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Interview with Myton Abellera




 
"Art recognizes no boundaries, it sees no limitations."

Can you tell me a little about yourself, such as where you grew up, age, education, and how you got into shoes?
I was born in the Philippines 1975 and moved to the United States in 1986. My family settled in San Jose, California for a year before moving to Lodi and living there for 19 years. I now reside in Stockton. The Air Jordan VII Bordeauxs were my first pair in 1993 but I didn't really start collecting Air Jordan shoes until 1997, right after the Chicago Bulls won their 5th title. Michael was making victory a tradition and every year the popularity and hype of his shoes just kept on increasing, so I ordered the XIIs in the Black and Red colorway from Eastbay, the same model shoes he wore from that championship series. Surprisingly, a local Nike outlet also had 2 other colorways for sale and I purchased both pairs.




Myton with some of his Paintings


Do you remember your first memory of Michael Jordan, and what made you a fan?
I remember watching Michael Jordan for the first time on TV when my older brother bought the video "Come Fly With Me." Not being a fan of basketball, I paid little attention to the video. A couple of years later, my younger brother received Jordan's next video "Michael Jordan's Playground" as a birthday gift from his friends and every time they came over to our house, that was all they watched and never got tired of it. When I finally joined them and see what the big buzz was about, I began to take notice how amazing and awesome the guy was. The man was just abusing the opposition and his dunks were very impressive. And that was how I became a fan of Michael Jordan, but not his shoes, only his game. I didn't even realize that the man had his own line of signature shoes made by Nike until I saw a classmate wearing a clean pair of white sneakers with red and black accents and a reflective tongue [Vs]. The guy just stood out amongst the crowd and everyone glanced at his shoes, including me.


 

What equipment and materials do you use, and do you have a preferred medium?
I used to paint oil and had fun doing it for several years. Then I switched to acrylic and stuck with it since. The first time I began painting on canvas was during my junior year in high school when I took Advanced Art as an elective. I loved that class so much that I chose the class again on my Senior Year.

Where do you find inspiration for your paintings, and what�s the thought process before you begin a new project?
I have a wide collection of Michael Jordan magazines and books, so searching for good photos of Jordan for a project isn't a problem. Although I had painted Jordan in various actions, I prefer painting him when he's laying up the ball, not much dunking. To me, dunking is just complete elevation to the rim. I like photos of His Airness maneuvering and gliding by his defenders and getting his shot off, or him executing a reverse lay up. His movement in mid-air is like poetry in motion. Those are the kinds of pictures I look for and what most of my paintings are based on, aerial artistry rather than aerial assault.



How often do you adapt a photograph to a different scene � such as MJ wearing a UNC jersey along with Military IVs, and how much more difficult does this make a project?
In the beginning I used to copy and paint Michael Jordan exactly as he appeared in the photograph. Now I print a reverse image or a mirror image of the original photograph then make some slight changes such as uniform color and sneaker model. My painting of Jordan decked out in a North Carolina jersey and sporting the AJ military IVs was based on a Nike photo of him wearing a UNC jersey with the AJ IXs in powder blue that came out during his initial retirement. The actual photo for my painting was from the 1993 Finals Series against the Phoenix Suns. I wanted to paint him with the current Carolina basketball jersey at the time then add a different model of Air Jordans that would match with his outfit. I chose the military blue IVs for the painting and a camouflage pattern as a backdrop. However, the difficult part was not having the jersey. Attention to detail is always imperative. Stores like Footlocker and Champs no longer had the jersey so I didn't have the slightest idea what it actually looked like. Internet search didn't provide much help. Eventually, an issue of Eastbay magazine presented me all the major details I needed.



What paintings have you started or conceptualized but did not complete, and was there any particular reason?
My initial intention was to paint Michael Jordan wearing all the basketball jerseys he ever wore, beginning with his High School Bucs Jersey until with the Wizards. Since Nike releases a Jordan UNC jersey every year in various colorways, I wanted to incorporate that too in my project. That was going to be my ultimate tribute to the greatest basketball player of all time, unfortunately I lost track of all the Tar Heel jersey that came out. I figured I might as well paint him with the AJ Is to the XXIIs.

What is your favorite painting that you have done?
My favorite painting, which I titled "True Honor," is Michael Jordan playing in the Olympics with the American flag as a background. I am very honored that Jordan Brand used it as one of eighteen MJ photos for the AJ 18 ad in 2003. I remember walking around the mall and noticing my work hanging at a Finishline store, it was an awesome feeling just staring up at the Ad or poster with my art piece on it. Foot Locker and Footaction had them too. JB sent me the same ads from each store.



Do you do commissioned work for Jordan fans as well, or do you keep your work for your personal collection? What�s the strangest request a customer has asked for if you�ve done work for others?
Most of my work is for my personal collection. I get a lot of requests from people to do commission work but I never really have the time. There are still several Jordan paintings in my studio which I haven't finished. I've done just a couple of work for friends. So far, I haven't received any strange requests for a painting. I had people ask me to do paintings of their lowrider cars, their pets, portraits, but mostly Michael Jordan.



What�s your favorite non-Jordan item that you�ve done?
Anything that had to do with Transformers First Generation. I grew up watching the cartoon show in the late 80s and it was always an enjoyment sketching Optimus Prime and the rest of the Autobots. With the Transformers movie directed by Steven Spielberg due to release on Independence Day of this year, I can assure you that I will be doing a lot of sketches of the Transformers. As a matter of fact, I already started last month.



Any funny stories you may have, regarding sneakers, Jordan, or a particular painting? Lastly, any questions or comments of your own?
I once drove a Honda CR-V with a huge Jumpman decal on the spare tire cover, right above it read "JORDAN FOREVER." One day, me and several friends went to San Francisco and visited the Golden Gate Bridge. I parked my vehicle at the parking lot and we proceeded to the bridge. I think there was a couple of viewing telescopes right before the bridge begins. One of my friends deposited a quarter to get it working. As I stood next to him, I remember him saying that he's got the telescopes pointed and zoomed in at my vehicle and that there were people around it.

The first thing I thought of was that it was getting vandalized so I told him to move over quickly. As I looked through the lenses, I noticed a group of Japanese tourist posing and taking pictures next to my spare tire cover with the Jumpman logo. That was absolutely hilarious.