Why Viscata (The Story Behind The Dreams)?

Why Viscata (The Story Behind The Dreams)?

ARTIST BIOGRAPHY

“Don’t be a sheep, but if you absolutely insist, be a black one”
JJ Walker

An Interview With The Artist

We sat down with JJ Walker to hear him tell the story behind the shoes in his own words - and while we were at it, we had a chat to find out more about his inspiration for the Mediterranean Dreams project and what exactly it is that makes him tick.

 

Tell us about your art and your connection to Barcelona?

My Viscata designs express the creative energy of Barcelona, infused with the essence of the Mediterranean. I’m inspired by this region's beauty, culture, and traditions. I don’t think of these new espadrille creations as just pieces of art; for me, they are love letters to a place that has become my second home. My designs are a visual celebration of the Mediterranean lifestyle, and a reminder that sometimes, the heart finds its true home in the most unexpected of places.

 

Capsule collection and collaboration with an artist. Painting featuring mediterranean dreams. Espadrilles handcrafted in Spain.
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You’ve designed some stunning artwork for these shoes. Why don’t you start off by telling us the story behind The Dreamer?

Okay, that’s a pretty good place to start. When I began to think about this design for the Mediterranean Dreams collection,  I knew I wanted to bring you into her sensual world, as she floats effortlessly in the warm waters of the Mediterranean, caught between the blazing sun and the warm sea. I think this image encapsulates a powerful fusion of sensuality and passion. “The Dreamer” takes you beyond traditional espadrilles and becomes a unique canvas for your wanderlust, a tribute to the artistry of the Mediterranean and a gentle reminder of the joy and peace found in sweet dreams, calm seas and carefree summers. In these shoes, I’ve depicted a tranquil woman with closed eyes, reminiscent of a Miro painting. Her elegant silhouette embodies the enchanting allure of Mediterranean Dreams. She contemplates breezy Mediterranean summers, where her flowing hair seamlessly transforms into the sea's rhythmic waves. On the distant horizon, a sailboat glides gracefully by, hinting at a life intertwined with the azure waters and the gentle caress of sea breezes.

 

Painted espadrille canvas flats from the capsule collection the dreamer. Collaboration with an artist. Handcrafted in Spain.
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And how about The Diver?

With this design, I wanted you to embrace her emotion as she plunges deep beneath the waves in search of an underwater world. Hold your breath with her as she experiences the exhilaration of the waves, the warmth of the water and the thrill of the dive. “The Diver” is a breathtaking ode to Mediterranean summer, a canvas of serene wonder, where the passionate interplay of warm sunshine and the coolness of the sea paints an unforgettable picture. As every graceful kick propels her, she becomes a fearless explorer, embodying the very spirit of the Mediterranean. Her longing to plunge into the sea mirrors the brilliant sun dancing on the water's surface. It's a passionate convergence where her heart, pulsating with the allure of the depths, meets the Mediterranean's radiant summer, awakening in a symphony of glistening reflections.

 

 

Painted espadrille lace-up wedges from the capsule collection the diver. Collaboration with an artist. Handcrafted in Spain.

 

And finally, tell us about The Port?

This one’s a bit different. The Port encourages you to spend some time at Barcelona’s famous Port, where much of the America’s Cup action will be taking place this summer. It’s a place that connects the unique architectural grids and avenues of Gaudi’s Eixample district to the rest of the world, with its stunning yachts and outdoor restaurants serving food fresh from the sea. Vibrant and full of Mediterranean charm, wander these streets and become part of one of the world’s most exciting cities. 

The more masculine colors of the city dominate in these shoes that showcase the extraordinary grid system of Barcelona’s historic Eixample district. The distinctive grid pattern is designed to create communities in the urban sprawl and they are an intrinsic part of the character of this city.  And the Eixample leads you to the port and the ocean and then to the world beyond. Celebrating a more masculine style, they also feature the coordinates of Barcelona’s Port Olympic, which is where many of the America’s Cup teams will be setting up base.  It’s a vibrant part of town filled with music, laughter, street performers - and, of course, the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. 

