Interviewed by Prescott & Mackay
A couple of weeks ago, we went with Aki Choklat to Finnovations, a retrospective exhibition showcasing works from two of Finland's leading footwear designers: Aki himself and Julia Lundsten.
It was a very interesting evening and we got the chance to have a chat with Liza Snook, founder of the Virtual Shoe Museum and we couldn’t help but ask her a few questions about her unique project.
What is your professional background?
Liza Snook: I studied Graphic Design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (NL). I'm a graphic designer by profession and worked for graphic and industrial design studios in the Netherlands for about 25 years. Ten years ago I started the Virtual Shoe Museum project next to my graphic work and two years ago I decided to stop my graphic work and go for the shoes a hundred percent.
Since when do you consider yourself a shoe lover?
Since I can walk. My mother used to wear beautiful, high-heeled Italian shoes and I always played with her shoes.
How did you come up with the idea of creating The Virtual Shoe Museum?
My partner Taco Zwaanswijk is a multimedia designer. Ten years ago the first online collections started. Due to my graphic background and fanatic collecting I gathered a big collection of shoe images in different forms: postcards, articles, advertisements, books etc. Taco created the website and I started to call the few shoe designers I knew for permission to add their shoes to our website.
How does the Virtual Shoe Museum works? Which criteria do you use to commission work and keep it on the shoe trend?
I search for shoes everywhere and I get in shoes from all over the world sent by the designers themselves, shoe lovers and artists.
Thanks to curating shoe exhibitions with various museum curators in different countries they also come up with new designers. I have a lot of friends who bring me crazy shoe items, and some of them teach shoe design and connect me to their talented students.
What makes the Virtual Shoe Museum so special and unique in the world?
I think the mix of design and art. To me these two perspectives in shoes work very well.
In the Virtual Shoe Museum everything I like to do comes together: my design background, my passion for art and shoes, meeting new people and connecting them, sharing this information via the website and creating publications or exhibitions.
We meet at FINNOVATIONS, an Independent Footwear Design Exhibition organised by the Finish Embassy around the work of Aki Choklat and Julia Lundsten. What were the highlights of the day?
Finding some great shoe designs by Aki and Julia and meeting up with old and new shoe design friends.
What do you think is coming up in terms of shoe trends?
For the selection of the shoes for the Virtual Shoe Museum I don't follow shoe trends. I just weigh if a new shoe matches and adds something to the online collection or not.
Looking back to when you founded the Virtual Shoe Museum, did you expect it to become as it is today?
Absolutely not. When I started this project in my spare hours ten years ago I never thought that my passion for shoes would turn into my daily life work. I never expected it would bring me so many international shoe projects and fantastic contacts with designers and artists. And certainly, not this number of opportunities to work together with great museums outside the Netherlands.
What are the challenges for the Virtual Shoe Museum in the future?
I will see where the shoes will bring me… I just want to continue finding and collecting shoes, create new exhibitions together with art professionals and inspiring shoe design students and shoe lovers.
I have lived and worked in California all of my life, and graduated from the University of CA East Bay Campus with a degree in Liberal Arts. I am largely a self taught and experiential artist. I am continually trying to master a complicated process involving resins, oils, acrylics, paper, photography, metals and natural objects that are contained within my art.
One way to describe what I’m trying to express in my paintings is empathy for the landscape. I grow deeply attached to familiar settings and have a hard time letting go of a beloved place. For example, every time I drive down Cedar Street to my studio, I feel a wave of affection for the empty gas station, the chunky fire department trials building, the humming Peet’s coffeshop, and the undiscovered biotech building where I always find a parking space.
Debbie has enjoyed sketching since she was a small child. From the beginning, it was animals and people that were her favorite subjects. After she took a first place in a county-wide school art contest, there was no turning back.
Maggie HurleyI seem to be most content with a paintbrush in my hand. I went to school at the Laguna College of Art and Design before moving to San Francisco and then on to Berkeley, which I now call home.
I like to draw or paint just about anything, from day dreams to a piece of fruit that looks too pretty to eat. I can’t seem to stick to one medium. Sometimes I like the ease of watercolor, or the texture of oil. Sometimes I like to get my fingers thick with clay.
Ann Marie Hodrick
Ann Marie finds inspiration in the colors and textures of nature. She cherishes old jewelry parts as much as she adores keeping an eye on what’s current in fashion. Those inspirations mix together in a style that expresses itself in many lights…from vintage to modern…organic to graphic. No matter which muse is speaking to her, the result is always stylish. Ann Marie has shared her love of jewelry as editor of the Fashion Jewelry site at BellaOnline.com.
Bernice Gross is known for her vividly-painted scenes of middle-class America in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Her spot-on eye for images that capture awkward, familiar, and intimate family moments has made her a national reputation as an inimitable painter.
Hi, my name is Nuch. My passion for form, simplicity, and salient details has grown in me since I was an architecture student. It’s been years since I was an architect, but these passions have never left me. The first time I made a necklace as a gift for my aunt, unexpectedly, these dormant enthusiasms blossomed in me again. Since then for almost ten years, I’ve never stopped designing jewelry.
I am particularly interested in the exploration of color, composition, and the relationship of colors to each other, be it through paint, pastel or fabric. In an essentially abstract mode, I use layers of color to depict structure and surface that take much of their impetus from landscape, architecture or still life. Color establishes the reference. The atmosphere and the colors of my environment always find their way into the piece. I often begin with a more traditional painting or drawing of landscape or architecture, and then "deconstruct" it, sometimes working from a pastel study completed en plein air. Many of my pieces are inspired from photos, drawings and other studies while traveling. My quilts allow me to explore color and composition in fabrics and other materials. Recently I have been working on the concept of pairs of paintings and quilts that work together.
One-Day Sandal Making Course Course:
This class provides a well-rounded understanding of the sandal-making process with an emphasis on design and customisation to achieve a stylish mid-heel personalised pair of sandals. The style will be very contemporary and has been developed to get maximum comfort with an elegant touch, using the best leather and high-quality resourced materials. Students will walk away with a pair of sandals made with a very personal touch!
Dates: 27 July and 2 November http://www.prescottandmackay.co.uk/courses/shoemaking/one-day-sandal-class
Five-Day Intensive Shoemaking Course:
Students will be able to identify the main materials and components used for shoemaking and demonstrate an understanding of the whole shoemaking process with the aim of completing a pair of fully-closed shoes by the end of the session. The course cover: materials and design, pattern cutting, closing and making the Shoe.This ultimate masterclass provides an exceptional opportunity for creative individuals to learn the essentials about shoe design and footwear production over a five-day period.
Dates: 21-25 July and 27-31 October http://www.prescottandmackay.co.uk/courses/shoemaking/ five-day-shoemaking-intensive-berkely-usa
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