DEMETRIUS C. MENSAH. from EYES & EDGE on Vimeo.It’s an uncomfortably hot July day in Portland when we get a sneak peek into Demetrius Mensah’s world. Stepping into the basement of his northeast studio, the man also known as Chauncey White, shows us where he perfects his craft. In this short amount of time he reveals just how big his visions are and what drives him. With the summer months giving more of a nod towards patio parties and rooftop bars, this might be the hardest season to stay in the productive state of mind, but he is an exception.[Chauncey White has become an alter ego for Demetrius. The name was randomly attached to his employee number at Adidas but there is no Chauncey White in the system, so he adopted the identity of this mysterious name.]In Chauncey’s world, being a kid is a necessity in today’s society. Everyone strives to be grown up and mature, for reasons that stupefy him. This creates an atmosphere where people become lost, searching for things that resonate with them but ultimately do not speak to their true self. He defines a recurring trend of ‘squad this, squad that’, or mindlessly flocking to what everyone is doing, like an infectious virus. To combat this, he keeps distances from the hype and squads, which allows his imagination to run free. Allowing himself to never get looped in or portray anything that isn’t genuine to him.Starting from his childhood, his parents prioritized school over socializing. Demetrius’ father immigrated from Ghana and emphasized hard work and education. As the youngest of three brothers he always sought love and attention. This did not transpire well in school though, attributing to some rugged moments.Being the odd one out seemed like a daily routine. He was aggressively picked on at school and went through his fair share of childhood hardships. One day in particular the harassment was too much. After school he found himself in the family kitchen with a knife pressed to his wrist. After almost taking his own life at the young age of 11, the only thought that saved him was an image of a shoe drawing. In that moment he decided to drop the knife to go draw. The omen he experienced that day sent him to a world where he was a king - drawing designs and creating footwear, controlling every line with no one to harass or disturb him. Tunnel vision took over and sent him to a creative bliss where nothing could interrupt his focus. Naturally, a first step in understanding any object is to disassemble and get an idea how it’s built from the ground up. Taking apart his first pair of shoes took a lot longer than expected. Several things didn’t work and trial and error became the only way. When he finally accomplished his goal, he knew the fun had just begun. Gradually he yearned for more freedom with the shoe. A simple color switch wouldn’t satisfy this urge to customize. That’s when he began to learn the intricacies of his craft. The resulting step was reconstructing the shoe and meticulously tweaking every element.The creativity and imagination that emerged at that point in his life has everything to do with the man he is now. The blissful little world he created at age 11 has stuck with him over the years, allowing him to be a kid as an adult. Highlighting the necessity to maintain a child-like mentality; free of hype and society's defects in today’s overly adultish world. While the rest of society is constantly over saturated and obsessed with pop culture and fashion, Demetrius is able to navigate the the hype and stay above the clouds. What continues to drive his inspiration? His family. Each person in his family has a unique purpose and meaning. For example, Joseph, the second oldest brother, has been the biggest hero. He suffered from severe scoliosis and the surgery resulted in two metal rods inserted into his back, devastated at the news that he would never wrestle again. Amazingly he blazes through the rehab process, and in a blink of an eye he’s a wrestling captured the title of conference champion and now is a police officer. He’s living out his dreams and knocking down walls of adversity. Everyone goes through their fair share but it’s how we process it and end up using it to our advantage that really defines who we are as a person. Demetrius’ life is a self-described never-ending render, where perfecting skills again and again is the criteria. Reaching maximum potential in innovation is the goal while staying grounded in the progress that has already been accomplished.Demetrius sums up his experience behind a craft that some might not understand completely: ‘It’s so much deeper than sketching and customizing shoes. It’s changing and creating a shift. Inspiring somebody. When someone wears a pair, it’s the only pair like that in the world’. We’re excited to see when he arrives to the top and his journey to get there.
EYES & EDGE