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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Local artist delves into the abstract to develop fashion brand
by Vee L. Harrison
2019-01-22

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Jeanette Billips is an artist, a sneakerhead and a lover of Chicago. She's 32-years-old and recently launched a fashion brand, Von Sole, that takes her love for art and Chicago to the next level.

Billups told Windy City Times that the name "Von Sole" comes from part of her middle name ( Von ) and the word "sole" because she's loves sneakers.

"This is abstract art being brought to life through fashion," said Billips. Whether it's shoes, hats, or hoodies, you are wearing art."

Billips' fashion is categorized as urban, but since she draws all of her designs, there is nothing on earth like a Von Sole custom piece. She designs hoodies, jackets, backpacks, pants and shoes. She said when people put on Von Sole, she wants them to feel something special—because her pieces are her own unique art.

"I want them to feel different and I want them to stand out. Not in a way of being loud. But it's not going to be something you say everyday walking down the street," said Billips.

Billips said that she taught herself how to draw over the years by experimenting with abstract art.

"Whether I'm drawing on canvas or wanting to make a mural, you're going to see it. Abstract art is a picture within a picture. It's organic art," said Billips. "Art is limitless. That is why I started this brand. Art is versatile."

Billips have a new line of shirts and hoodies that represent Chicago teams including the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Bulls. She said these items are very receiving to her customers and it's one of the greatest ways to show love to Chicago and her customers.

"Being able to take my love of art and being able to implement that into my love for Chicago—that is so dope to me. I love Chicago. My art represents me, and it also represents Chicago."

Billips was born on the West Side of Chicago and moved to Bellwood, a nearby suburb, during grade school. She remembers loving to color when she was only five and has memories of her sister teaching her how to color within the lines.

"Growing up, we used to have coloring contests in school. I'll always win those contests," she said. "I literally had to disqualify myself from coloring contests to let other friends win."

From childhood to a growing teen, she remembers being in high school at Proviso West in Hillside. Billips said her love for drawing became a side hustle while in high school. She said she lost count of the amount of times she drew pictures for friends.

"I'd have friends who would request that I drew things for them all the time," she said. "I'd start to charge money for my art and became popular during that.

"No matter what, I love my city. There is no other place like it. To be able to sit down and create custom fashion that people in my city loves means a lot to me."

Von Sole is a brand that Billips hopes turns into a lifestyle for the world. Her fashion pieces are colorful, and unique. Since she does many of her designs based on abstract art, nothing looks the same. From the colors that she chooses that are affiliated with the city to the urban look that resembles the Chicago streets, Billips carefully incorporates who she is and where she is from in her fashion.

"To be able to look around the different murals and form that love for art and colors, it's always been about making my art about my city," she said.

My art will never be about a dollar. It's cool knowing that people are wearing my styles that I drew. Those styles came from my pen. Knowing that means a lot.

Billips said Von Sole is only growing and becoming an even bigger brand because of her support. She acknowledged her friends and family that support her brand, her art, and most of all her dream. She said her family is her "backbone."

She added, "I want to have something from me and mine. I never just wanted to work a nine-to-five. I don't look at Von Sole as work. This is my passion."

To purchase pieces and learn more about the brand, visit VonSole.com


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