Thursday, April 16, 2009
Interview with Mark Schwartz of High Heeled Art
"Champagne and High Heels"
High Heeled Art
I am in awe of the remarkable work of Mark Schwartz. A very talented shoe designer and artist, imagine how honored I was to find a comment from him stating how much he liked my blog, FA'SHOE'NISTA! When I visited his blog, High Heeled Art, vibrant bursts of color, in the form of beautiful shoes and boots mesmerized me. Painting after painting brilliantly captures the essence of every woman's favorite obsession—elegant, sultry stilettos.
Born in New York City, Mark shares his exquisite and eclectic paintings with clients from around the world. He has gleaned inspiration from the likes of Andy Warhol and Roger Vivier and I am so happy that he took time out of his busy schedule for this interview.
FA'SHOE'NISTA: Tell us about your professional background.
Mark: I started as an assistant designer to Roger Vivier whom I worked for and wound up being his creative director for about 5 years. From there I went on to design for a multitude of fashion houses and shoe companies for about a decade and then did my own line out of Italy under Mark Schwartz, and I had a store in Soho, New York City. I still design for a handful of clients in Europe and a few here in the states. I balance my shoe design with my artwork.
FA'SHOE'NISTA: You have designed shoes for many of the big names in fashion, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Balenciaga, just to name a few. What is that like?
Mark: Designing for some of the bigger houses can be very rewarding. It is a bit more of a collaborative effort which I find can be good for any designer. For me, design is a personal thing. I was taught by Vivier that your shoe designs had to have there own personality. If you strive for that, people will recognize your work!
FA'SHOE'NISTA: I read somewhere that you are Oprah's favorite shoe designer. Have you ever been on her show? What has that done for your exposure as a designer. Has it made much of a difference?
Mark: I was Oprah's favorite for a while. This was a good thing, she had asked me to do some custom shoes and boots for her 50th birthday. She has used my shoes on her show in some fashion shows and also took the time out to stop everything in the middle of her show to show off the shoes I designed for her. She has been very good to me in the past and I am very grateful for that.
High Heeled Art
FA'SHOE'NISTA: You have been designing for 20 plus years. When did you first discover that shoes were your passion?
Mark: I think that I discovered shoes were my passion through Vivier and Warhol. They both pushed me and believed in me. I was in my early twenties then, but yes that is where the fire was lit.
FA'SHOE'NISTA: I almost hate to say this, but I feel I have to ask. Of course, you know, "No Comment" is always an option for you. Has anyone compared you to that other shoe designer whose sketches are considered art in their own right? If so, has that affected you creatively in any way?
Mark: Ok, yes sometimes I am compared to the other shoe designer that makes wonderful artistic sketches as well. It has not affected my creativity in any way. I respect what he does and I think it is great. I try to give my work it's own direction and personality and I feel that set's us both apart. I do, however, have a lot of respect for Manolo Blahnik.
FA'SHOE'NISTA: I recently visited your site Shoes as Idea, and found even more beautiful paintings and sketches, as well as pictures of your work in contemporary interior settings. How is the artwork featured on this site different from what we see on High Heeled Art?
Mark: I recently changed all of my work over to the High Heeled Art site. It is where I feature my most recent work. Shoes as Idea is a bit of a different period for me. It was a good place and a lot came from that site, press etc., etc. I feel that with High Heeled Art I have found the balance of where I want to be with my artwork and where I want to take it over the next decade or so.
FA'SHOE'NISTA: Tell us about your process of creation from inception to finished product.
Mark: Well, a lot of my ideas come from shoes I have already designed in the past. I look for creative ways to approach them and present them, that has always been my idea! I never do a practice sketch or rough sketch, I prefer to just draw on watercolor paper and then create from there. I use a pencil and then usually just paint with my brush. I do have my own little methods when using colors and blending. I even mix watercolor with inks, etc.
Sometimes you get a wonderful reaction and the piece looks great. It is all instinct, just a way of life for me!
"Cherub with Red Pump"
High Heeled Art
FA'SHOE'NISTA: It's kind of that way for me too, when I create. I rarely do preliminaries. You were mentored by such artistic giants as Andy Warhol and Roger Vivier, for whom you worked as an assistant designer and creative director. What or who else has inspired you over the years and how do you remain fresh and vital as an artist?
Mark: I was very lucky to have Vivier and Warhol in my corner. I have other influences as well, I love Jackson Pollock as a painter, Louboutin as a shoe designer, Blahnik. How does one remain fresh? By becoming stale! What I mean by that is, we all go through creative high's and low's, no one can avoid that, trust me on that! I think for me it's just something that is born inside of you, it just comes out stronger at different times in your life.
FA'SHOE'NISTA: Who are your clients: for your designs? For your paintings? Do they overlap?
Mark: My clients for my paintings vary, they are collected mostly buy people that just love and appreciate shoes in an artistic mode. My works are in some shops, shoe boutiques, lot's of collectors homes, celebs. I have a nice following there as well, very nice following there. I love the fact that they are collected by both men and women as well, even in a bunch of medical offices and hospitals! Shoes must bring joy!
FA'SHOE'NISTA: What is your favorite place on planet earth?
Mark: My favorite place on the planet earth is in my heart!
High Heeled Art
FA'SHOE'NISTA: Wow! What a great answer. How does your personal life compare to your work life. Do the two intertwine or do you try to keep them separate?
Mark: My personal life works with my work life. I have a great 8 year old son who loves to watch me paint or design shoes. He actually sometimes will take some of my shoe designs to school for show and tell!
FA'SHOE'NISTA: That's got to make you feel great. What is a typical day like for you?
Mark: A typical day I always do a painting!! I post it on the site and work on shoe designs for my clients, then I do another painting!!
FA'SHOE'NISTA: After so many years of success, where will the next phase of your career take you?
Mark: I want to do more with the shoe paintings and I will. I want to see them in hotel's and more public places. I am working on that now. I will always look for new ways to develop my artwork. I really get a special charge when someone likes my work or purchases it, that never goes away!
FA'SHOE'NISTA: What type of advice would you give to aspiring business owners, fashion or otherwise?
Mark: Well, I know that everyone has heard this before, but if you don't believe in yourself you will never make it! It really is the best advise out there!!
I totally agree. Thank you so much, Mark, for your time and patience. Your work is simply magnificent and my readers and I look forward to seeing more of your creative genius.
"My Other Plate"
High Heeled Art
For more information on Mark Schwartz's beautiful work, visit High Heeled Art
High Heeled Art