“I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams!” – Vincent Van Gogh
Through the richness of his life experiences and artistry, Van Taylor Monroe has devoted his existence to encouraging people throughout the world to pursue the dreams that are hidden within their hearts. Van’s own journey toward his dreams began to accelerate by bringing awareness to social causes through art painted on sneakers. Inspired by his family, his faith and his surroundings, Van’s most popular sneaker designs came from visions in dreams while he slept. From the passionate “Save Darfur” sneaker, to the popular “Barack Obama ’08″ shoe, Van has developed a unique way to motivate social and civic engagement to a visually stimulated generation, fueled by pop culture.
Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, by a family of non-traditional artists, Van’s creative spirit was nurtured at an early age, as he was encouraged to celebrate his self-expression through art. By the age of 2, Van began sketching “panes” which his mother later discovered were airplanes. Later, Van attended Miami University in Ohio as a graphic design major and quickly combined his business savvy with his creative talents. In 2003, he began revitalizing the scuffed and worn-out sneakers of his football teammates by adding fresh new colors and personalized hand-painted designs to them. While football suffered, what seemed only a hobby quickly grew into a passionate, artistic calling, sneaker art design.
Van has become a well-known talent in painting traditional canvas, murals, clothing, accessories and of course continuing to customize sneakers and footwear. In lectures and speaking engagements, Van teaches principles that illustrate how to discover your dreams, pursue your dreams and handle the adversity that you will face while on the path of living your dreams. This wisdom has proven to inspire many to realize that the path to following your dream begins within one’s own heart.
Additionally, Van teaches hands-on sneaker customization techniques to aspiring artists, sneaker enthusiasts and to those just interested in learning an exciting and fun new way to create personal shoe designs and revamp old footwear. Van recently traveled to Africa where he was commissioned to teach painting techniques to students at Académie des Beaux-Arts in Kinshasa, DR Congo.
Van’s artwork was nationally recognized and added to the Smithsonian Museum’s collection and also featured in the Manifest Hope Gallery. He has created artwork for President Barack Obama, Spike Lee, Will.I.Am, Kirk Franklin, Hill Harper, Queen Latifah, Nicki Minaj, Ray Romano, Jennifer Lopez, John Leguizamo, Joy Behar and countless other celebrities. Van worked with 20th Century Fox in promoting their summer blockbuster movie Wolverine with his sneaker designs. Van recently collaborated with Fox again to promote the final installment to their popular animated feature Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. Van’s adept leadership ability was celebrated by his community through his induction into Cleveland’s prestigious 40-40 club. Van is truly an inspirational leader for all generations.