For the new Spring 2021 ‘Wear More Art’ campaign, Foot Locker has teamed up with two young artists from the European scene: British tattoo artist Jade Chanel and Italian street artist Rediet Longo.The two creatives illustrated the campaign and created a series to encourage the Foot Locker community to wear the art they love with a selection of designs dedicated to men, women, and children.
For this occasion, RED held a workshop in collaboration with ‘Paint the Change’ where he worked side by side with several young people who shared their thoughts and creative vision with him.
The workshop resulted in the creation of a mural in Milan representing the unity of young citizens of different ethnic groups.
We interviewed him to find out more about his story, his art, and the whole project.
Your name is Rediet Longo, but those who follow your work know you as Red. Can you tell us how this stage name came about and what it means?
My name is Rediet Longo, aka Red. Reflecting on my passion for art, I decided to sum up everything, including my name, through colors. After my turbulent adolescence, I concluded that neither my Ethiopian nor my Italian heritage could fully represent who I am. I suffered constant racist incidents that made me reject my identity. This trauma led me to the creation of a transversal, more complete, and representative identity; I am RED, like the African ultisol clay I used to play with as a child.
Your studies have always been linked to the world of art, and while you were at art school you started graffiti around Milan. Were you inspired by any particular artists?
What are the experiences of that period in your life that have transformed you as an artist?
Graffiti has always been a great passion of mine, but I admit that it was meeting Zoow24 that changed my life forever. As well as being one of the most respected artists on the scene, Zoow introduced me to a whole new world where graffiti meets fashion.
I started customizing clothes with spray paint and found a new way of communicating.
Your work is very diverse, ranging from graffiti to painting to fashion. How do you manage to work with different media while remaining consistent and recognizable?
I often like to call myself an all-around artist for this very reason.
Graffiti, painting, fashion, and music are different forms of expression, but they are all part of the same core: art. With painting, I learned academic techniques. With graffiti, however, I created my character to show the world, which was an easier way to be among people and to be recognized by my tag.
If I add an upside-down R or 5 hairs from my logo, people often realize straight away that I drew it without me having to sign my name.
Tell us about your collaboration with Foot Locker. What inspired you to create the illustrations for the Spring 2021 “Wear More Art” campaign?
The “wear more art” campaign with Foot Locker has been one of my favorite collaborations so far.
I created illustrations for the launch of 3 sneakers: Puma, Converse, and Nike. I worked on graphics that were later applied to the campaign photos inspired by the lettering I do with street signs, using slogans that encourage people to embrace street art and make it their own.
On this occasion, you also created a mural in Milan and held a workshop in collaboration with “Paint the Change.” What was it like working alongside young creatives who would like to follow in your footsteps? What does the mural you created tell us?
The experience of the workshop in collaboration with “Paint the Change” was a magical moment. I interacted with second-generation Afro-descendants, sharing my journey with them and discussing issues that I saw myself in.
I also learned a lot from the people I had this experience with.
I am always running around, more intent on painting, and rarely do I dwell on current events that affect my roots.
I would like to thank the young people with whom I had this experience because they made me feel part of a very large community.
For the occasion, I wanted to perform my interpretation of Matisse’s dance. Unlike the original work, the characters have different skin colors. The harmony of the dance is the same, however. At the center is a world without continents: we are all human beings and now more than ever we must be united.
Your creativity is constantly evolving, is there any art form you have not yet expressed yourself with that you see in your future? What are your future projects?
My artistic path varies a lot. I always have new stimuli and a desire to experiment with new techniques, alongside the projects I am involved in now. I am training a lot on larger drawings, and I would like to bring my graffiti for commissions on real building facades.
The collection inspired by and dedicated to the world of street art is already available on www.footlocker.eu and in shops across Europe, while the line inspired by tattoos will be available in May.