Soldier Interview

A collaboration doesn’t always require two brands. For the first time, DUKE + DEXTER replaces an artist’s cotton canvas with the vamp of our Wilde Penny Loafer. Inviting a new take on our signature style.

Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria - Leonard Iheagwam, a.k.a. Soldier, is one of the most exciting faces to be found around London’s modern art scene. A multi-talented creative who works against the grain by selling artwork directly through social media.

Pulling together camouflage, skateboarding and the idea of hiding things in plain sight.

Creating contemporary art that he wants to live around. Ahead of our collaborative Wilde Penny Loafer launch, it made sense to catch up with Soldier and understand more about his work. His life outside of the canvas. His inspirations. And, why the Wilde Penny Loafer just makes sense.

When you think of multi-disciplinary creatives, we can’t imagine that skateboarding and modelling cross paths with putting a brush to canvas very often. In Soldier’s case, that’s where you’re wrong.

D+D: Soldier! Telling us a bit about yourself - where does the name Soldier come from? Why camouflage?

SOLDIER: I am an artist, I paint, I sculpt and I design. My obsession with camouflage and the name soldier was inspired by my upbringing. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. There was a lot of political and civil unrest, a lot of military everywhere. There was this one rule that no civilian was allowed to wear camouflage. I started painting camouflage to break this rule, as breaking rules symbolises freedom, then my obsession with several military elements began, as a way to take something so violent and transform it into something beautiful.

D+D: This may be a camouflage specific question, but does your artistic style bear a specific name?

SOLDIER: Not that I know of. I mix a lot of art styles. Maybe some shit like “Camo-Expressionism”. I do not know.

D+D: Take us back to Lagos. At what point did you realise that Soldier was destined to find acclaim on an international scale?

SOLDIER: I never cared about acclaim, I just like making beautiful shit with the camouflage print on it. I love rewriting context, I love changing things and putting my own twist on it. This led me to leave home and search for people and places that allowed me to make more stuff.

D+D: If it wasn’t for working with a canvas and paint - where do you see yourself right now?

SOLDIER: I would probably be an engineer or computer scientist. A job that lets me make things, scientifically or artistically.

D+D: Why is it important for us to cast a spotlight over multi-faceted creatives in 2023? Why shouldn’t we limit ourselves to just one craft?

SOLDIER: We need more people who make amazing things, without the limits. Multi-faceted artists do that, they play with different ideas that can probably change the context.

D+D: Is there anyone that you take particular inspiration from at this moment in time? Or anyone that’s doing something special that you’re waiting to blow up?

SOLDIER: Right now I take a lot of inspiration from anything, tiny details, different perspectives and characters. The world is my mood board.

D+D: Why is London’s skater scene so important in preserving our capital’s story?

SOLDIER: I love skateboarding, I started there. I want to always keep it a part of what I do, even when I am not on a board.

D+D: Why does the Wilde Penny Loafer make sense for a Soldier x D+D collaboration?

SOLDIER: Those are some classic timeless shoes. The penny loafers can be used to do anything, but it also looks super smart. It is an object that lets you change the context easily.

D+D: How does your creative style fit in with a silhouette like the Wilde Penny Loafer?

SOLDIER: I like different styles. I can wear a suit today and then go full baggy jeans with a t-shirt tomorrow. The loafers remind me of the suit-wearing, elegant side of me.

D+D: So, you’ve told us about what has been, what is happening - but, what’s up next for Soldier?

SOLDIER: Everything, I just want to conquer everything. I just want to make everything.