If you’re passionate about shoes and design, then you’ve probably heard his name or seen his dramatic artwork. For over thirty years, Mark Schwartz has been designing shoes and collaborating with some of fashion’s biggest powerhouses. From Gucci to Balenciaga, Chanel to Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs to Hermes—Mark Schwartz has done it all. But it isn’t just his breathtaking shoe designs that he’s known for. After suggestion from the famous Andy Warhol, Mark took on a new form of art— painting. And he’s been a creative artistic force ever since.
Read our interview with Mark Schwartz below!
HC: How did you begin your journey in the fashion and design industry?
MS: "I started by working with Roger Vivier for about seven years. He was my mentor. I began as an assistant, but eventually became the creative director for Roger Vivier International. Roger was the one to actually introduce me to Andy Warhol. The two had been friends and Roger had suggested that Andy visit me sometime—which he did! In 1984, I got a phone call from my secretary telling me that Andy Warhol was in the office and wanted to meet."
HC: Andy Warhol’s inspiration on you is evident through your art. What was it like working with him?
MS: "He was very kind and very quiet. Andy wasn’t a man of a lot of words, but he was direct. When I met him, I was just starting to design shoes. And Andy loved shoes. We would sit together to talk about shoes and sketch them. After a few weeks of meetings like this, he suggested that I make my sketches like paintings—with watercolors and everything."
"I was totally intimidated, especially since Andy himself had done an entire series of paintings with shoes. But he insisted that I buy some paper and watercolor paint and practice, which I did. After a few weeks, I showed Andy my designs and we both laughed. But with months of practice and hard work, I improved my painting skills and fell in love with the craft."
HC: Has the painting process informed your shoe design process in any way?
MS: "Yes, of course. Sometimes when you do a rough sketch on paper, it doesn’t take on the life as it would when you paint it and attempt to make it more realistic. Painting, for me, brought out an artistic side in the shoe itself. Oftentimes, the final design would be inspired more by the painting process than the sketch of the actual shoe."