FS Portraits: Sanaya Irani's Undying Love for Art & Sneakers
From casually competing in inter-collegiate art fests to becoming a professional sneaker customizer, Sanaya has come a long way. Her transition to being one of the best in the game has been quite fascinating. We caught up with Sanaya to talk about sneakers and customizations.
Q.1) How did your journey as a sneaker customizer start?
It all started a few years ago when I used to actively take part in various fine art events at college fests around Mumbai. Surprisingly, I ended up winning a few of the sneaker and T-shirt painting events and that sparked my interest in customization as a profession. After hours of research and experimenting with my sneakers, I slowly started to build my client base.
Q.2) Some of the barriers/problems you face as a sneaker customizer in India?
Initially, a shortage of paints was an issue. There were no suppliers who would sell ‘Angelus’ paint ( The best for customizing sneakers ). However, now we have a supplier in India. Lastly, I believe there’s a small number of people who see the value of art and the value of customized sneakers. Some people don’t appreciate the effort and hard work that goes into customizing. They simply call it worthless or overpriced. That used to affect me but then I realized, that isn’t my target audience.
Q.3) Out of all the custom pieces you’ve made, which one is your favorite?
Some of my favorites are the Iron man themed custom sneakers and the pair with drake’s portraits with a meme reference. They all stem from the ideas of my clients but it is fun to work around those ideas and create something unique and beautiful.
Q.4) What has been your most interesting project?
I think it’s the current project that I am working on right now. It is a 3-part project for one client, where I’m customizing a pair of sneakers along with a hoodie and crewneck. It’s quite interesting since I’m working on 3 different materials, with each of them having a different concept. You can check out my Instagram for the reveal soon!
Q.5) Any pair you’d like to get your hands on to customize? (Other than Af1)
I would love to get my hands on Air Jordan 1 ‘Neutral grey’. I think that pair would be the perfect canvas to create my art on.
Q.6) How long does it take to finish one custom pair?
The ideal time for me to finish customizing a pair is 2-3 weeks. That time frame includes the time taken for the pair to arrive. ( That takes 4-10 days depending upon where you order it from.)
Q.7) How would you describe your art?
I’m not sure if I can properly describe it as I don’t restrict myself to a particular art style. I also don’t refrain from learning and exploring new things. I want to expand on what I know and widen my horizon as an artist. A boatload of people calls my art colorful and different which is nice to hear.
Q.8) What are your thoughts on the present scenario of sneaker and streetwear culture in India?
I think it’s cool and fascinating. Although, I’m not the person who would pay astronomical prices for hyped pairs and slick fits. I enjoy watching the culture grow and bloom from the sidelines as it takes over India.
Q.9) Who is your favorite sneaker customizer?
@Melsmake, @Naz_shoes_customizer, @Chaitanya_dixit are amazing sneaker customizers. They’re all nice people and great artists. If we talk about customizers overseas then @artbycian, @camcreatez, and @justwincustoms are part of the few I like.
Q.10) Do you think people will take up sneaker customizing as a full-time career in the future since the culture is expanding in India rapidly.
It’s hard to predict anything. I haven’t taken it full time even though I’m booked out most of the time. I feel it’s safe to have a plan B. However, if you are a really good artist and have proper knowledge of the market then you could be booked out for months. There’s no harm in giving it a shot. It is a well-paid job if you target the correct audience.
Q.11) What are some of your favorite sneakers silhouette and streetwear brands?
Air force 1 for sure. I do wish to get my hands on Air Jordan 1 ‘Neutral grey’ in the future. Astonishingly, I don’t have any favorite streetwear brand. I am more into athleisure and thrifting. Oversized tees are my recent obsession. Overall, I like to keep it minimal.
Q.12) Do you have any dream projects?
Customizing a pair of sneakers for Billie Eilish is the dream project. I know it sounds unreal but manifesting it actively!
Q.13) Anything you’re looking forward to working on shortly?
I would certainly like to collaborate with bigger fashion brands and artists shortly. I have a new collaboration coming soon with a few popular brands. I’m not going to reveal the details but stay tuned.
Q.14) If you could collaborate with a sneaker brand, which one would it be?
I don’t have to think twice about this one, it’s Nike. That would be a dream come true.
Check out Sanaya's Instagram here.