Category Archives: Art

Celebrating Nelson Mandela


Today would have been Nelson Mandela’s 96th birthday, so to celebrate his life and everything he represents, I’m sharing with you all the work of Marco Cianfanelli.  This artist created this sculpture in honor of the 50th anniversary of Mandela’s capture by the apartheid police, which stands in South Africa.

“This represents the momentum gained in the struggle through the symbolic of Mandela’s capture. The 50 columns represent the 50 years since his capture, but they also suggest the idea of many making the whole; of solidarity. It points to an irony as the political act of Mandela’s incarceration cemented his status as an icon of struggle, which helped ferment the groundswell of resistance, solidarity and uprising, bringing about political change and democracy.”
-Marco Cianfanelli
Nelson Mandela Sculpture

Congratulations to the King of Clay!


Last weekend, Rafael Nadal ended the French Open with a win against Novak Djokovich, securing his place as not only the top seed, but also arguably the best tennis player on clay.  This title makes nine total wins for Rafa at the Roland Garros Tournament, which is most wins for any single player in one tournament.  To honor the King of Clay, Nike Tennis created a life size sculpture of Rafa in one of his standard victory poses.  Of course, the statue was made in none other than red clay.  I’ll never forget when I first started watching Rafa play back when he still wore muscle tees and long shorts.  I still haven’t seen him play live, but I’m glad to be able to witness this history being made.  Congratulations to Rafa on shaping the history of Tennis and props to Nike for noticing!

King of Clay

Yeezy 2 Cerberus Painting by ROM


ROM is still busy at work and, as usual, creativity is front and center. Watch as this plain canvas is transformed into the first Hypebeast of his series, the Yeezy 2 Cerberus. It’s inspired by the Yeezy 2 sneakers and the mythologocial Cerberus beast. Combine the two and an aggressive “hypebeast” has been created. Enjoy the video… create and conquer!

Words From An Artist


This past week I was given the opportunity to see author Junot Diaz speak live and I was also able to meet him, which has been genuinely one of the biggest blessings in my life.  It is not everyday that a person can personally listen to and learn from an individual who is the figure you aspire to be.  Diaz is an accomplished author, who has gained both respect from critics and loyalty from readers, which is what I would like to achieve one day.  I’ll be honest, prior to this fall semester, I had no idea who Junot Diaz was.  However, throughout the past couple of months, I have been able to read some of his work and learn more about him (and I’ll definitely continue to follow his work).  With that being said, Diaz has certainly earned a place as one of my biggest inspirations as an author and as an artist, which is something I will forever be grateful for.

The main thing that I found is that Diaz writes from an honest place.  He uses his own life, emotions, and perspective to help shape his work as a whole.  Rather than writing what he thinks people will like or saying what seems to be appropriate, Diaz does not hold back.  He simply tells the truth no matter what, which is something I can genuinely respect.  Diaz is a man who knows the struggle.  He has lived through hardship and he is realistic enough to never let go of those experiences; however, Diaz is also brave enough to not let those moments define him.  Diaz could’ve easily have become an engineer or entered a more “practical” field, but he instead chose to pursue his own dream and become an artist.

During his talk, Diaz explained the complications that come with becoming an artist.  Success and fame are generally not included in the equation.  An artist’s views will constantly be challenged, undermined, and ignored.  To be an artist is to take the off beat path that will be an uphill battle your entire life, but, if you’re a true artist, it’ll be worth it.  If you achieve the excellence you work so hard to get as an artist, then that is the real success story.  Success does not necessarily equate selling five million copies of your book or getting a movie deal.  Yes, those things would be nice, but success is more about your personal fulfillment.  The question you need to be asking when you wonder about your accomplishments sounds more like “is your work excellent?”  That is what will give you success.

Sure, your first project can be an overnight success, but try to rush your sophomore release and you’ll get a mediocre product that has been watered down by the pressures of success.  That excellence or success won’t last you long then.  I’ve seen it happen and I think this hurried path is much more detrimental to your artistic soul than a delayed comeback project.  It was particularly comforting to know that Diaz’s first book went virtually unnoticed by everyone.  At the time, nobody cared about his work or the name Junot Diaz, no matter how excellent the quality of his work was.  It wasn’t until Diaz won the Pulitzer Prize for his second book that he began to get some recognition for his excellence.  Even then, Diaz attributes many of his awards to luck.  Not only is the guy humble, but he realizes the extraordinary amount of talent that goes unnoticed.  He knows, mainly because he’s been there, that there are so many artists creating top-notch work that will never get praised for it, but what matters is that they continue to create excellence, fulfilling their own dreams and amounting to their personal success.

