As an artist we are always discovering and reimagining new ways to expand upon our creativity. Alejandro Carela Diaz shows us that he knows no limits when it comes to his artistry!
On Saturday, November 13th, Carela debuted his very own sneaker collection known as his Ogin series at Up 2 Something Studios. Carela is known for his unique abstract designs alongside his bold color palette. We’ve mainly seen his work take life in his paintings, mural work, jewelry, clothing, and even interior design. What made this event so special was that Carela was premiering this newfound medium and collection for the first time.
Carela curated the space in a way in which visitors felt like they were entering an exhibition of his work spanning across all mediums. He utilized a traditional gallery setup to not only showcase his new collection, but also show how his work takes on many different life forms. The highlight of this event that you couldn't miss was a site-specific sculpture in which Carela recreated the box of his sneakers in a larger form, adding an interesting immersive element to the space.
We were able to speak to Carela further about his new collection, his process, and so much more:
Lauryn: I want to talk to you about this new collection you're dropping and kind of tell us what went behind the design process of that, bringing it here, and showing us all.
Carela: Well, Ogin actually, Nigo spelled backwards is an inspiration because he’s the first designer I saw who made his own sneaker. I was in awe and inspired by that. I based the sneaker off that without calling it Nigo. I switched up the name, put it backwards. That's kind of like my tactic with all my styles. I've done this style collection before this one titled Far, which is based on Raf Simmons. Raf spelled backward is Far. Raf Simmons started making furniture before they closed, like way back then. I like to reinvent the wheel in a sense and have fun with it. I've always been into sneakers; I even sold all my sneakers to start my own business. Eventually, I found my way back into those things through my designs.
Lauryn: I know I've asked you this previously, but can you tell them a bit about how you came to the name Carela?
Carela: My name is Alejandro Diaz, right. Carela is my mom's last name. This is kind of funny, today, November 13th is my mom's birthday and today's the day of the first pop-up. I just want to pay my respects to both my parents and honor my mom. I'm already walking in my dad's footsteps, but this is something for my mom. So yeah, Carela is based on my mom's last name and is deeply rooted.
Lauryn: Could you just talk about the creative process of producing a shoe and what are the trials that you went through?
Carela: Making a sneaker is a little more difficult. You must think of more features that the human body already has such as: if your foot sweats, how it gets out, if there's a cooling factor, and there's a bunch of different materials that we need to play around with and use. I ask myself; how can I design it? Can I get the same design without compromising it? I've tried on a bunch of sneakers for the past three years. I made some that have a beautiful design, but after 1-2 hours, my feet are on fire and it's because there's no circulation, meaning, there's no air going through it.
It’s all trial and error and I must go back to the drawing board again, trying different materials. You’re also playing around with the comfort of different sizes of people. I'm still working on that right now. In my opinion, the sneaker fits true to size, but I'm learning every day that some people are like half sizes in the fits, maybe small or some of it is too big. At the end of the day, everyone's a different size.
Aldhair: What advice would you give an emerging artist or footwear designer now that you've gone through it and you're at your first pop-up?
Carela: This is the most expensive project I've done besides furniture. Ideally, you should find a good factory and have good communication and network with them. You could probably negotiate prices, negotiate how many sneakers you must buy at one time. Negotiate pretty much how you can roll out the sneaker. There's a bunch of different factors I would love to recommend to everybody such as understanding the full game, where it's at now, and what we're going to be in the future. Ask yourself, what's your vision? What do you want to do going forward and how do you want to leave your impact?
Aldhair: Why did you choose Up 2 Something for your pop-up?
Carela: I love the clean aesthetic Up 2 Something has. All white walls, gray floors, and since I'm bringing you elegant street art, it could enhance what I'm displaying. It puts everything out into a different perspective. A lot of my art is very abstract, and I feel like I need that clean, elegant look so I can enhance the street in the art of it. I'm a person who just loves quality over quantity. I've tried to show that in my artwork. I showcase a gallery with sneakers in a sense. The sneaker is art instead of just me selling you sneakers.
Aldhair: Talking about art, but could you get into the details? Can you tell me more about the details of the shoe? I want to know what that pattern means or what it is?
Carela: I started as an artist back in 2014 by painting. By 2017, I will develop a signature of how I like to paint and my style. I always try to figure out, how can I sell this a little bit? I'm always trying to infuse my art with functioning well, for materialistic things, without looking too artsy. When I do my paintings, I need to give it a whole design and aesthetic. One of the main pieces of my signatures is pretty much shapes and colors. You see around the entire sneaker or just different characters I start using when I draw. It's part of an alphabet I'm making right now. I'll let the people guess which one it looks like or what they think I’m implying. It's kind of a fun game I'm playing with others. I just let people guess what it says or if they can see if there's a word or whatnot, but I'm just having fun with everything.
Aldhair: What else should we be expecting from you? Or what else are you working towards that you don't mind sharing?
Carela: Ideally Carela will be a footwear brand. Since I love art, you will always see some artistic canvases or sculptures from me. It just means I’m playing around and having fun. Also, the home decor is more aesthetic. I'm showing you what I can do, but it's mainly about sneakers, footwear, and way more. My colorwear is coming out next year. Next year, I will have the full women's line. Ideally, it’s about trying to blend fashion and art. The brand Carela, overall, is about elegant street art.