Meet the artist designing sneakers for Billie Eilish, Floyd Mayweather and Travis Scott

This article was originally featured in ASBO MAGAZINE; Issue 11

Based in West London, flourishing artist Daniel Cordas’ work has been seen on different mediums all over the world. From sneakers to jackets to tequila bottles, Daniel’s instantly recognisable style has landed him a substantial following on social media and countless collabs with high-end brands and celebrities. ‘I basically started collecting sneakers when I was younger, and I was always into art anyway. The first pair was a pair that I painted for myself and just put a picture up on Instagram back in 2013. And then it just grew from there. 1 or 2 years later I managed to go full time.’

With a beaming smile, Daniel made his transition from sneaker collector to full time artist appear seamless. However, he went on to explain that since starting his creative career at a mere 13-years-old, Daniel has found many obstacles in his journey to success. ‘It’s definitely not easy’, he laughs. ‘I’m just obsessed with it. Sneakers and art are my two biggest passions. So, I feel lucky everyday that I’ve been able to become a full-time artist. I think you’ve got to be obsessed with it, and got to put in a lot of work’.

‘There’s a lot of very talented artists that can’t do it full time. Because you have to commercialise it to a certain degree. That’s the hard thing to do. Everybody has to pay their bills, so you have to be able to afford yourself financial freedom whilst doing what you love. Which means you can do it more and more. I’ve been really lucky. I was doing a lot of canvas work before, which is less of a niche. People liked it but no one would want to buy it in particular. But wearable pieces of clothing – shoes, jackets – made me busy ever since. I’ve been able to build my brand and have actually been able to go back to canvas work. It’s a lot to do with branding and being lucky with the following you get’.

It’s clear that youth culture holds a special place in Daniel’s heart. But his work takes from such a long list of inspirations, ‘It’s just anything cool that inspires me. I do a lot of Japanese inspired artworks, iconic figures. If I see a person or a photo or a thing that I think is cool, I mean it’s completely subjective, I’ll not look at it for too long or research too much so I can do it in my own style’.

Daniel’s latest big collaboration has been with Kendall Jenner’s tequila brand 1800. The brand has launched themselves as a platform to not only bring the world quality tequila, but also give up and coming artists a space to showcase their unique work. ‘I’ve loved it obviously’, Daniel laughed. ‘They’re a very streetwear and art focused brand, and I think that whilst they’ve tried to get out what they wanted from the project, they’ve given me loads of freedom. I think that’s the only way that things work. Because when things are too confined, especially when you’re trying to do things that are reproduced, it just throws it completely off. As you can see on the bottle it has my signature floral which is the first thing I ever painted and then we tied in Mexican folk art. So yeah, I loved it. Having the bottle is like a life bucket list tick’.

Moving from the medium of shoes to bottles is not something most artists find themselves doing. And for this reason, creatives like Daniel often get referred to as a customiser. But Daniel explained to us that he is trying to avoid this label. ‘Art is not defined by the canvas. Because at the start I fell into the subcategory of ‘customiser’ I created my tag line ‘art not custom’. It means it doesn’t matter if I paint on canvas or shoes or a bottle or t-shirts, it’s just art’.

Daniel’s work shot to fame after a number of celebrities became enamored by his work. The likes of Stormzy, Floyd Mayweather and Billie Eilish have been spotted wearing the artist’s work on various pieces of clothing. ‘I’ve been really lucky with collaborations. I’m still in Harrods at the moment and that was a huge one. It came at the very start of my career so it was a really high benchmark. So, then you find yourself saying no to a lot of things to make sure you’re always on brand. So doing stuff like 1800, Red Bull – that was a good one – Jimmy Choo, Universal. Everyone loves the fact that Billie Eilish wore my work on Ellen. I’ve started to get into F1, like everyone else is now, and I did one for Charles Leclerc the Ferrari driver. That’s one of my favourites’.

After discussing his favourite collaborations, it’s only natural that the next question delves into Daniel’s favourite sneaker piece. ‘One favourite is a pair of Off-White Jordan 1s with a light blue colourway with clouds on. When I was looking for the base shoe, one came up that was signed by Virgil (Abloh). I was trying to convince my client that this would not come up very often. I have a photo on Instagram of holding them up to the sky and the clouds. At the time I loved them but with the unfortunate passing of Virgil with his signature and the clouds it was quite ominous’.

As the creative world continues to grow its space within social media, it’s important that young and aspiring artists have role models such as Daniel to look up to. Starting from a love of art and a passion for sneakers, Daniel has been able to grow his brand to where it is today. And he explained that it was seeing other artists that inspired him to start out in the first place. ‘People were always doing this kind of thing. Sharpie-ing on Timbaland’s in New York 40 years ago, and jackets were always common. But the rise of social media has given artists more of a platform. But with that it’s also going to become a lot harder for artists because there’s going to be more and more people doing the same sort of thing. When I started it was a lot more of a niche which was a blessing. You have to have a lot of leaps of faith to go full time as an artist and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. A more creative world is definitely good’.

Words: Sophie Wyatt

Photography: Nigel Davies