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Local artist Van Monroe’s custom sneakers in demand everywhere from The Smithsonian to Spike Lee



The East Cleveland native left a profitable profession to pursue artwork full time. It is paid off in an enormous manner, and now he is coming full circle.

CLEVELAND — East Cleveland native Van Taylor Monroe wanted a life change. He was in a cushty profession path, nevertheless it simply wasn’t sufficient.

“After I made a decision I used to be going to depart, I went and informed my supervisor, the ground supervisor…he was the primary particular person to have a look at me and say, ‘wait a minute – you would make 2 hundred and fifty thousand {dollars} as an account govt’,” Monroe recollects. “However I mentioned, ‘I did not come right here to your approval, I simply got here to inform you the place I used to be, in case you seemed in my cubicle and also you did not see [me]’.”

After quitting his six-figure job, Monroe started to pursue his true ardour; artwork. 

“Hardly ever, or in any respect, did I see a black male artist, an expert, who would come into the school rooms, and even museums,” he mentioned. “So it was exhausting to see myself as that, nevertheless it was at all times in me.”

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So, he began to place his work on the market. However as he places it, nobody cared.

“I began to really feel like possibly I did make a mistake. Right here I had this nice schooling from Miami College, had this nice job, and now I’ll the grocery retailer with eight {dollars} in my pocket that is received to final the entire week.”

However little did Van know, a seemingly easy ardour undertaking was about to vary his trajectory.

In 2008, Monroe says he got here near being evicted. However every part modified when he had a imaginative and prescient – a shoe impressed by then-Senator Barack Obama. 

“That night time I noticed the Obama present. I wakened the subsequent morning and I painted that shoe. Put it on MySpace, type of simply left it, and I got here again and realized it went viral on the web, earlier than we even knew what viral was.”

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And identical to that, Van’s life switched. Interviews; recognition; and an entire slew of celebrities reaching out for customized orders. He made sneakers for everybody from P. Diddy to Fats Joe to Will.I.Am.

“After that The Smithsonian Museum contacted me,” Monroe recollects. They needed to place these Obama sneakers within the new Nationwide Museum of African-American Historical past.

With the Obama Shoe now within the Smithsonian, and President Obama reaching out for two private pairs, Van continued customized orders from that Administration, all the best way to VP elect Kamala Harris. 


However Van’s most private buyer simply occurs to be one of many biggest filmmakers of all time.

“Spike [Lee] has been the one that supported me essentially the most all through my profession.”

Monroe has additionally created his personal branding and promoting firm known as VTM Artistic, and as we speak, he’s additionally the Beachwood Center College artwork trainer.

“It is too typically that we depart communities and never replenish them as soon as we make it to a sure standing. To have this chance is without doubt one of the finest choices that I’ve ever made.”






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