We Talk To SneakerToons About Art, Solebloc & Sneaker Culture
We caught up with Steven Piantoni, aka SneakerToons, discussing his passion for sneakers, recent projects and his take on the current sneaker industry.
If you’re an avid sneaker head and follow the big wide world of sneakers across social media, SneakerToons is no doubt a name you will be familiar with. Headed up by Steven Piantoni who currently works as an exterior designer for Jaguar, also goes under the alias SneakerToons when he’s not getting creative with luxury cars. Having also previously worked at Bentley, 2008 saw Stephen delve into the world of footwear design, working with the UK company Pentland, who look after the likes of Lacoste, Berghaus and Boxfresh to name a few. During his stint at Pentland, Stephen designed a range of trekking shoes for Berghaus as well the Boxfresh Spring/Summer collection for 2010.
How did you get involved with sneaker illustrations?
As a full-time designer and creative I’m always looking for new ways to express myself and apart from cars, I’d always liked sneakers. Although similar in many aspects, drawing shoes was a bit of escapism from the day job I guess. Back in 2013, in the early days of Instagram, I decided to enter the size? Nike Air Max Day competition. To my great surprise I was picked as one on the 3 winners. After this, I found myself with a new artistic outlet and audience. After dabbling in sneaker inspired tee’s, which had some success and sales, my enthusiasm and following grew. Fueled by this emerging interest in my work I founded SneakerToons. Nothing complicated about this one, just a love of sneakers and sketching. Starting as a #doodleaday that I posted on instagram. My cartoon style and razor sharp silhouettes really struck a cord within the sneaker community. With so many great shoes and collaboration colourways, requests began to appear in my DM’s. So it seemed only natural to take it to the next stage and sell them as limited edition mini prints.
We noticed you were involved with the recent Solebloc sneaker event in Glasgow, how was it?
Yes indeed! Solebloc was probably the best run sneaker event I have participated in so far. I’ve been involved in a few of the well known UK gigs, and this, albeit fairly small, was the most enjoyable. The people involved were some of the most professional, knowledgeable and friendly in the scene. I had only spoken through IG to most of the guys prior to visiting Glasgow, but they made me feel at home from the minute I arrived. Although It only happens once a year, I would definitely recommend making the trip up for the next one.
If you have to give us 5 of your best all time sneakers what would they be and why?
Haha, now your asking. A top 5 is always a killer! I’m not sure I can put them in order, but I’ll have a go at a top 5.
1. I’d probably have to say, the Nike Air Huarache Purple Punch. I still remember using my hard earned cash and buying these myself back In 1991. They represented my first “proper” trainers, (as they were called back then). Before that my best pair had been a pair of Head tennis trainers, that were a poor cousin of the Jordan 4 I think, haha.
2. I’d go with the Shadow 5000 Burger trainer from END. Clothing x Saucony. I was lucky enough to win a pair of these and also had gifted END. canvas prints of the SneakerToon version that were displayed in store on the release night. I still believe this is one of the best and most original collabs from the past 10 years. It has influenced many others and started the “food” related sneaker collaboration.
3. I’m opting for the ASICS GTII Northern Lytes by Hanon. I remember this pair being teased on the website I think and I had to have them. This was back before bots and the current re-selling trend. I new I stood a chance if I just stayed up till midnight! Sure enough I bagged a pair and was super stoked. The CW is awesome. I love the asymmetric colouring on the tiger stripes, its still a truly original trainer to this day.
4. Couldn’t be a top 5 without Tinker Hatfields crowning glory, The Nike Airmax 1. I own a few Air Max 87’s and there are so many I’d like, but that’s another story! My favourite of the ones I own is the HOA or History of Air from 2005 in the OG, Sport Red CW. Many claim it was the last of the “best’ shape AM 1’s and I love there graphic on the insole. It shows all the other classics Air Max’s that were in the pack.
5. I’ll go a little left-field with this one. The Walsh Ensign in yellow and peacock blue represents one of my proudest achievements in the sneaker game. I was lucky enough to win a competition that allowed my design to be put into production and also allowed me to visit the Bolton factory of Norman Walsh and see my shoe being made. I truly great experience and honour.
Why do you think the sneaker industry & sneaker culture has become so popular and influential over the last 5 years?
Interesting question this. If I’m being cynical, I’d probably say money. There’s so much hype around collabs, limited this, and pop star endorsement at the moment. This is not healthy for the scene and industry in the long term. Its feeding the greed in a minority of people and causing the true fans of the shoes to miss out or play the resell game. Bottom line is people have always collected sneakers from day one. Its just become inflated these past few years by the crossover of streetwear brands and celebrity. These collaborations, (most of which are terrible), unfortunately draw interest from those out to make a quick buck or are just init to “stunt” on instagram. I guess its all part of the game. and has been there in a lesser degree for a while. But ultimately I think the bubble will burst and the brands will have to go back to delivering new tech and quality GR shoes that we can all enjoy. I think its already starting to creep in with what Saucony have been producing in recent times. Interesting, well made shoes that need no celebrity or big name sneaker store involvement.
What other plans do you have with SneakerToons for the remainder of 2018?
There’s lots I’d like to do but my time is pretty limited these days. What with the day Job and bringing up my awesome daughter Amelie. Having said that I still have the dream of building the SneakerToons brand and producing my 3D collectables with brands licences and seeing them on the counter of every sneaker store across the country and around the world. If your going to dream, dream big right!?!
Just to end there and say a big thanks to Luke and the Real Clobber team for giving me the opportunity to share some of my thought with you.