Today Converse announced the launch of their “Made by You” campaign celebrating fans of the brand that have been using Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers as a form of self expression for nearly 100 years. Converse has curated a collection of Chuck All Star portraits, showcasing the endless diversity and self-expression of individuals past and present who have chosen to wear the shoes. International icons like Patti Smith, Andy Warhol, Futura, Jefferson Hack, and Glen O’Brien will be featured alongside portraits from everyday Chuck Taylor All Star wearers, and used in global exhibitions, which will turn the city streets of New York, London, Beijing and Mexico City into art galleries. We took some time to chat with Buff Monster about his relationship with converse, Buff Monster tattoos, and his love of the color pink.
Have you always been a fan of converse?
Yes, I was wearing converse in high school.
Did you customize your shoes back then?
No, not back then. I needed Converse to just function very specifically for me. In high school I loved hacky sack so I needed a shoe that had a nice wide surface on it and I had these converse boots that were awesome for that.
Last year you collaborated with Converse to release a limited edition All Star sneaker featuring your artwork, how did you first become involved with converse?
It was through the Wall to Wall program, I’m not sure if that program is still active, but they’d get artists to paint walls that would appear on the back cover of Juxtapoz [Magazine]. I painted this huge wall in Brooklyn and that was the back cover of Juxtapoz. Then we did a run of shoes, the DYO shoes with my artwork on them. For me the Converse project is all about the archetypal project, because I think it’s just win, win, win for everybody. Converse and I, we get to work with each other so that’s good because we have credibility and that’s great. Go to Brooklyn and get a free wall that doesn’t really have too much strong company branding on it and then with the shoes people that want a nice pair of shoes, limited run, at a reasonable price, they get that. I like that Converse can function more like an art supporter.
How is the “Made by you” campaign different from what you did with converse previously?
This is a little different obviously because they are really taking it to the streets in a way, trying to get peoples shoes that they wear, for performance or whatever. My shoes, I sent in two pairs of shoes, one were my pink shoes and one were my DYO shoes with my design. I’m glad they picked the pink shoes because those are the ones I paint every mural with. I think that’s an important part of Converse's story—it’s that every shoe tells a story.
You use a lot of pink in your work, is there a reason behind this?
Yeah, pragmatically I paint a lot of ice cream and I think pink should be in there. Conceptually, for me pink is a symbol of confidence, individuality and happiness. Of course, Buff Monster pink is custom made by me and it should be empowering for men and women. Pink is good. Pink is power.
What do you think of the campaign’s idea of making the Chuck Taylor All Star shoe into a badge of self-expression?
I think that that’s the way to go. Converse is such an iconic brand and they’ve been around for so long and they combine music and the arts, all that sort of stuff. I think it’s cool of them to look back at how people are actually using their product, their shoes, to pursue all the things that they want to be doing.
Let’s talk Buff Monster tattoos.
A lot of people get Buff Monster tattoos, I’m always happy to see it. People usually just take a piece of art that I’ve made that they like, obviously some are better than others. I try to keep an archive of them, usually I’ll just see them randomly on Instagram, but more and more I wish people just emailed their photos. I’d like to keep a database of it. I’m working on a book right now and I went through to find all the photos of the tattoos, I just laid out those pages yesterday actually.