It took Diaz 16 years to write three books.  It took him 11 of those years to finally be acknowledged for his writing.  It takes some authors two years to write a whole series, which is intimidating for someone like me.  I like to take my time with my work and I always wondered how I could ever possibly match up to the speed of other writers, but Diaz taught me that the key is I don’t have to.  He admitted that he, at times, loses morale when he sees so many other writers pumping out books like they’re working in a factory.  He confessed that he has to fight to ignore the voice that mocks his pace and style of writing, but the important thing is that he succeeds in ignoring that voice every time and focuses on his own work, rather than that of others.  Once you choose speed, fame, and wealth over the authenticity and excellence of what you release, you’ll never know success.  You’ll lose any consistency that you have that can lead to a deeper success.  You can’t jeopardize your artistry for something so superficial.  If you do, then you never really were an artist to begin with.

After his talk, I was able to tell Junot Diaz about my own dreams of becoming an author.  After calling me “negra” (a spanish term of endearment) with a smile on his face and listening to what I had to say, he looked me in the eyes and said “Good Luck.”  There was definitely a warning for the difficulties that will come from the choice I’ve made, but there was also a lack of doubt.  As much as he may not want to admit it, Diaz is successful.  He has gained an enormous amount of respect and recognition for his work, while never jeopardizing the truth that he speaks.  Diaz is proof that an artist can be successful.  He proved that I can be an artist and be successful, which he made sure to include in his tone.  With the words “good luck” and his body language, Diaz was actually saying “it’s going to be tough, but it’s not impossible, so good luck.”

If I took anything away from my experience of seeing Diaz speak live, it would be his emphasis on our world’s necessity for artists.  Art is what brings life to our world and it is the one thing that people will truly miss when it’s gone.  This need for artistry is what has fortified my belief in my future.  Diaz’s words and legacy have given me hope to do what I love.  I feel blessed to have been given this opportunity.  I feel so much more inspired after speaking to someone like Junot Diaz who has been where I want to go and, more importantly, was willing to share his knowledge with me.

A Long-Awaited Sequel


In April 2011, ROM debuted their limited edition custom sneakers with the release of the Samurai I’s.  Within no time they became a sneakerhead favorite and people were already asking for a part two.  A little over a year later and after plenty of teaser pictures, ROM has now released the Samurai II’s.  These sneakers seem to have everything that was so loved about the Samurai I’s, like Japanese inspired art, nice details, and an overall clean design, but this sequel definitely has some new touches that will make it just as desirable.  The whole design is based on a black, blue, and pewter color way, in my opinion, speaking to the stealth of the samurai and the notorious sleekness of ROM.  The back panel features samurai art created by ROM himself in blue against a black background.  To add to the details within the design, the shoe sports a pewter to black fade, while the swoosh has a blue to black fade to match it.  As a final touch, the ROM tag stands out in red on the heel.

As opposed to its Samurai I brother, the Samurai II’s can be ordered straight off of the new ROM webstore and are available in Nike Dunk lows ($260) or highs ($300).  Did I mention that only 20 pairs are being made?  If you’re interested, you might want to act fast.

The Detroit Beautification Project


I was recently in Philadelphia and one of the things that stood out the most to me was the endless array of murals on so many buildings.  The colors and positive images were all mesmerizing and I couldn’t get enough of it.  I have always been a lover of art and to see it being used to enhance an urban area that is so often associated with poverty and being dilapidated was a nice change.  Now, Detroit is undergoing a beautification project with the help of a team of street artists that are determined to help the city through their artistic gift.  This kind of art is not only stunning, but also inspiring.  Who said graffiti wasn’t beautiful?

The Detroit Beautification Project. Chapter 1 from TheSeventhLetter on Vimeo.

ROM X Mobb Deep Lebron 9


The latest RŌM design is out and this time it’s being backed by The Infamous Mobb Deep.  The latest addition to the RŌM repertoire was specifically commissioned by the rap duo made up of Havoc and Prodigy and is done on a Lebron 9.  With a black, red, white, and pewter colorway, the sneakers marry the rawness of Mobb Deep with the true artistry of RŌM.  Classic Mobb Deep lyrics are showcased in white graffiti style font, while the pewter starts off on the toe and fades to black toward the back of the pair.  If you want more details on these kicks, then take note of the Mobb Deep spelled out on the rear of the sneakers.  Some black splatters complete the backdrop for the newest RŌM release.  To get your own pair, simply visit the RŌM website here.  For $350 they’re yours, but remember only 30 pairs are being made and Mobb Deep already grabbed the first two, so hop to it!