An urban farm in Harlem used its produce to paint sneakers in first work from agency Tall Poppy

Six New York artists transformed Air Force 1 sneakers into works of art with paint made from Harlem Grown okra, beets, spinach and more

Published On
May 03, 2024
Sneakers painted with pigments from produce

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Art and agriculture merge in an earthy new campaign for an urban New York City farm—created by Tall Poppy, a new creative studio founded by Karsten Jurkschat and Alex Little, whose prior work has included AT&T’s 5G-connected helmet.

An exhibition on Thursday night featured one-of-a-kind sneakers painted by six New York artists using pigments extracted from real produce—okra, beets, spinach and more—grown on Harlem Grown farms.

The sneakers will now be available for purchase via a three-week online auction at, with proceeds supporting Harlem Grown’s mission to provide access to fresh, healthy food and educational programming for children and families in Harlem.

“Harlem Grown continues to evolve as an organization,” said Nicole Engel, executive director. “Providing spaces for artistic expression is having a profound impact on what we do, and is expanding our commitment to empowering the Harlem community.”

The artists involved in the project were Laolu Senbanjo, Lisa Whittington, Adrian Brandon, Whitney House, Lyne Lucien and Alex Caidor.

A Harlem Grown painted sneaker

A Harlem Grown painted sneaker

A Harlem Grown painted sneaker

A Harlem Grown painted sneaker

A Harlem Grown painted sneaker

Tall Poppy was founded around the concept of what the founders call “creative sustainability.” Jurkschat and Little, who’ve spent time at agencies including Translation, McCann New York and Ogilvy, told Ad Age the idea is that successful brands of the future will embrace quality over quantity in their communications—making less work that matters more.

“The presumptive situation for most agencies is, ‘Let’s get a client and make as much work as possible’—with kind of mixed results,” said Jurkschat. “The era we’re moving into with AI means anyone can make a lot of work very quickly. The industry, in our minds, is going to be like fast fashion. You can create a lot for a cheaper price, and the quality drops. We’re taking a step back and going, let’s create less work but more quality pieces.”


Sustainability is normally used in a eco sense, but Little said it applies to the economics of creativity as well. Like many agency startups these days, Tall Poppy is positioning itself as largely a project agency where clients have access to the senior creatives.

“It’s being more thoughtful with less wastage,” he said. “That comes down through everything. Meetings with 30, 40 people—that’s not creative sustainability. Smaller groups, better relationships with clients, less layers—it’s stuff new agencies have talked about forever, but we’re taking it to the extreme and giving it a wrapper that is really easy to understand.”

Tall Poppy’s other current clients include Air Company (which Andrew McKechnie, fomer chief creative officer at Verizon, recently joined as head of marketing), and FamilyTreeDNA, a geneology company.


May 03, 2024
Client :
Harlem Grown
Agency :
Tall Poppy

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