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Vans Kicks it with Muralist Shaina Kasztelan

The Artist Shares her Thoughts on Painting, Origins & Her Recent Sneaker Collab

Shaina Kasztelan

Nordstrom recently featured work by Detroit artist Shaina Kaszelan in their ad campaign for their collaboration with Vans. For a limited time, customers buying a pair of white vans will receive a free customization kit including puffy paint and rhinestones. Everything needed to make your own works of art. 

The sweet shout-out is the culmination of a relationship that started earlier this year when House of Vans rolled into town for a weekend pop-up. Shaina came on board as a resident artist and was asked to paint a limited number of custom Vans, with all proceeds going to The Boys & Girls Club

While we’re bummed these are long sold out, we’re stoked for the opportunity to create our own!  

And, if that doesn’t work out—*remembers third grade art class*— we might just hit up Shaina for a commission. Or pop by Condado Tacos or Antihero, two spots to check out Shaina’s mural work + snacks. Triple awesome.  

Here we talk origin and miscellaneous things. Like Shaina’s work, this conversation’s all over the place, but it comes together eloquently.  

CV Henriette: Let’s start from the beginning…. 

Shaina Kasztelan: My name is Shaina Kasztelan, and I am a 29-years old multimedia artist living and working in Detroit. 

I’m an eclectic, femme alien who is constantly balancing manic chaos and trying to find Zen—very much two sides of a coin. I’m a Gemini, so it goes with the territory. Butch/femme, anxious/blissful, contemporary/vintage, distracted/focused, happy/sad, sunrise/sunset. 

CVh: When you’re not painting shoes?  

SK: I am working my absolute favorite job in the whole world—I build and paint floats with an amazing team for Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Parade Company is so much fun. Every morning I want to wake up to enjoy everyone’s company as we build giant cartoon props. It’s super hard, and sometimes frustrating work, but honestly my team makes it all worth it. 

CVh: Ideas? Where do they come from?  

SK: Sometimes I have an idea right away.  

Sometimes I won’t know what I want to make until I go to gather materials and find interesting objects that catch my eye. It’s very intuitive. I go to a lot of thrift stores, dollar stores, wholesale warehouses… things with a LOT of stuff in them, like piles.  

Consumerism is an overarching concept that I work with on almost every piece, so the bulk of my material is cheap, throw-away, useless objects. Or objects that mean a lot to people and contain lot of memories within them—like things given away to thrift stores. Who had these things before me? Why did they give them away? What purpose did this serve at one time and what will it become when I start manipulating it? 

CVh: Inspiration?  

SK: My interests/inspirations are really a patchwork cyborg—a conglomeration of fears and passions.  

I’m into: Cartoons, punk rock, psychedelic experiences, internet culture, anime, Japanese street fashion, graffiti, pop culture from the 90’s-00’s, the LGBT community, vintage toys/advertising, Halloween, kawaii culture, stop motion animation, surrealism, pop art, dada, highly decorated Victorian houses, overelaborate Christmas displays, tattoos, B-Horror movies, techno, avant-garde costumes, candy ravers and clowns. 

CVh: Vans collaboration? How’d that happen?  

SK: I started working with Vans this year when the House of Vans took over a school over the Jefferson School on Selden. Someone from their team contacted me about doing some live painting.  

Everyone from that company is so nice! They gave me some dope shoes and paid me well and included other high-quality local artists and musicians in the lineup, along with some pretty well-known people from elsewhere…One of them was the guy who created the original character design for Bobs Burgers! Jay Howell! 

CVh: Currently?  

SK: I’m currently infatuated with my plants. My partner and I just bought our first house together and recently got the front bay window area painted, so we hung up our macramé holders and bought shelves for the others. We have maybe 30 different types of succulents and random house pants. I think of them as kind of paintings in their individual planters… most of them MATCH their planter in some way like the colors go together or whatever. And seeing them all together is beautiful too. 

CVh: What’s next?  

SK: I am going to Mexico City for a mural festival that I was just accepted into! CIMU—it’s an all-women mural/installation/performance art festival in its second year. There were about 300 applications this year and less than 20 people picked, so that’s very exciting.  

I love Mexico! I have been to the Riviera Maya area three times now with my family for vacation. I’m excited to experience a different part of the country and meet new friends and paint something cool! I hope to be the best ambassador and gracious artist especially with the disgust and embarrassment I feel for our government and what’s happening at the border right now.  

I hope to learn many things from the people I interact with and bring some love from my all friends in Southwest Detroit.  

CVh: What’s missing?  

SK: You should be asking “What is the best kept secret of Metro Detroit?” Because I would say Detroit Pho & Crab

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