The Classic Slip on and Old Skool trainers transcend from skate culture and have unravelled into various avenues. The “skate shoe exclusive” label has evolved, and they now sit within all realms of culture. The Black Gold Star Embroidery exclusive blends the traditional silhouette with embroidery adding an element of playfulness and an opportunity to spice up your current Vans rotation.

Pushing the exclusive further into the creative space, artist and illustrator, Melissa Kitty Jaram, created a piece inspired by the embroidered details on the range. Jaram painted the piece live in her studio and we captured the full artistic process.

We then caught up with @melissakittyj on this art piece, her creative process and personal style.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how this collaboration came about?

Hi, my name is Melissa Kitty Jarram. I’m an illustrator and artist living in South East London, which is how this collaboration came about! I adore the creative community in this city, and the diversity it offers.

When did you begin illustrating and painting? What do you like about it?

I moved to London from Nottingham to study illustration in 2009, but really, I had been painting/drawing/scribbling since I was a kid. It was the best way I could find to express myself as writing certainly is not a forté.

For this project, you painted an art piece inspired by the embroidery from the Vans collection. Can you tell us a little bit about what you made and the process?

The embroidery for this particular piece was heavily nostalgic of my school diary doodles. I even have a red heart tattoo on my wrist because I used to sit in class and for some reason that would be the first thing I would draw. The painting I created for this though was inspired by an experience I had swimming in the sea on a secret beach at night, with only the stars and moon allowing me to see my date. It was so beautiful and so was he, except despite his company I still felt alone because it was one of those holiday romances where you know you’ll never see them again, but I was okay with that. It took a long time and a lot of work for me to be okay with the idea of being alone, but this is why I could enjoy that moment.

Where does the different imagery and messages in your work originate from?

I like to look at a lot of folk-art, religious symbols and iconography, including those of witchcraft and alchemy. My dissertation at university was about semiotics, so I like to slip some of this into my work sometimes. I’m also obsessed with the female form and how we see ourselves and the ideals of beauty etc. I am hoping to subvert the male gaze with the work I make, whilst injecting as much raw emotion and little secret codes into it as possible.

Does your work have a direct impact on your personal style?

Funnily enough I think my work and my personal style are extremely different. I think the pieces that the designers I’ve worked with have made are truly beautiful, except my personal style icon is Phoebe or Prue from Charmed, which couldn’t be more different from my work and really has nothing to do with it, except maybe a love of sisterhood.

Can you describe your go to look when styling this collection?

Styling this collection was easy because my favourite colour combination is red and black. I feel most comfortable in these colours, could be down to the fact I’m a Mars girl through and through.

Is there something happening right now in creative culture that you’re most excited about?

I’m always excited about creative culture, especially what’s going on in fashion and what my friends are doing in it. I adore to see the intersection between art and VR at the moment, and always very eager to see what gifts GUT Magazine presents us with in each new issue.

What does 2022 look like for you?

2022 looks like a lockdown free year! (HOPEFULLY)… The new collection with Bethany Williams is on its way at the end of Feb and has been my favourite one yet, 2022 will be marked by this collection for sure. I’m hoping to embrace being 31, whilst still feeling 21.

Shop the Vans Exclusive range here 💫❤️