6a010536e1ea81970c017ee80b031a970d.jpg[1]If you’re a veteran blog reader, you already know that in our dynamic duo I’m the one who “paints things that look 6a010536e1ea81970c011279619bdf28a4.jpg[1] look like things” (Margot’s words, not mine). You also already know that I have a love/hate relationship with making things hard on myself — such as using a toothpick to paint black outlines on intricate paisley designs.

That’s why, when Margot showed me the work of Toronto artist Graham Van Houten, who created a pair of art shoes called War Games for Toronto Loves Kicks’ Design Project, I instantly fell in love.


Image from Toronto Loves Kicks’ Design Project Blog

Van Houten shares that his design was inspired by a chess battle, saying, “I thought that the head to head competitive nature of chess would be appropriate, as well as interesting to interpret.  Since the shoe is basically divided into three separate panels on two separate objects I could illustrate the concept from a few angles.  I liked the idea of the pieces of the game coming to life and becoming characters, and I tried to make them echo each other, while having a few differences to distinguish the two opposing kingdoms (and feet).”


Jack and the Beanstalk, created for the children’s section of the Cambria (CA) Library. Destiny Carter, 2012

I’m in awe, and immensely inspired. He doesn’t mention what type of ink he uses to alter his Converse High Tops. I’ve used Sharpies on canvas shoes in the past (as well as my toothpick method with fabric paints).

I love to create art in the style of old etchings, so now that Margot and I have learned about a couple of new fabric ink pens, I think I may need to try this technique on a pair of “kicks,” to test out the life span of various inks. For scientific (shoe) purposes of course!

Be sure to check out the FULL set of images showing the step by step of Van Houten’s creative journey here!

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