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Sneakers by Manna Interview


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When was the first moment you decided you wanted to be an artist?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a professional soccer player.  I was, and still am, a huge soccer fan and loved watching the game.  I had my favorite players and teams, and I would be so obsessed that I would buy white shirts and paint at the store and go home and paint their logos and numbers on the shirts.  This was a weekly thing.  (Eventually I had so many shirts that I started cutting them up and made a quilt out putting them together).  I guess I’ve always been pretty artsy like that, but I never thought I was actually good enough to make a career out of art.  It was always a hobby, but it wasn’t until my senior year of college that I realized I could make a living out of my hobby.  I was studying graphic design, and one day when I was bored, I designed a pair of shoes on the computer.  I thought they looked pretty cool so decided to give it a go at actually making them.  When I was done, I had so many compliments on them and people begging for me to make them a pair, so I turned it into my own business and am still designing shoes daily.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I find most of my inspiration in my travels.  Every place you go has unique qualities that are special to them.  I love exploring and learning about different cultures.

If you could work with another artist, who would it be?
I’d really like to work with Zio Ziegler. I came across his work earlier this year when he collaborated with Vans and created his own shoes. This has been my dream for a while, so to see someone accomplish it was really inspirational. I started following him and his work and am endlessly amazed by how talented he is. The murals he paints all over are so incredible! I wish I could do that kind of art!

That's so dope!!!

What has been the best moment in your career?
In January, I got to surprise my idol, Steven Gerrard, with a pair of shoes I made for him.  Steven Gerrard is my favorite soccer player who played for my favorite soccer team, Liverpool FC.  I had the privilege of meeting him a couple of times, and dreamed of making him a pair of custom shoes.  I thought it would be a cool idea to surprise him with a pair, so I designed them to include things like the Liverpool logo, trophies he’s won, even his wife and daughters’ names on them.  When I got to give him to them he absolutely loved them and I don’t think I’ve had a more exciting moment in my life.  So yeah, that was a pretty awesome day.

What is your ideal day?
There are a few different scenarios.  If I want a laid back day, I’d say I’d wake up around 10, head to the beach with a blank pair of Vans and spend the day creating a custom pair of sneakers.  If I were feeling adventurous I’d love to travel and explore anywhere around the world.

If you could do anything, what would it be?
Spend a year traveling around the globe with no obligations, just continuing to make art.  As I said before, I love exploring and learning about different cultures, so I’d love to just take a year and do just that.  It would be amazing to spend a few days in each major city and just create a pair of shoes inspired by it.

Why do you create art?
I create art because I enjoy it.  To get to wake up everyday and do what you love is truly a blessing.  I love getting to be creative for a living. 

What is your dream project?How has your art changed throughout your life?
I started off being mostly inspired by soccer, but now I am more inspired by my travels. I am still very inspired by soccer, but now I am able to incorporate more things into my art, which helps it communicate with more people.

My dream project is to collaborate with Vans.  Obviously, I do my own work hand designing each pair of Vans, but I would love to create a few designs that would be meaningful to thousands of people and be able to have them sold in stores around the world.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?
A friend of mine actually posted this the other day, and it really stood out to me.  “If you have the wildest dreams in the world, then I encourage you to listen to your heart. No one can take away your dreams unless you let society and its negative, "realistic" opinions predict your life for you. Don't let the opinions of this world run your life.  Dream your dreams and make them a physical reality. 
Don't ever give up on yourself.”  I thought that was a pretty awesome thought.  I’ve continuously been told that what I’m doing is a hobby, but I still put everything I have into what I do in order to continue making it a living.

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