Pitter Patter Is Putting One Foot In Front Of The Other
The Brooklyn-based artist is finding creative independence in making new cultural artifacts that relate to personal style, identity, and the era of self-commodification.
For Issue 04: Hacking It, Byline teamed up with Urban Outfitters and Dickies to highlight individuals who have paved their own paths and unlocked new levels in their respective industries. These creators defy the system by making their own rules, and in other words, they're Hackers.
I walked up the street on a crisp autumn afternoon to find Levi Pitters, the artist known as Pitter Patter, perched on a stoop outside of his Bushwick studio. He was wearing a striped button-down shirt and matching necktie, with a pair of red-framed glasses sitting on the bridge of his nose. After walking through a long corridor of artist studios filled with curtains, spray paint canisters and cardboard, we found our way into a well-lit, equally crowded space in the back—one that Levi shares with his longtime friend Gabriel Rozzell. The room was filled with paintings and post-it notes, bags of plywood, to-do lists, and legs—lots and lots of legs.
Gleaning what you can from the internet, it’s apparent that Levi is equipped with a peculiar sense of humor. He has a brazen way of ingesting culture, experimenting with materials, and moving about the world. The 26-year-old budding artist is perhaps best known for his ongoing series of sculptures called Boot-legs: design objects that feature nothing more than shoes and calves, fixed to a small, round table top. The (quite literal) table legs are dressed in pants—leopard print, camouflage, khakis, denim, or slacks—and, most often, the feet will don a pair of sneakers, boots, or loafers. The flat surface atop the legs might even represent a torso: upholstered fabric stretches over the cushion, fashioned like overalls or t-shirts.
Levi grew up in Portland, Oregon, surrounded by his parents’ friends—a community of eccentric artists and creatives. “I think I was making and selling my first paintings when I was around 8,” Levi tells me, “My mom ran an arts market in the basement of a bar, so I would make paintings and sell them there.” His wandering interests led him to study fashion design at Oregon State. He had an internship on the set of Portlandia, working with their costume designer, and dropped out of school shortly before making the move to New York in 2018 to pursue film work full time. He taught himself woodworking, prototyping different designs, and learning skills from other friends in the studio—fellow transplants from the Pacific Northwest.
Levi took on numerous gigs with film studios before leaving the industry to focus full-time on creating his artwork. He salvaged construction plywood and scrap fabrics from film sets to make some of his earliest (and most haphazard) tables. The first piece he made in the series was actually based on the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. But it was his last job in Bethpage, Long Island that would catalyze how the Boot-leg sculptures found their way into the public conscience. The role required him to use a company rental car to deliver props and costumes. By night, he’d drive to different locations around the city and put up site-specific installations of his work.
“I made almost a hundred tables in a year,” he tells me. “In 2021, I was making a bunch of these, and I just found myself with 30 tables stacked on the shelf in my studio. I was like, ‘What do I do with these?’ I decided to put QR codes on them and go out in the middle of the night and drill them into walls.” By anyone else’s standards, this may not seem like an obvious solution—but for Levi Pitters, it just made sense.
As he continued to post the tables and their respective locations on Instagram, he gradually amassed a following, attracting an audience from different corners of the New York scene. It was like a dog whistle luring those curious enough to hear its frequency. Everyone from @stoopingnyc to Gucci took notice of the lower limbs strewn across the city: Williamsburg. Soho. Washington Square Park. Part of Levi’s impulse for sharing the Boot-legs so publicly was simply to get the works out there—to place them somewhere that random people could directly encounter them. “Do I have a gallery show? Do I sell them? I didn't want to make funny TikTok videos,” Levi mused, “I didn't want to beg people to buy my art or anything. I just wanted them to see it.”
Eventually, he did get the opportunity to exhibit his legs. In summer 2023, three of Levi’s pieces were included in a group auction called Just Phriends, and exhibited at Perrotin in Paris. Co-curated by Pharrell and Sarah Andelman, the exhibition included a compendium of contemporary fashion, art, and design pieces that collectively define the cultural evolution of the past few decades. Levi chose to show a recreation of three of Pharrell’s iconic outfits from 2002, 2014, and 2022, using a pair of the star’s personal Adidas superstars for one of the pieces. The cross-genre pieces encompass portraits, furniture, and fashion all at once.
Having created more than 130 Boot-legs sculptures over the last few years (each carefully stamped and numbered), Levi has now embarked on a new endeavor called I AM THE TABLE. He began the series with his own legs, featuring his characteristic ROA hiking boots and vintage Levi’s denim, topped with a custom hoodie he made with his friend Andy Martinez. In what he calls his most ambitious project yet, Levi plans to spend the next year working with 50 different New York creatives to immortalize a moment of their life in a table. Each of the legs delineates different aspects of an artist’s character or persona. He recreated his studio mate’s uniform, and Andy Martinez’s iconic hand-sewn cowboy boots made with Air Force 1s, and he has plans for many, many more.
Born into the selfie generation and bored of the oversaturated influencer aesthetic, Levi is focusing on something different. “There’s so much focus on people’s faces nowadays, but what do a person’s legs say about them? The tables are like a portrait—but of a part of your body you don’t think about or photograph very often, which I find amusing.” We also joked about the concept of the “ghost outfit” (which may have or may not have been popularized by Vanderpump Rules). A ghost outfit is emblematic of your personhood. It’s an outfit that a person wears so often, or that so accurately embodies their character, that you can be sure it’s what they’d be wearing eternally if they came back as a ghost.
The I AM THE TABLE SERIES tugs at the idea of a ghost outfit. It becomes a portrait of a person through symbolic materials and details: paint-splattered denim, mud-slapped shoelaces, or bold, chunky soles. The works gesture toward what someone would be wearing if you ran into them on the street, but they’ve also become a cultural excavation: a snapshot of everyday fashion and culture in the early 2020s. “I love thinking about how these pieces will age over time—like 10, 20, 50 years from now, and there’s this table that represents this artist early in their career.”
By now, we’ve all been ingratiated into an era of self-commodification. We spend our days seeking out shareable experiences. The intentional artifice of showcasing our mannerisms, purchases, and bodies online has become a conscious driving force of self-dom. Despite his rapidly growing follower-base, and recent opportunities with massive brands like Adidas and Gucci, Levi is staying grounded. He’s well aware of the persona-creation and sense of stage that becomes part of the lifecycle of the object (and, by extension, its creator). “I think a lot about the algorithm and people shaping their identity to fit the algorithm,” he says, “But I also think that doing something your own way and being true to what you are—or just doing something different—will seep through eventually. It just takes time.”