New York City-based artist Jason Ruff creates objects that represent his “stories and fascinations.” His most recent series features sneaker models made from cigarette cartons, discarded food packaging, duct tape, game boards, plastic straws, and more. The result is surprisingly realistic. Ruff calls the series “Mixing the unattainable objects of my youth.” Cigarettes, fancy shoes, junk food—sure sounds like all the things we wanted when we were youngins.
We chatted with Ruff to find out what goes into creating these awesome kicks, and what his favorite sneakers are.
What inspired you to make these sneakers out of cigarette boxes and food packaging?
I am the product of a consumer culture. I grew up with Air Jordan and Joe Camel. The idea of “being cool” is my inspiration and aspiration. The mixing of these two iconic American objects started by finding a bag of discarded cigarette cartons put out for recycling in my neighborhood. I saw the Newport swoosh and that was that.
Which cigarette brands did you use and where did you find the discarded food packaging?
I got the food product containers and food packaging from local bodegas. The “air” pockets are created from straws. The brands of cigarettes I used were Newport Menthols, Newport Golds, American Spirits (yellow), and Marlboro Reds. I also used packaging from the Chinese strategy game “Go”.
How long does one sneaker take you to make?
This is hard to determine as I have many projects going on at once. I would say the latest pair (Yeezys) took at least 100 hours. They are all hand crafted, so one could imagine the amount of time it takes to create the perforated surfaces.
I’m assuming you’re a huge sneakers fan What are your favorite sneakers?
Yes! No doubt, Nike Air Jordan III’s (black) and IV’s (white), but my day to day shoes are work boots.
What is your day job?
I’m a middle school art teacher
Click through the gallery to see the likenesses of Air Jordans, Nike Dunks, Yeezys, and more.