Phil Robinson, aka Filfury, is a British artist who has managed to turn sneakers into masterpieces. He repurposes the lace, stitching, leather, and logos to form birds, bats, skulls, and insects.
Robson describes his work as “a battle of pop culture vs nature”, and is heavily influenced by his 90s childhood, hip hop, UK garage, and an addiction to sneakers and sportswear.
He began his work digitally, putting the pieces together using Photoshop and creating large prints onto canvas. Since he’s moved on to actually sculpt his designs out of real shoes, bringing his imagined structures to life.
“I get inspired by the form of the shoe and enjoy the idea of repurposing some of my favourite objects,” explains Robson.
“I think about what the shoe reminds me of. I start with the question, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if…’ I then look for reference pictures of the new object online. I take photographs of the shoe from several angles then jump into digitally painting the pieces together. And now, I’m creating my sculptures with no Macs involved.”
Robson’s work has been exhibited internationally, and he has worked with sneaker brands like Nike and Adidas to create collaborative image work for campaigns and shoe designs. He has amassed a cult following in outlets of sneaker culture, and has tapped creatively into one of the most lucrative industries in the world.
“The reality is that as an artist there is this major gap you have to bridge between money and creativity. For me there was a time around when my first son was born, that I thought my responsibilities would really restrict me from doing things I loved. So I took what I knew how to do, and what I knew could make money, which is commercials and graphic design, and combined it with something I loved and had around me – my Nikes,” explains Robson. “Do it for the love and if you love it enough it will bring you success – if success equals doing what you love. You just have to learn to work yourself into the market.”
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