As part of Landmark's year-long "A Year of Wisdom" campaign, where creative talents are brought in to reinvent the modern gentleman's shopping experience, renowned street artist Daniel Cordas was invited to Hong Kong to create one-off designs on luxury items from Landmark Men boutiques. The young British artist became an overnight sensation when he posted his first custom-painted sneakers on Instagram. Now, his work can be seen on a host of international celebrities. For his trip to Hong Kong, Cordas created a collection around the theme four elements: earth, fire, water and air. We spoke to Cordas about his career highlights and what his dream canvas would be.

Why did you choose the four elements as your theme for your collection for Landmark?

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how we’re living in a world with lots of uncertainty, but the four elements are straightforward; they're the basis of life. One of my favourites is the umbrella from The Armoury I painted with a blue sky on the inside. People obviously use umbrellas on a rainy day, so it's my way of saying, "Look on the bright side of life."

How did your custom painting career begin?

I went to art school in the UK for A-levels but I didn't want to go to an art college because I hated the idea of being forced to paint a certain number of pieces and being forced to be creative. I always had a passion for business, so I went to university for that.

When I graduated I worked in retail for Nike in Harrods, where I began collecting sneakers. I also started doing hip-hop inspired art at the time, so I combined the two and put the image on Instagram. When Harrods saw it, they told me to quit my job and do a three-month pop-up for them. I've been busy ever since.

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From concept to creation, what does that process look like?

I always have an idea of what I want to do, but I like to go with the flow. Depending on the surface of the object, the paint I use might react differently so I have to use different mixtures of paint to make sure it's durable and be flexible. The end product may not be the same as what I had envisioned and the same design would be painted differently on different shoes. It's a moving process.

What are some of the most intimidating projects you've done?

The first time I was asked to do three Birkins. The bags are made of a very specific leather so I couldn’t practice. I never really get nervous but that time was an exception.

Doing the three-month pop-up at Harrods was also pretty crazy. I started upstairs in the sportswear section but it was so popular they moved it to the men's international collections section, where I also did some painting on the walls.

That was one of my favourite moments because I went from working there to having the whole space to myself to create my art. It felt like a dream.

How do you choose who to collaborate with?

I just started doing a collaboration with Jimmy Choo. I’m doing a floral shoe for their Spring/Summer 2018 collection and a neon sign-type design on a pair of pumps. I would never accept projects that I feel are not a good fit. I've turned down a lot of high-calibre projects for that reason, even though I'm at the start of my career and should be looking for maximum exposure.

It's so important for me to do something I'm excited about. When I get an idea, I lie awake all night because I can't wait to get up and paint it. If you're being forced to do something you don't want to, it's never going to be good.

Do you have a dream canvas you have yet to paint on?

I want to paint a supercar, like a Lamborgini or Ferrari, in floral. You never know what might pop up, so you just have to be flexible and make room for opportunities to come while still doing things you want to do. I can’t say what I’m going to be doing in a year or even six months. We’ll just have to see what happens. 

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