Kaitlyn Riccardi first turned to wearable canvases while she was a student at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture. She started with shoes and has now found her niche in luxury goods. You may have seen Riccardi seated in the entryway of the King of Prussia Mall’s Louis Vuitton store, adding her signature hand-painted touches to the brand’s trunks and boxes.
MLT: What inspired your interest in wearable art?
KR: I’ve been painting my entire life, but I began selling my work in 2014 as a college sophomore. My first big order was for Taco Bell in 2015. It was a pair of painted taco sneakers for a commercial they were shooting.
MLT: What led you to go more upscale?
KR: It was a request from a client. After hand-painting her Converse sneakers, she asked me if I’d paint her Louis Vuitton bag to cover up an old stain on it. It was a fun challenge, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It eventually led me to a position as an artisan painter for Louis Vuitton at King of Prussia Mall.
MLT: There’s a bit of a sustainability aspect, too.
KR: I love to paint on items clients find they’re no longer using to create something they’ll adore. I work closely with them to determine their vision for the piece, and we collaborate to come up with a design.
MLT: Name some of your favorite projects.
KR: I always lean toward floral, botanical and nature-inspired requests. Some of my favorites have involved celebrating a wedding or anniversary by hand-painting the client’s wedding bouquet for a special memory.
MLT: Do you get nervous painting on such pricey items?
KR: It’s funny—you’d totally think so. I go into the project not thinking about the value of the item, but rather the intrinsic value of the artwork going on it. I always make a mockup design first, either hand-drawn or in Photoshop to make any edits prior to painting. I never begin painting until the client absolutely loves the design.