In honor of Black History Month, Vans is teaming up with a group of four Black artists on a limited-edition footwear collection. Creatives Rewina Beshue, Sydney G. James, Chris Martin, and Tony Whlgn each designed a pattern exclusive to the Vans collaboration, available to be customized on different Vans footwear and accessory styles.
San Francisco-based multimedia artist Beshue, who has worked on projects with musician Toro y Moi and handbag label Baggu, takes inspiration from her experience growing up as a Black woman in San Francisco, saying that her art "is not cryptic, it is not deep, it is a combination of my experiences, my personality, and my thoughts."
"It brings me absolute joy to use my art to uplift Black art communities," she said in an official statement. "It is important to use my platform to amplify positivity in Black communities through art and creativity."
Beshue hopes that her collaboration with Vans will inspire people to simply think and create. Below, she shares what it was like to work with Vans, her thoughts on 2020, and where she hopes to take her art in the future.
How did you come up with the print you created for Vans?
I wanted to create something loud and fun. One of my biggest inspirations for this project is Akiyoshi Kitaoka. He is a psychology professor who specializes in visual perception and visual illusion using geometric shapes. I love his use of interactive art. I wanted to create something mesmerizing, playful, and fun to wear.
How has your art changed at all over the past year during quarantine, the election, and the Black Lives Matter protests?
This past year, I have made it my goal to dedicate all my art projects to uplift Black communities, as well as bring awareness to social injustices. It’s important to use my presence in the art world and my voice to direct attention to and bring positivity and growth in Black communities.
You’ve had your designs printed on merch, in books, and now shoes. Where are you hoping to take your art in the coming years?
I'm hoping to explore and dabble in other ways of showcasing my art. I really want to start making stuff for people to own. I have been doing a lot of brainstorming and I have a few ideas that are exciting. I’ve recently taken up an interest in ceramics and home goods, so maybe you’ll see some of that in the future.
Where have you been finding inspiration lately?
A lot of my inspiration lately has come from friends and family. I am surrounded by loving people who encourage me every day to create and push myself to full potential. It honestly keeps me going to hear encouraging words from my boyfriend, friends, and family.
What was it like working with Vans on this project?
Very fun! I love working with Vans. It’s hard as an independent artist to work with big brands in general, but Vans makes me feel seen and heard. They believe in my creativity and my ideas. I had creative control on the shoe design, which means I was able to go as far and fun as I wanted.
Are you excited to see your print on shoes out in the real world?
OMG yes! I can’t wait to start skating in my shoe. That’s going to be a mind-blowing feeling!