Guelph artist named winner for ‘shameless’ shoe design


Guelph artist expresses what pride means to him through art.

Romario Smith entered a sneaker art contest, where he was given 48 hours to design a “pride”-themed shoe.

“It was actually a friend of mine in my art program in college who said ‘hey, this is for pride, you’re gay, you like shoes, you work in a shoe store, you should do this,'” Smith said. .

The competition was organized by art agency Martk’d and eBay.

Organizers said 250 artists from across Canada entered the contest. The submissions were reduced to 30then a final three.

Smith was voted runner-up.

“It’s smart,” Martk’d founder Dion Walcott said of Smith’s design. “One of the things the Martk’d team always likes to say when we do these things is push the needle, which I think he really did. It makes people feel bad. ease, but understanding and reading why he did it, the message behind it, it just makes you appreciate the artwork even more.


The design on Smith’s shoe was hand-drawn and features male genitalia. He said the concept represents being “shameless”.

“For me, my sexuality isn’t just something that comes up once a [year]. It’s not just like a piece of rainbow fabric or a product or a crop top that I pull out once a [year] go to a parade. It’s part of who I am,” he said. “I wanted to create something that was very visible on people’s faces and just explicitly me.”

However, he said he didn’t want to make the design too serious.

“I also lean into this whole idea of ​​the genre, when you walk into a stall – especially in a primary school – the boys draw phallic images on the stalls,” he explained. “So being shameless about myself, but also not taking myself or taking life too seriously.”


He said being true to himself wasn’t always easy. It was a skill that took him years to learn and practice.

“Especially when I went out with some of my closest friends, I found myself apologizing for my sexuality and who I wanted to love. And eventually, I got sick of it.

The shoe was auctioned off on eBay. The money raised will go to the Pride and Remembrance Foundation.

Smith said he hopes anyone who buys and wears his shoe will be confident and not ashamed of who they are.

“I just got out there and lived,” he said.


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