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Fine artist who customises your sneakers

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UNITED Kingdom-based Zimbabwean artist Lavish Mac has turned his passion into business. He customises sneakers through portraits and paintings.

The 27-year-old Lavish had to drop out of university just to pursue his passion, which he says started at the tender age of five. He says plans are afoot to start a business with other creatives to produce custom-made sneakers. Lavish Mac (LM) speaks to The NewsHawks’ Jonathan Mbiriyamveka (JM) about his art. Read the excerpts:

Lavish (left) with DJ Fantan

JM: Are you a full-time artist/painter or you have a day job?

LM: I am a full-time artist. I paint every single day for about 10-12 hours. I used to be at university, but I left so I can focus on art, my childhood dream. 

JM: You have done some amazing artwork, drawing portraits and customising sneakers. How did it all start?

LM: I’ve been drawing and painting since I was five years old. I stayed on course even when I was in school doing other subjects. The custom trainers started off in 2016 when I started my first year at DeMontfort University. I realised a gap in the world of trainers, meaning there were only a few styles of trainers in the UK and most of the special editions sold out like hot cakes. I then started practising mainly on Nike Air Force Ones and my style grew from basic colours to portraiture on the shoes.

JM: What do you use for your paintings and what are the subjects of your paintings?

LM: I use acrylic leather paint (angelus). The paint is waterproof and permanent on any type of shoe. The subjects of my paintings differ from customer to customer, it all depends on the inspiration behind the custom, one example would be family portraits which are very personal to people and another would be the Adidas Superstars I did in collaboration with Adidas in London. This shoe was star studded with UK and US-based stars, the inspiration came from the name essentially with Kareem Abdul Jabbar on them, he was the first athlete to wear them in the NBA (US National Basketball Association).

JM: Tell us, do clients request what they want or you come up with your creations?

LM: Some clients are very precise with what they want and I’m perfectly fine doing what they want.
However, I do suggest ways to improve the custom in ways that the client might not be seeing at the time.

I always find that to be helpful and it’s always fun to collaborate with them and create something better. 

JM: What is the reception like for your work?

LM: I always get good feedback when it comes to my work, it’s something that I appreciate so much. I use that as fuel to keep me going. 

JM: You have done customised stuff for DJ Fantan of ChillSpot Records. Which other celebrities you have worked for?

LM: So the custom trainers are one part of what I do, I’ve done works for Enzo Ishall, EXQ, Fantan, Naak Musiq, Anthony Joshua, Michael Dapaah, Sneakbo, Krept, Coach K, Stormzy, Aitch, Headie One, Tion Wayne, Fredo, Demarai Gray and a few more UK-based artists and football players.

JM: Tell us your background as a fine artist.

LM: I started off with the basics back in 2002 at Sir John Kennedy Primary school in Kadoma.
I was intrigued by the different shade of pencils, I remember being in grade three, winning local art competitions in Kadoma.

I am a fine artist, mainly focused on aesthetics and detail in my paintings.
My style is still growing, so maybe I’ll leave this to the critics, maybe one day I’ll be able to define the art style. For now I’m just focused on working and expanding my skills.

JM: How long have you been in the UK and where exactly are you based?

LM: I have been in the UK for over 10 years now and I am based in London.

JM: How big is your clientele?

LM: It’s ever growing, to be honest. I am constantly getting jobs in the UK and internationally.

JM: Do you do stuff for people who are outside the UK?

LM: Yes I do, I have shipped paintings and shoes all around the world. I go by the name LavishTooNice on all my social media accounts.

JM: So do you supply sneakers or clients bring their own shoes to be customised?

LM: I supply the trainers if they are easily attainable, like Air Forces and Superstars. High-end shoes can be sent. 

JM: How can people get in touch with you?

LM: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter @lavishtoonice or via email [email protected]

JM: Are there plans to bring the business home?

LM: Absolutely, I would love to open a workshop and a shop. So I can pass on the skills I have and also have an outlet to sell my art.

I would like people to know that there is more to what I do, I hope that they will go and check my social media (Instagram) to get an idea of what I do.

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