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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.

East Cleveland native Van Taylor Monroe wanted a life change. He was in a snug profession path, but it surely simply wasn’t sufficient.

“After I made a decision I used to be going to depart, I went and advised my supervisor, the ground supervisor…he was the primary particular person to take a look at me and say, ‘wait a minute – you may make 2 hundred and fifty thousand {dollars} as an account government’,” Monroe recollects. “However I mentioned, ‘I did not come right here on your approval, I simply got here to let you know 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. 

“Not often, or in any respect, did I see a black male artist, knowledgeable, who would come into the lecture rooms, and even museums,” he mentioned. “So it was laborious to see myself as that, but it surely 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 bought to final the entire week.”

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

In 2008, Monroe says he got here near being evicted. However every little thing 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 awakened 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 a complete slew of celebrities reaching out for customized orders. He made footwear 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 footwear 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 probably the most all through my profession.”

Monroe has additionally created his personal branding and promoting firm referred to as VTM Artistic, and right now, he’s additionally the Beachwood Center Faculty artwork trainer.

“It is too usually that we go away 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 greatest selections that I’ve ever made.”






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