We’d like you to join us on a journey through Barcelona, taking you through the planned elegance of the Eixample, along the twisted streets of the Gothic Quarter and then on to the sea front, the heart and soul of Barcelona, where you will witness the fastest high tech yachts in the world competing for sailing’s biggest prize.


 

 

Painted espadrille canvas flats from the capsule collection the port. Collaboration with an artist. Handcrafted in Spain.
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What was it about the Mediterranean that first made you fall in love with it?

It was the lifestyle that truly captured my heart. The leisurely pace of life, the warmth of the locals, and the joy of sharing a meal with family and friends left an indelible mark on my artistic sensibilities. And I was inevitably drawn in by the vibrant shades and colors of the Mediterranean skies that light up our lives every day.

 

How did this play into your partnership with Viscata?

It was a delight to work on the Mediterranean Dreams project. These shoes are the result of a cultural collaboration celebrating the spirit of the Mediterranean and its unique way of life. The Mediterranean culture embodies a profound appreciation for the simple pleasures in life and a deep respect for tradition. The Mediterranean way of life is a celebration of the senses, a connection to the land and sea. In the Mediterranean, art isn't confined to galleries; it's an integral part of everyday life. It's a celebration of beauty, a means of storytelling, and a reflection of the region's deep cultural and historical roots. Art is both a mirror to the Mediterranean soul and a bridge to the world, inviting all to experience its vibrant, artistic way of life. These shoes are part of Viscata’s DNA. We share their roots, their history and their Barcelona style.




 

 

Painted espadrille lace-up wedges from the capsule collection the dreamer. Collaboration with an artist. Handcrafted in Spain.
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Tell us about the synergies between your art and our brand?

By blending the artistry of the Mediterranean with a commitment to quality, comfort, and style, Viscata creates comfortable espadrilles that resonate with the essence of Mediterranean living. Viscata's espadrilles connect the artistry, culture, and lifestyle of the Mediterranean. Our customers not only experience the comfort and style of the Mediterranean but also carry with them the art and culture that lies at its heart, making every step a journey into the soul of this special part of the world. Also, Viscata's handmade espadrilles, crafted using time-honored techniques and artisanal craftsmanship are a reflection of the Mediterranean's deep respect for tradition and artistry. Espadrilles are known for their comfort and versatility, making them an ideal choice for embracing the Mediterranean way of life and our Mediterranean Dreams collection is an expression of that. They effortlessly blend with the relaxed, outdoor-oriented lifestyle of the Mediterranean.

What appealed to you most about this project?

Working on these exclusive, unique, one-of-a-kind handmade espadrilles was a dream come true. Viscata gave me a clear brief and I was inspired by the colors and designs of Barcelona offering a surreal insight into the things that make Barcelona the iconic city that it has become. My brief: soak up all the things that make this great city so special; capture that unique spirit in three beautiful espadrille designs that can be handmade in Spain; express the cultural, artistic and gastronomic melting pot that make this city the cultural capital of the Mediterranean. It was a pleasure to design this strictly Limited Edition range of one-off espadrilles in celebration of Barcelona as host city of this year’s America’s Cup, and of course, every pair bears my own unique embroidered monogram and is created exclusively for you.

 

Painted espadrille lace-up wedges and espadrille flats from the capsule collections. Collaboration with an artist. Handcrafted in Spain.

 

What other art projects are you working on right now and how can we find out more about your work?

Mediterranean Dreams was a fantastic chance to express my Mediterranean love affair on canvas (albeit the canvas of an espadrille). But besides that, my passion is design and sculpture. I have a tendency to favor large scale sculptural works. All my artwork is available directly from my website, jwalker.studio.net and it’s shown throughout the year in galleries and shows across Europe. I’ve been working with STUDIO 46 in Barcelona and the Bluewave Alliance on an exciting project to buld awareness of the fragile beauty and health of the Mediterranean and why it is so vital that we protect it and restore it to the rich levels of life, biodiversity and health it enjoyed 100 years ago, before human activity and climate change degraded its waters and shores. 

