Vans 'Shoe Tossing' Concept Art for an Advertising Campaign
Each one of us saw a pair of shoes dangling from a telephone wire or a power line. Some of us smiled, some scratched their heads, others came up with a bunch of outrageous conspiracy theories to explain this urban phenomenon..
This concept advert for Vans sneakers was created for "Inside Illustration / Branding: The illustrated brand" workshop by a brilliant illustrator Justin Poulter and hosted by The Association Of Illustrators.
The brief was to create a landscape ad of a trainer/running shoe using just 3 colours. I've decided to use the idea of shoe tossing or "shoefiti", a practice of throwing shoes whose shoelaces have been tied together so that they hang from overhead wires. The practice is common in the skateboarding culture and the dangling old sneakers can always be seen near skate parks. I find this phenomenon fascinating and in a way a beautiful part of urban life, so I thought it would fit Vans brand perfectly.
The composition I've used tells the viewer a story instead of being just a static pack shot of a shoe. Also using the sneakers only as a small detail in the overall picture makes it an eye-catching advert; by being slightly obscure it invites the viewer to stop and explore the image.
After posting few images from this project on LinkedIn one comment raised the question whether shoe tossing is related to gang turfs and drug deals.. so apparently there is also this connotation in the US, but after a bit of a research it seems to be an urban myth which is largely unconfirmed.
Shoe tossing occurs in many cultures and dates way back. "In some cultures, shoes are flung as part of a rite of passage, like to commemorate the end of a school year or a forthcoming marriage." (Wiki)
I've always associated the practice with skateboarding culture or an act similar to "tagging".
There are in fact dozens of theories out there, so I probably agree the most with this conclusion: "It seems that they’re usually flung aloft for a multitude of reasons – or perhaps no reason at all – and trying to extract any kind of cultural significance from the custom is a waste of time." (urban75.org)
I'm also guilty of "marking the territory" this way in my teens and it wasn't drug/gang related.. I've done it because I found it rather amusing.