Art and Air Jordans with Runsy 

Art and Air Jordans with Runsy 

by Ollie Cox
6 min

In case you didn’t know, the Air Jordan 1 Low OG Shadow is releasing this month. And to celebrate, Chicago-based artist Runsy has teamed up with Jordan Brand to give an inside look at her creative process.

It’s the Jordan 1 Low’s everyday wearability that draws Runsy to the silhouette, where its all-around comfort, stemming from its basketball heritage, informs her own style. For Runsy, storytelling is key to her creative process, which spans photography, illustration, and installation, exploring her identity as a Mexican-American woman. 

The AJ1 Low is packed with history, first released in 1985 to offer basketball fans and sneakerheads a more wearable off-court silhouette inspired by the hugely popular Air Jordan 1 sneaker. As well as being Michael Jordan’s first-ever signature shoe, it is one of the most widely recognisable Nike models to ever release and has been worn by sports stars, musicians and fashion heads ever since. 

With the release of the Air Jordan 1 Low “Shadow” around the corner, we caught up with Runsy to talk about all things Air Jordan 1 Low, the role of sneakers and streetwear in art, and making a career as a creative. See what we got up to below. 

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Hey Runsy, how’s things? 

Things are good, life is good! 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, what are you wearing today?

Today I am wearing an AWAKE NY jacket, blue jeans, and Air Jordan 1 Low ‘Shadow’. I’m big on jewellery and accessories, so I have to add those in too. 

You have previously said that your time in college led you to want to pursue art as a career. Where did you find the motivation and self-belief to make the move? 

When I was in college, I was on a path toward a career that I knew wouldn’t fulfil my dreams or hunger. I was also a great student, which made it easy to stay on that career path. After joining a contest on IG to have my work shown in an art book, I was one of the few who got selected to have their artwork in the book, an art show in LA, and merchandise. At that point, I knew that my dream had to be pursued and that this was a sign from the universe that I could make art into a career. Also, if I was a great student for a career I didn’t want to be in, I would be an even greater artist because Art was my true passion. 

When it comes to creating new work, where do you look for inspiration?

For me, the best inspiration comes from revisiting the places and things that make me happy and remind me of who I am. Sometimes that looks like taking a trip to Mexicó, visiting a museum, or a thrift store. Other times I look at interviews, movies, books, music, or even a t-shirt I haven’t worn in a long time for inspiration. 

The Air Jordan 1 is a mega sneaker from 1985 and is an icon that has stood the test of time. Does nostalgia help inform your creative process?

Oh absolutely. I love to watch old interviews of the greats and reference them in my art as well as old movies. Since my art is very realistic, it is driven by specific memories of a collection of things and moments in time that make me, me. 

You’re known for working across mediums. Do you find yourself gravitating to one particular medium, is there one you love the most? 

Drawing is my passion. It’s such a patient activity that it’s also very difficult to stay focused no matter how many drawings I create. That’s why I create other works in between– basketballs, t-shirts, or smaller pieces because when I get a bit impatient I still can participate in creating art while giving my drawings the love and consideration that they deserve to reach completion. 

What is one thing about Runsy that people don’t know that they should? 

I’m a nerd. Give me a topic and by tomorrow I will tell you every single thing I learned about it! 

How does being part of a creative community help with your work?

It’s always really nice to have friends whose taste you trust as a second set of eyes. It’s also great to have creative friends to talk to when I’m not feeling inspired, who understand the feeling, and finding inspiration in the conversation itself. 

Can you talk me through a typical day in the studio?

First, I make a pot of coffee and then I play chess against myself. It keeps my mind sharp and it’s something to look forward to since I don’t have a chessboard at home. Then I put on a good album, or podcast and get to drawing. My days tend to be very long at the studio, so I like to make sure I still have fun in my space. What is one item that you can’t live without in the studio? My pencils of course! 

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How would you describe your studio style? 

Romantic. It is not only my place of work, but it is my passion and life. Romanticising the mundane is the key to life. 

In your eyes, how do streetwear, sneakers and art come together? 

Today I woke up and chose very specific sneakers to help me get the job done in the studio. Sneakers that I’m not afraid to bend or get graphite on. When I’m out in the real world, those shoes tell my story as an artist. Streetwear says I’m fly and I’m comfy and reminds me of my identity in the studio. All of these are forms of expression in themselves, just as I do when I express myself in my art. 

Are there any similarities between the way you engage with fashion and how you approach your art?

I love making art about power and wearing clothes that make me feel powerful. That being an oversized t-shirt, an extremely elegant suit, or me being iced out in jewellery– I make sure that me and my art stand out as a strong woman and a Latina. 

What are you dreaming of next?

I’m dreaming of my shoe collaboration. 

The Air Jordan 1 Low “Shadow” will be released on May 10 via the Jordan website and select retailers.  

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