Whether it’s a street, a borough, a city, or a country, art is often the product of the artist’s surroundings. After all, how can you not be inspired by the people, places, and things that surround you every day? Back in September when we interviewed artist Dan Cole about his “Game Changers” sneaker stamp designs, we found out that he lives in Portland, Nike’s headquarters. Artist and designer Marcus Allen hails from Staten Island, which probably sounds familiar because it’s also the Wu-Tang’s home turf. As a result, Marcus’ work definitely reflects his roots in the streets and culture in New York. Not only is Marcus an artist, he’s also a true sneakerhead (with a fruitful stint at Nike, as you’ll read later) and a hip hop enthusiast. We were immediately drawn in by Marcus’ Iconic Kicks series that showcased his clean aesthetic and deep knowledge of sneaker culture, so we hit him up to find out more about his favorite joints, what inspires him, and making a living creating what he loves. Read on!
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ILLUSTRATION STYLE? DID YOU STUDY ART?
Well, I’ve always liked to draw since I could hold a pencil. Always did it in my spare time and not so spare time. But I took some art and design classes in high school where I developed my style. Overall my style reflects the kind of things I’m into.
YOUR WORKS SPANS ALL KINDS OF DIFFERENT SUBJECTS INCLUDING KICKS, SPORTS, MUSIC, AND CULTURE; WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO START A NEW PIECE?
My inspirations are my surroundings. My work is simply a reflection of a moment in time. Whether it’s a pair of kicks that just dropped, lyrics in a song, a message or a thought that I communicate visually.
YOUR “ICONIC KICKS” SERIES FEATURES SOME LESSER KNOWN STYLES LIKE GHOSTFACE’S CLARKS WALLABEES, BRUCE LEE’S ASICS, AND FOREST GUMP’S CORTEZS, HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR SUBJECTS?
With this series I pretty much highlighted footwear of characters, and artists and people that are somewhat significant to me and other people connected through my culture. Whether it’s something that’s buzzing now like the Red Octobers or something I was into growing up like Goku’s Boots. I also wanted to show my audience a different perspective of these iconic kicks so I illustrated them off of the people/characters.
Yup, I have some that I haven’t posted yet and a couple I plan to showcase. Eventually I’m going to do a poster of the whole series.
YOU DEFINITELY HAVE SOME SERIOUS SNEAKER KNOWLEDGE, WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PAIR OF KICKS THAT YOU OWN AND ALL-TIME FAV?
Ahhhh, my favorite pair that I currently own are my Skunk SBs. Favorite of all time would have to be the Space Jams.
Haha don’t tell em but, I got the Lebanon SBs and the Levis 1s
The biggest challenge for me and a common challenge for many artists…Financial Backing…You know, the term “starving artist.” But, as I’m growing I’m learning that there are many ways around it.
YOU’VE CURATED SOME ART SHOWS IN AND AROUND NEW YORK, ANY FELLOW ARTISTS YOU’D LIKE TO SHOUT OUT?
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT SO FAR?
The Gotta Find Me sticker pack. I’m still amazed by the response and the places I’ve found them in. (Grab your very own here)
HAS IT BEEN THE BIGGEST SELLER ON YOUR SHOP?
LASTLY, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE FROM YOU THIS YEAR?
More artwork, products, events and collaborations.
I’m curating a NBA 2K14 Tournament in Manhattan on March 8th . So if you THINK you’ve got skills in 2K enter! If you win you’d win my artwork along with some other cool stuff.
Marcus Allen’s “Selfie”