We went over to Leandro Dário’s house to dive into his art and his stories with sneakers. He does drawings, sculptures, photography, embroidery, street art, crochet with his own unique style. That’s how he ended up with a Converse ERX Impress Jewel High Top on his feet. Find out why out of all his shoes, he chose to talk about his ERX Impress Jewel for this interview.
How did you start your career in the art world?
I’ve worked for 12 years in the advertising market as an Art Director, and for the last 5 years, as a Creative Director. During this time, I did a post-graduation on art history and ended up getting more involved with art in general. I´ve always drawn for brands campaigns, but then I felt the need to have my own work. So, I decided to focus on that and really launch myself as an artist – it had always been a dream for me.
And then, I spent 6 years working with art, taking every opportunity to study what I could. So I took a course in sculpture, ceramics, painting, and also more drawing classes; I looked for a lot of free workshops in the city, I took several courses at Oswald de Andrade’s public library, and at SESC (Commerce Social Service) – there are many different things to do in São Paulo, but people don’t know about it due to lack of information. And there are so many free options, or sometimes for a very low price, you can learn the same thing you would at an expensive college. As I was focused in working with my art, I kept on developing as much as I could my expression in all the formats I could imagine. For a long time, I’ve created accessories with paper, with crochet. Then I turned crochet into street art. I made drawings, street murals, sculptures, also took photos, embroidery, and finally mixed everything. I´ve applied for incentive programs and put my work in galleries and museums – I’ve started building my curriculum portfolio as an artist.
What I like about it is being able to mix everything, I think it has a lot to do with me, my style is very mixed, it’s really mixed. I love Japanese culture, Japanese pop, Kawaii movement, these Harajuku-like things, I think they are much more evolved than us with this aesthetic thing. We’re talking about the East – which is theoretically a much older culture than ours here in the West – but I can tell they have a more contemporary reading of things than we do. I really believe that. So, I usually search for what they are doing there and try to in some way add it either in my style, or in the way I do my drawings, how I present my work. I think that’s cool.
LOTS OF PEOPLE ASK ME “DO YOU GET MAD WHEN PEOPLE TEAR THINGS?” I DON’T. I CAN’T EVEN BECAUSE WHEN I DO STREET ART, I DO IT FOR THE STREETS. YOU MUST BE AWARE THAT IT CAN GET RUINED, IT CAN RAIN, OR SOMEONE CAN VANDALIZE IT.
Does the city affect you / inspire you the way you do and think about art?
It’s fundamental for me as an artist to know and recognize the streets. I think that if I didn’t live on the streets, didn’t walk on the streets, didn’t talk to people, my art would be completely different. I like being out there, on events, talking to people on the streets and putting my work there too. For me is really cool when I take my work out of the gallery, or from inside people’s houses, and put it on the streets and it’s available to people so anyone can take it or ruin it. Lots of people ask me “Do you get mad when people tear things?” I don’t. I can’t even because when I do street art, I do it for the streets. You must be aware that it can get ruined, it can rain, or someone can vandalize it.
I think it also comes from my relationship with the city. To use the public space, be in it, and be aware that it is not mine. It´s ours. I think that people, especially in Brazil, they take ownership of things. They take ownership of the light pole, the sidewalk, they think that the sidewalk in front of their house is theirs, but it isn’t it. The sidewalk belongs to people. It’s supposed to be everybody’s.
What’s your relationship with sneakers? What does it mean to you?
I’ve always liked it. As a child, I used to get thrilled when my mother said “Son, we are going to buy you some new shoes”, I loved it! I usually chose the female model, because it was always the colorful, cool, fun and innovative ones. The men sneakers were black, gray, white or navy blue, and that’s it. But I never cared about brands, I just bought what my father could give me. I only had a Nike when I started working – which was at 15 in high school. Then I had a little money and could pay some bills, so I’ve decided, like, you know, to buy a Nike sneaker. But I’ve never freaked out with the brand, it was all about the model, the design, the colors.
Then I started buying sneakers when the economy in Brazil was booming and the dollar was super cheap, so many products arrived here. For example, I made lots of purchases in a foreign website to deliver in Brazil – I bought some cool T-shirts, glasses, sneakers – and then I started to get to know brands that weren’t here yet. So, for a long time I had many Puma sneakers, there was a collection inspired by Pop Art, I had all of them, one of each, I freaked out! Then there was the time that I only had Nike’s. I also bought a lot of Pony’s, like 10 at once! And I had purple with yellow, the pink print, avocado green… The craziest colors!
WHEN I WAS 4 YEARS OLD, MY MOTHER HAD A SHOE THAT I THOUGHT WAS INCREDIBLE. IT WAS THE DREAM OF MY LIFE. IT WAS A ZIPPERED CHUCK THAT YOU DISCONNECTED FROM THE LEATHER SOLE, PUT ON ANOTHER COLOR AND THEN YOU ZIPPED IT UP, IT HAD RED, BLUE, PURPLE AND SO ON. IT WAS AMAZING! MY DREAM WAS TO HAVE THOSE SNEAKERS.
But Chuck Taylors I started to love because of a Converse event I went and won a pair in those pet arcades, you know? It’s leather black, I still have it and now it looks like this… ruined. That’s when I got addicted to the model. I could only wear them, and at some point, Converse started sending them to me. I had access to several brands, so when I started doing my artwork, and became an influencer, they gave me some sneakers. But the shoes that I started to wear the most and that I liked the most ended up being Converse. Which was the brand that I most identified myself with. That also has a lot to do with when I was a kid, always wearing “Chuck’s”.
When I was 4 years old, my mother had a shoe that I thought was incredible. It was the dream of my life. It was a zippered Chuck that you disconnected from the leather sole, put on another color and then you zipped it up, it had red, blue, purple and so on. It was amazing! My dream was to have that shoe. And my mom would open it, change it, put it back… it was cool. And Punky Brewster wore Converse sneakers, right? She used to wear different pairs, one of each color, and that was my childhood. That’s something I love to do, I mix them up.
And why out of all your Converse did you choose this Converse ERX Impress Jewel High Top?
Because it’s a very special model, I think this is the most beautiful sneaker I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve always liked these crazy sneakers. It has everything to do with me. Do you know when you find something that looks like it was made for you? It feels like they looked at my photo and said: “I’m going to make Leandro Dario’s sneakers” (laughs). The material are great, I love these colors, blue is one of the colors I love the most. It’s sparkling inside, it has this iridescent part on the outside. This sneaker is very unicornish.
YOU KNOW WHEN YOU FIND SOMETHING THAT LOOKS LIKE IT WAS MADE FOR YOU? IT FEELS LIKE THEY LOOKED AT MY PHOTO AND SAID: “I’M GOING TO MAKE A SNEAKER FOR LEANDRO DARIO.