Manuel Angot, of Art Force One, like so many others made a natural transition from graffiti into sneaker customization, although his transition was more natural than most : “I had a new pair of Air Force 1â€™s and my marker pen fell down and splashed on my new shoes. The rendering was kind of nice actually, like symmetrical stains.”
Manuel is clearly an optimist (how many sneakerheads would be delighted at stains on their shoes?) and this is reflected in his color selection, made up almost exclusively of neon colors. After recent collabs with Atmos, ALIEN, and Nike, Manuel is back to what he does best – making shoes look like discoballs.
“It makes me super happy when someone who bought one of my pairs tells me that it is exhibited in his living room.”
Format: Before customizing sneakers, you were already a part of the street art industry in France. Please discuss the work you did before customizing sneakers.
Manuel: Before painting on sneakers I used to do graffiti. I had my first encounter with this art in 1988/89 in Paris. I was looking at the bombed trains next to where my uncle lived and Iâ€™d copy all that on papers. Then in 1994 I started to put up on my own.
Format: Being that you were already addicted to sneakers, why did it take so long before you started customizing shoes?
Manuel: It all started as a mistake once, when I was tagging in the metro. I had a new pair of Air Force 1â€™s and my marker pen fell down and splashed on my new shoes. The rendering was kind of nice actually, like symmetrical stains
Format: You use an extremely bright palette. What attracts you to these colours?
Manuel: Fell into the Sneakers thing in 1990 /1991 and my addiction for that got soon confirmed when the Air Tech Challenge and the Command Force with their pumping system and all their fluo colours appeared, it was mad! It’s precisely that type of sneakersâ€”that eraâ€”that Iâ€™m retranslating into my customs, these incredible colours that remind me of my childhood.
Format: What exactly is Art Force One?
Manuel: Art Force One itâ€™s the name of my company and my brand that I built with my wife who is also a sneaker addict. We decide to give the name â€œForce Oneâ€ to the tribute of the emblematic model Air Force One, the first pairs that our moms bought us, and â€œArtâ€ you can guess itâ€™s for my works.
Format: For many people, the amount of colours you use, and the variety, make your shoes beautiful, but unwearable. How do you feel about that?
Manuel: Well it’s more than a pair of sneakers, it’s like a painting! It makes me super happy when someone who bought one of my pairs tells me that it is exhibited in his living room, it’s crazy! And as I said , for me Art Force One is a colour, my colour, it’s kind of hard for me to explain it.
Format: Many customizers add materials and modify the shoe when developing shoes whereas you generally do not. Why do you work primarily with paint as opposed to other materials?
Manuel: Yes, I have the plan to add materials. Itâ€™s just that I really love painting on sneakers, sometimes people say that I do too much. But, yeah 2008 will be a year full of surprises and even a little futuristic.
Format: What separates your work from other shoe customizers?
Manuel: My magic fingers.
Format: Recently you presented your work at Who’s Next in Paris. Please describe this experience.
Manuel: The Whoâ€™s Next, itâ€™s like the Magic in Vegas. I had the opportunity to be selected by many designers to present my work as a customizer and present my new clothing line.
It was cool. We met a lot of people from all over Europe during this week.
Format: What was your experience like working with Nike for the 25th anniversary of the AF1?
Manuel: It wasnâ€™t the first time that Nike France contacted me for an event but this time it was more exciting because it was for the book â€œParis in Forceâ€ for the anniversary of the AF1. A book itâ€™s immortal. I was very proud to be the person who represented the France for the customization. Itâ€™s the kind of experience that you canâ€™t forget.
More Info: http://www.art-force-one.com/