Artist Joshua Vides gained a following in 2018 for the Nike Air Force 1s he hand painted with thick, black strokes that made the shoes look cartoonish. They became an immediate hit—LeBron James wore a pair last April. Vides parlayed that aesthetic into something bigger with exhibitions, pieces of art, and experiential spaces he created with brands or artists like Takashi Murakami. But he’s ready to be known for something else.
“I think for me a big thing right now is 99.9 percent of my followers on Instagram just want to see me paint a shoe white and black, right? And I'm okay with that because obviously that's something I created,” said Vides. “But I'm very unlike other artists because I do a lot of things besides paint things white and black. I touch a lot of categories of business.”
For Vides, Side Project, a store and customization space located at 517 ½ North Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles, will show the industry how versatile he is. It’s his actual side project and a way to offer mentorship and resources to whoever wants to create product. At the front of the store is a retail area selling merch from the in house line Side Project, and in the back, behind a dry cleaners conveyor, are four tables that visitors can rent for two hours at a rate of $150. They can work with a creative consultant and bring in their own pieces, or they can purchase items like Herschel bags, blank Champion T-shirts, Converse Chuck Taylors—it’s rumored that he’s working with the brand on a sneaker collab—and Rothco bomber jackets to customize.
The space was previously a store for CLSC, a streetwear line Vides co-founded in 2010 but left in 2017. Vides didn’t realize his name was still on the lease when he received a call last September from the landlord who was close to evicting the brand, but asked Vides if he wanted to take over the space for the sake of his credit score.
“I always wish I had a space where I could just make whatever the fuck I could, to be honest,” said Vides, who remembers working with screenprinters for the past 10 years and wanting to do it himself. “For me, Side Project is just making it very clear that ‘Yo, I can do this too.’ I can run a business, I can start something from scratch, and I can design a clothing brand because I'm a graphic designer at the end of the day,” said Vides.
According to Vides, since opening a few weeks ago, all types of customers have come in. Some arrive with a hard drive filled with their own logos to make samples for their brand, while others, like Racks Hogan in the video, come in to customize a piece for fun. And there’s friends who just tagalong to watch the process.
While the workshop space is very active, Vides believes the store’s main stream of income will be products sold from the Side Project line, which already received more than 150 orders online after being available for just a couple weeks.
“I more so want to make the back accessible as opposed to charge $500 an hour and no one comes,” said Vides.
Vides will also release new one-off Side Project items that will be available in store every day, and other pieces he wasn’t able to release before he launched this brand.
“This is kind of allowing me to move outside of the art world. I don't have to just generate canvas, and sculpture, and paint these experiential spaces,” said Vides. “Side Project allows me to tap into my other creative angles and pieces. If I were to release them in the past, people would be confused because it has nothing to do with black and white.”