1800 Tequila, the 100% agave premium tequila, has partnered with Global Sports Brand PUMA and California-based artist Sam Rodriguez to launch a limited edition colorway of iconic PUMA Clyde sneaker. Earlier this month, they hosted a launch party to celebrate this collaboration in New York City. After the event, we spoke with Mr. Rodriguez to learn more about his latest collaboration, Graffiti Art and what we can look forward to in the future.
When did you first find your passion for Graffiti Art?
I first found my passion for Graffiti when I was 12. I used to see it everywhere and kept wondering who was doing it. It was an attractive curiosity of mine at that moment and I thought it looked so cool.
Who are some of your favorite Graffiti Artists?
Here in the San Jose and the surrounding Bay Area, I liked the work of King 157 of RTM, Dug, Twist THR, Zen, Teacher, Dream TDK and many more. From Los Angeles, I liked the work of Skil from UTI, and Tempt. In the global scene, I was of course inspired by the original Subway Artists of NYC and also much of the stuff that was coming out of Europe.
You have been a self-taught graffiti artist for over 10 years, how has that experience been?
Although I no longer consider myself a graffiti artist, that experience had a profound impact on me such as staying productive, being resourceful, and realizing you don’t need permission from society to be who you want to be.
Where do you pull your influence from?
I am inspired by my own cultural background to the extent that it is the primer or filter in which I process the world. I am Mexican-American, which means I have influences that range from both countries. However, being that we now live in a global society, I am influenced by several things happening in fashion, and culture right now throughout many parts of the world. So this means I have indigenous roots but also am interested in joining the larger conversations and exchanges that are happening today.
What artwork are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the artwork that influences or motivates others. I can’t say if whether or not people have had an emotional experience with my work in the way that music could cause, but if it does then I would be proud of that too.
How did the collaboration with Puma and 1800 Tequila come about?
I was initially approached by 1800 Tequila and Hypebeast. I was surprised and excited when they shared the details of the project. Designing a Puma Clyde was something I could only hope for.
What made you want to put art on sneakers?
When I was growing up, I used to see artwork on people’s Lowriders, clothes, sneakers, hats, and backpacks. I myself have decorated my own clothes in the past and other people’s as well. I even have done murals on parts of people’s cars. It was something that we all just did to represent ourselves, our friends, or our neighborhoods. I even used to work at an airbrush stand doing people’s jackets and shirts at a local amusement part.
What can we look forward to from Sam Rodriguez?
I hope to do more collaborations like this one that I have just completed with 1800 Tequila, and Puma. These types of projects are cool because they validate a lot of the work we started in the underground and bring it to a larger audience. One thing that I particularly liked about it was that I didn’t have to change my artistic voice and that my own values were embraced by others.