Story and Photos by Tom Wallace

Sneaker Pimps are well-known among sneaker-freakers globally for their traveling lifestyle exhibition of rare kicks, celeb-autographs, and artist collaborations. Touring the U.S. in its 6th year, we caught the kick-off May 1, in Los Angeles, featuring on-site artists such as Simone Legno from TokiDoki painting live, along with legendary Sole Junkie, who was also debuting his new coffee table book of incredibly inspirational portraits and stories of his lifestyle as a sneaker artist.

Girl kicks and colorful shoelaces are a part of the B-scene

More than 200 pairs of shoes, including very exclusive, limited-edition high-end kicks, all painted by various artists were on display attracting scores of fans and sneakerheads. In addition this year, was an interesting, display of old-school gaming consoles. This could be because Xbox360 Battle Royale was the sponsor, or simply because the old models bring back a bit of retro coolness, and an ’80’s and ’90’s vibe of old-school gaming.

For the uninitiated in sneaker culture, sneaker art is very tied to graffiti and street art, hip-hop, and the urban dance movements. The re-emergence of the B-boy scene, especially among the top crews from South Korea such as the Drifterz, Rivers, and Gamblez crews are clearly catching on thanks to the popularity of YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook where followers show their moves and discuss in detail the aspects of dance, sneaks, and fashion. Events such as the R-16 World Finals in Korea in 2008 was all about showcasing the best crews around the world -including an unexpected force from Russia’s Top Nine crew and a team from Israel.

Girl art-kicks

To step back a little, when Benson Lee’s documentary “Planet B-Boy” came out in 2007, it pushed the B-boy scene to altogether new levels, including the growing subculture of women b-girlz. The amazing book WeB*Girlz, by Nika Kramer and photographer Martha Cooper, first captured the b-girlz scene in 2005, but with new media pumping the viral scene and the documentary Planet B-Boy, the We*BGirlz started their own event series, including a massive 4-week long festival in Berlin, Germany in 2008. The festival not only included battles, but workshops, panel discussions, a film festival, and networking opportunities for girls in the scene. It’s also helped create new heroines such as B Bubbles out of the UK thanks to their popular site and YouTube battle clips.

This movement in the b-girl scene was reflected at the Sneaker Pimps show as more sneaker girl fans attended, and more kicks for girls from various brands were on display. Girls are also taking up sneak-art, opening an entirely new field in art and footwear cultures. Top sites like keep the girl sneak scene alive and well.

Sneaker Pimps tour runs through May 30th ending in New York.

Steven Cedre a.k.a. Sole Junkie, one of the top street and sneaker artists in the game, with his new book “Sole Junkie -The Custom Kicks of Steven Cedre”

Kicks by Sole Junkie

Faces from Sole Junkie

Artist behind TokiDoki, Simone Legno

More art on sneaks in metallics

Paris street artist Andre and his signature painted kicks

NYC street artist Claw Money and her signature painted kicks

Deconstructed bugs sneak

Artist Fifi and her signature Adidas art kicks

KSwiss is big in this scene

Old-school gaming consoles were on display

Xbox was the sponsor of Sneaker Pimps and these branded art kicks are worth some money

Nike Xbox art sneaks

Signature white Vans slip-ons with art

More girl motifs in sneaker artwork

On-site artist at Sneaker Pimps working it

Old-school cassette and video gaming console collections brought an ’80s and ’90s vibe

Monster art gaming console

Detailed orange artwork

Sneaker Pimps sneaker wraps-up the show