Reina is a designer and Illustrator from Tokyo Japan, currently based in Los Angeles, Ca. She is best known for her illustration series, “Sole Fatale”, where she reimagines iconic sneakers into pinup style art.
She grew up moving back and forth between Tokyo, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, collecting inspiration across vastly different cultures. Her background is reflected in her art, as her style is a blending of classic pin up, American graphic novels and a modern twist on traditional Japanese illustrations.
Rastaclat: What about footwear inspires you?
RK: There are thousands of shoes where there was like amazing stories embedded in each of them. I just wanted to explore more like, "What can I come up with?”
Rastaclat: Any shoes in particular?
RK: I felt like Jordans and Air Max's, they're just so historical. The way they came up, how the designs came up, and the people that were involved, the people who wore them, and what those things represented at the time, it just has so much depth.
Rastaclat: How do the places you’ve lived influence your art?
RK: Something that I've really enjoyed drawing was pin-up girls, classic American pin-up girls, that style and the use of colors and just the whole background and that scene is so interesting to me, especially coming in as a foreigner. I was so interested in these two different worlds, visually I started seeing similarities. That really inspired me to like, "What if I put together those two things?"
Rastaclat: Can you talk about your creative process?
RK: The whole process of thinking about taking this surface and visually stripping everything off and reconstructing it into a completely different shape was just so fun, I enjoyed that part a lot. I drew inspirations from powerful women across the world, like inspirational athletes, to dancers, to females that influence and shape this world. I would take their powerful confident personalities and characteristics and basically embed it into these illustrations.
Rastaclat: How long have you been working on this series?
RK: It has been almost five years, since I started doing this series, and recently I’ve started to really think about who these women are that I draw. They’re not just sexy renditions of a shoe. I started looking back into the relationship between sneaker, culture, sneakers, people, and time periods.
It dawned on me, sneakerheads can line up for a shoe for hours even maybe days to get a pair of shoes, and if a pair of shoes could do that, why can’t a person create that kind of energy?
Rastaclat: How has sneakerhead culture shaped who you are as an artist and individual?
Sneakerheads have a closet full of sneakers but the ones that they truly cherish and want to keep are the ones that they fought for.
I had to ask myself, do I treat myself with enough respect and love that makes me that kind of person? I come from a society where people are almost programmed to be humble, overly humble, and being overly confident was frowned upon.
I’ve always had this very reserved personality where I will put others before me, and I think that’s how I grew, how I lived this whole time. Now that I’m thinking about this art and its like sneakers and everything, I’m like, "I don’t even really do that. I could treat myself with respect and that’s going to eventually force other people to show me the same kind of respect because I respect myself.”
That's the kind of attitude that I'm putting on paper basically. That's why they're very powerful, they know that they're the shit, they know they're confident because they believe in themselves and their own value. If they had a voice they would be like, "If you want this and you better be working for it."