Ghica Popa, a Romanian artist who worked for the collection “TO EVERYONE WHO LOVES SNEAKERS Collection” presented by YAMAOTOKO FOOTGEAR / underpass.
In commemoration of this collab, a solo interview with GP, who has done collab with overseas brands, shops and appeared in many sneaker media.

Please introduce yourself.
Hello, my name is Ghica Popa. I am an artist.

What made you become an artist?
I grew up in an artistic environment and I’ve been drawing since I remember.
My mother was an artist and an art teacher. She had this studio named “The imagination studio”, were she used to teach kids the basics of creativity and various art techniques. I remember spending there most of my childhood, playing, building robots from various leftovers, shuffle throw art books, drawing a lot, listening to music and making various clay animals. I thought I was playing, but I learned so much.
Later, I went to study at the local Art high school in my seaside home town. After graduation, I continued my art studies in Bucharest, at the Art University. After this point, I had no choice but becoming an artist. : )

Your art is very unique, what inspire your creativity?
Many things, places and people inspire me. Tokyo is one of them.
I am also inspired but a lot of things I enjoyed as a kid (and still do), like 80’s science-fiction movies, various cartoon and comic books, Lego sets, “boxy” cars and machines.

Which are the difficulties and the joys in the process of creating?
Oh, there are many joys, and sometimes, yes, some difficulties.
But for me, the main source of joy is seeing people really enjoying my art and the products I create in my collaborations. This truly gives me a sense of purpose and makes those difficulties, that I sometimes encounter, seem small and insignificant.

Which are the brands that you worked with in the past?
I ‘ve been lucky enough to work with many brands: I did several projects with Nike, had a capsule collection made with DC Shoes, I also worked with Jeff Staple, Casio G-shock, Monster Energy, Bic, Grolsch and a few selected sneaker stores from around the world. I also collaborated with many sneaker magazines and news websites like Sneaker Freaker, Complex, Hypebeast, Highsnobiety and Sneaker News.

Which collab was the most impressive to you and why?
One of my favourite collaboration is the AF1 solo show made in Tokyo with you guys and Privilege store. I really enjoyed my time in Tokyo at that time and you all have been so nice to me. The energy around that project was fantastic!

Another project that I really like is the Nike Milan one, where I made a collectibles collection just for the main Nike Milan store, for the launch of the AM 720 model.

How did you find out about our YAMAOTOKO shop from Tokyo?
I have worked a project with Lafayette Japan: made a small capsule collection for the launch of their New York store. About a year later, Jun from Lafayette, which is a very nice guy and a fan of my drawing style, got in touch again, as he saw some sneaker customisation I posted on social media. He told me about this idea of making a customisation show with me, at his Privilege store, in collaboration with the oldest sneaker store in Tokyo: Yamaotoko. So we quickly planed everything and after two months I was ion Tokyo, doing that show and meeting all of you guys. And I already mentioned in my previous answer that this turned to be one of my favourites projects ever. : )

What’s your impression for Tokyo and Ueno?
I am absolutely in love with Tokyo, it is my favourite city in the world. From my first visit here I had this feeling of comfort and familiarity, like being at home. And I found this somehow surprising, as Tokyo is not exactly similar to most European cities.
I visited Ueno before I met you guys, but I truly enjoyed and discovered the area when you guys showed me around. I tried to remembered as much as I could from those moments when I started working on our new project. I tried to translate my Tokyo and Ueno memories in the drawings I made for our new collaboration.

How did this collab with YAMAOTOKO happened?
Last year, we were planing of making a big project in 2020, probably in the summer, around the time of the Olympics.
Unfortunately, because of the virus, we had to rescale and rethink the project.
I am happy with the result of this new project, but I am so sorry I won’t be able to be in Tokyo, at the actual launch of the collection.

Any plans for future projects?
Many plans, including projects I had to postpone this year. One of them is wood-sneaker sculptures show, that was supposed to happen in the spring of 2020, in Milan.
I am also planning bigger things in Tokyo, hopefully for 2021 and a few other projects, but I can’t say more at this point : )
And yes, maybe you will see a Yamaotoko collaboration also in 2021. : )

Please give a message to the sneaker lovers in Japan.
Wear your favourites sneakers!
Also I want to thank my Japanese fans. I really hope they will enjoy this collection.

Thank you very much.
Looking forward to see you in Japan

This collection will be available from 22 August 2020.

We will introduce the lineup from the link below.