Recently, I’ve held a show at the prestigious Gagliardi Gallery in the world famous King’s Road in London. I also regularly hold “one-man-shows” and my work has most recently been exhibited by Artevista gallery in Barcelona.  I’m also working on a number of other projects including some large figurative pieces including “inhale” and “destination” and I’m part of an exclusive group of STUDIO 46 artists exhibiting at the “BLAME ME - Art that Goes Big” event in the heart of Barcelona’s Gothic quarter and am working on some large scale figurative pieces including “Inhale” and “Destination”. But my art doesn’t belong in a gallery. It belongs in someone’s home, where it can touch, diffuse and change people directly. It’s always good to see the world from a different angle.

What’s your current favorite piece of art in your collection and why?

My current favorite is a figurative sculpture called El Colleccionista, which is a complex figurative work that has a deep resonance with me because it expresses elements of the endless reservoir of information to play with as we try to make sense of the human condition.

 

figurative sculpture by the artist. Capsule collection and collaboration with artist. Espadrilles handmade in Spain.

 

Final thoughts?

It’s been a comfortable and rewarding artistic collaboration working with the VISCATA team. And it’s been particularly rewarding to get designs out onto the street, rather than leave them hanging in the  ‘gallery’. And for me, Viscata’s commitment to sustainability was an important consideration for me. In my previous life, I ‘ve been a sustainability lead and corporate advocate, so it’s something I feel strongly about. In fact, one of my collaborative projects, later this year with STUDIO 46 and the Bluewave Alliance builds on that trend as we look to drawn attention to the importance of maintaining and improving the health of the Mediterranean Sea and coastline. It’s important that I’m involved in art projects and initiatives that look to make a positive difference and encourage people to take their head out of the sand and look with focus when it comes to the health of our planet and therefore, ultimately our own wellbeing.  

 

 

Capsule collaboration with an artist. Featuring mediterranean dreams on espadrilles. Handmade in Spain.
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About the artist

JJ Walker is an English artist, product and graphic designer with a lifelong passion for art that has never waivered. As an 11 year old he would thumb through the Athena poster racks in his favorite record stores looking for the latest visionary landscapes from Rodney Mathews or inspired by the wildly erotic and perfectly executed airbrush images of Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama (1947 – ). Although Walker’s work has taken a different path to his early influences, there’s still something of that adolescent fascination with the potent mix of artist as craftsman and generator of visual—previously unrealized ideas that run through his work today. For Walker the close marriage of well conceived and crafted aesthetics and his desire to share a social, political, consumer or cultural idea with an audience is important in order to create what he terms ‘the perfect bloom’ in art. A visceral/mental event where a viewer effectively experiences the full gamut of stimulation, aesthetically, emotionally and intellectually—akin to falling in love with the idea and its presentation.

Finding traction as an artist in his fifties and working more vigorously than ever in multiple media he explores diverse avenues related to the human condition and constantly questions how contemporary art is defined and evaluated in our media and information saturated era. He examines and utilises classic art forms, using what (at times) could be termed ‘conventional’ aesthetics, but with an added twist. The human form is often present, but always playfully adapted, mutated (sometimes mutilated) and explored to tell a particular story about the dark, contradictory, humorous and often bizarre nature of people—be it at individual or herd mentality level. The double entendre and mimetic deceptions are also scattered throughout his approach. Born from his background work in advertising and graphic design that often resorts to juxtaposition and unexpected combinations of ideas, objects and elements to jolt the world of the saturated, tired consumer into a new inviting, fresh and engaging space.

Walker is an artist unafraid to extend the boundaries of proportion and balance. Highly engaged, and at play with the topic of aesthetics, stating that while “nature offers a common, universally understood aesthetic template, that many artists use to some extent or another”, the forced, nurtured, learned and manufactured aesthetics that commercialism coats society.

 

 

Capsule collaboration with an artist. Featuring mediterranean dreams on espadrilles. Handmade in Spain.


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