Shoefiti Covers New York Thanks to One Designer

Renée Snelson, design director at Luxury Rebel, has transferred her sketches of spiked heels and fashion-forward flatforms into another medium: street art.

“Shoefiti,” as she’s dubbed it, was a natural progression for her work, as graffiti has always been a rich source of inspiration, Snelson explained.

And she’s in good company in her home base of New York. British graffiti star Banksy consistently makes headlines (Upper West Side mainstay grocer Zabars has protected one of his designs behind plexiglass) and the art world has turned the spotlight on vibrant urban murals — from Eduardo Kobra’s colorful creations in Chelsea to Theodore Bradley’s fashion-inspired designs in Soho.

Here, Snelson talks to Footwear News about the process behind her urban creations and what’s next.

How did you get into street art?
As a shoe designer, I always have to consider the market and design functionality. As a way to not get stuck creatively, I started a shoe blog five years ago. I would post crazy shoe sketches and paintings that were created with the intention to be fun and free. It was important to me that I practiced the art of play in order to free my mind and push creative boundaries. I’ve always been in love with street art, and this influence can be seen in my style of painting.

Since I joined Instagram, I have been able to connect with street artists and art lovers, who have inspired me to take my work into the streets. I started doing street art earlier this year, and I have since been obsessed. It combines my favorite things: shoes and graffiti, with the intention to play.

How do you pick where and when to paint?
I’m so happy I live in New York and have access to amazing neighborhoods that are very supportive of street art, like the East Village, Lower East Side, Chelsea and Brooklyn. I go out whenever I’m free — night or day. I go to places that have abandoned buildings or popular tagging spots, where other street artists also have work. I sometimes ask permission, depending on the location. People have been very cool about it.

How long does one “painting” take?
I do both sticker art and wheat-paste art, so the whole process depends on the medium. It can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour to create a shoe sketch or painting. I usually do the final street art with photocopies. It only takes a few seconds to paste.

Do you take inspiration from your collection?
[My collection and street art] are two separate things to me but naturally influence each other.

What inspires you?
In art or design, I love an element of surprise. To me, the best designs tend to have an unexpected twist.
What’s your favorite shoefiti?
I have a special connect with all my paintings, but my favorite has yet to come!

Merrell Sponsored By Merrell

Women in the Wild

Merrell is redefining self-care by empowering and encouraging females to spend more time outside.
Learn More

Access exclusive content