All eyes are on the recent collaboration of 1800 Tequila X PUMA X Sam Rodriguez Sneaker that continues the heritage of the PUMA Clyde sneaker by the iconic sports brand. We chatted with artist, Sam Rodriguez about being approached for this project and how he blended his graffiti style along with Mayan and Aztec aesthetic to put his twist on this shoe.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about your background as we know you're a self-taught graphic artist.
SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ: My name is Samuel Rodriguez and I am an artist based out of San José, California. My work has shown in public spaces, museums, companies, galleries, the internet, and editorial media. For a number of years, I was self-taught through graffiti, until I later decided to expand my studies through the pursuit of a Bachelor in Fine Arts at California
College of the Arts. I have since blended what I absorbed in both experiences to create my style and figure out the next steps in my career
AM: How have Mayan and Aztec art influences been important to the designs that were incorporated into your sneaker?
SR: The Mayan and Aztec language are indigenous to Mexico so I thought it would be a good starting place. However, I also did not want to simply repeat what they did as it would have been out of context to this time period and project. Using this influence as a starting point, I thought about how they were communicating messages back then and asked myself how that could look through my perspective today. That’s why you see modern typography, graffiti,
and hip-hop style headwear weaving throughout the illustration. What I like about this project is that it pairs together indigenous, home-grown ingredients with contemporary ones.
AM: Were you a fan of the Clyde sneaker prior to you working with PUMA?
SR: Yes, very much so, this sneaker was everything to me during my formative years. I got my first pair at age 12, the same year when I started writing graffiti. A lot of people that I looked up to would sport these. I would see Lowriders, Breakdancers, Cholos, and other Graffiti guys wearing them. Although these sneakers first became popular because of NY hip-hop, here at home we mixed them with our local flavors. For example, I would sport them with creased
jeans, Ben Davis zip ups, Derby Jacket and a flipped up Cap. There were all sorts of West Coast variations, I remember some people wearing them with Cascade shirts, hairnets and all kinds of
local styles. It’s a shoe that reminds me of good times when I was introduced to the streets, but more importantly when I began my lifelong passion in art.
AM: How did the 1800 Tequila X PUMA X Sam Rodriguez collab/partnership come about?
SR: I was initially approached by Hypebeast. I was surprised and excited when they shared the details of the project. Designing a Puma Clyde was definitely an item on the bucket list.
AM: Sneakers are definitely important in our wardrobe, but what statement besides style do you feel that your work creates in terms of creating social/historical/cultural conversations?
SR: Style is something that a person grows into. It is your personal voice, but then you ask yourself, so what? From this comes the content of the work. I use my style and life experience
to speak on social/historical/cultural conversations. Art is more interesting when it is relevant
and responds to the current time period. Furthermore, it serves as a mark in history.