Artist Jordan "MonsterMac" McMahon has been painting on canvas shoes for just a couple of years, but his creations are already in such demand that he has a two-month backlog of orders. He's been drawing since he was 4 years old so creating characters and designs were nothing new to the 30-year-old, but working on shoes was a change for him. He painted his first pair for his fiance. He was happy with the results but thought, "I could do better," and started on another pair. That was some 80 pairs ago. Now he works from his Monster Mac Designs website and other online marketing sites.
It takes McMahon, who came to Houston in 2009 after a five year stint in the Navy where he saw three tours of duty during the Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom campaigns, an average of 20 hours to complete a pair of shoes. That might seem to be a long time for such a small surface area, but McMahon creates a unique design for each, mixes his own paints and works almost completely freehand with very little sketching involved in the process.
Customers ask for specific designs, which he accommodates, but he stays away from simply transforming an image from a photograph to shoes. "I got asked to do Sponge Bob and I said would do it, but if I put my own twist on it. You still know it's him, but it's not a copy of anything you've seen before. I like to draw things a little bit weird and a little bit wacky." Each of those little bit weird, little bit wacky creations range in price from $150 to $200.
What he does: "I'm a mechanic by day and an artist by night," MacMahon tells us, who also has a day job working on engines. "I'm an artist-slash-designer. Right now I'm not using any digital stuff for my work; I'm pretty old school. I started this just because I liked it, because I enjoyed it but then it worked out that I could provide for my family."
Why he likes it: "I love the freedom that my customers give me to create something new, something different, something that they're going to love. I love creating something that's one-of-a-kind, that's not just one of a million."
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What inspires him: "I like to surf the Internet to see new images. It could be a sign or a logo that could inspire me, that sparks an idea. Certain artists inspire me, tattoo artists, graffiti artists. Sometimes I go around and look at the new street art that's up. I like to keep some of my favorite art around me all the time, it keeps me in a creative mindset."
If not this, then what: "If I couldn't do art, I would be more into fitness. I work out here and there, but I used to be really into fitness. That was before I was doing the shoes and had more time. I'm older now and I like to be around with my family more." MacMahon has three daughters under the age of six and he and his fiance are expecting another baby girl any time now.
If not here, then where: "I'm originally from California, so I'd like to go back there. I've always wanted to live in [Los Angeles] or San Francisco. There's art everywhere there, you're surrounded by it."
What's next: "I'm kinda winging it right now, not trying to force it and just let things happen as they happen. I'm trying to expand, but in a way that lets me continue doing my hand-painted work. I've been contacted about doing some clothing. I've also been thinking about getting some of my work printed in limited editions, like only 20 pairs of a design. That would bring the price down a little but people would still be getting something special, a signed pair of my shoes."