. I finally got a good offer and it will be the first to leave the collection.”

The good offers may help validate the worth and hard work, but they don’t dictate the direction. For Ryan, it’s all about doing it for his own expression rather than the approval of the public, something that ironically mirrors his sneaker game.

“I enjoy being more underground than out there in the flashiness of the public. It’s funny, because this is based off of shoes and my favorite pair of shoes are those OG Nike Flights. Most people would say that’s crazy but I feel like they’re the realest pair of shoes I own because they’re originals, they’ve aged and I know when I wear them no one else is gonna have them. There’s a lot of life in them and they’re from the ’90s. I love ’em.”

The shoes may turn heads for collectors, but the work gets even more attention. “My work definitely gets a reaction,” says Ryan. “Once it’s framed it really takes it to another level.” While this proves true of painted recreations of shoes like the “South Beach” 8s or renderings of Sonic the Hedgehog, it even spans to a recent piece called Beast Mode that’s composed of over 200 pieces of cardboard, standing at 9 feet tall.

So, for any artist looking to come up or get on what advice would Ryan give?

“As cliche as it sounds, you’ve just gotta stay true to yourself and believe in your value. I remember the first time I painted on cardboard the first 20 people that saw it said, ‘That’s cool but you’ll never be able to sell it.’ But I knew that I could create the value because of the talent I was given and how hard I worked at it. The longer I held on the more the value increased and now I’m reaching numbers I never thought I’d reach. Just continue to do it if you enjoy it and don’t worry about what’s popular in the public eye because times change. When I was young, it was more about wanting to look cool and people to like you, but as you grow up it’s all about the people you care about and if you make them proud that’s all that matters.”

Keep up with Ryan’s work on the IG account @flaitzwhatever. All photography by @jpshotyou.

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Fans Are Convinced J. Cole Is Taking Shots At Lil Pump On ‘1985’

J. Cole is 33. Lil Pump is 17. In hip-hop, that age difference might as well be a chasm as big as the Grand Canyon. Today (April 20), J. Cole dropped his fifth studio album, KOD. The project finds Cole taking a satirical look at modern hip-hop and the drugs, money, and materialism he feels fuels it. “1985 – Intro To ‘The Fall Off’” is one of the more pointed and antagonistic tracks, which finds the Fayetteville MC targeting an unnamed rapper who fans have determined is Lil Pump or maybe Smokepurpp.

During the track, J. Cole takes various pointed jabs. The beginning of his verse starts with the observation, “I’m fuckin’ with your funky lil’ rap name / I hear your music and I know that rap’s changed / A bunch of folks would say that that’s a bad thing / ‘Cause everything’s commercial and it’s pop now.”

Pump and Purpp have made it their mission to mess with J. Cole in a variety of ways. In April 2017, a song titled “Fuck J. Cole,” reportedly by Lil Pump made its way to the internet. Earlier this week, Smokepurpp joked that he had a standout feature on Cole’s album. In a January interview with Montreality, Smokepurpp referenced his trolling of the North Carolina rapper.

“Nowadays everything is kind of a troll,” Purpp said. “So people do know that [J. Cole tweets] its trolling, but if you don’t like we don’t care. Pump doesn’t care.”

Cole’s indictment of rap’s new generation speaks to some of Purpp’s assessment of the “OG-versus-new rapper” debate. Toward the middle of his verse the bars get more acidic as he raps, “They wanna see you dab, they wanna see you pop a pill / They wanna see you tatted from your face to your heels / And somewhere deep down, fuck it, I gotta keep it real / They wanna be black and think your song is how it feels.”

“1985″ isn’t the first time Cole has been critical of the rap landscape. On “Everybody Dies” many thought he took aim at Kanye, Lil Uzi Vert, and Lil Yachty. With lines like, “Bunch of words and ain’t sayin’ shit, I hate these rappers / Especially the amateur eight week rappers / Lil’ whatever – just another short bus rapper,” it isn’t hard to see why.

The recipient of Cole’s message may not be confirmed by the rapper. However, the message for the hip-hop community is coming through loud and clear.

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Are you taking the lady somewhere special this week? My…

Are you taking the lady somewhere special this week? My favourite online store, Gilt, has you looking good for the occasion!

Shop Date-Night Looks on Gilt >

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