Start with a work of art!

Takayuki Matsumine drawing art with a brush

The Wings for Life World Run will take place for the 10th time in 2023. This anniversary warrants special attention. And a very special start number, designed by an extraordinary artist. By whom is for you to decide – by means of voting on Instagram! The choices are Takayuki Matsumine, Flowsofly, and Yan Waligora.

As if the anniversary alone were not good enough a reason to celebrate: At the 10th Wings for Life World Run, all Flagship Run participants will wear a unique work of art for the first time! Unique because the start number will have been designed by an artist who has worked intensively on the idea behind the run for those who can’t run themselves.

However, which of these artists will be picked depends on the entire motivated Instagram community of the Wings for Life World Run. Everyone can vote here from February 23 to March 2, 2023, and help decide what will be worn on May 7, 2023. You can choose from very different designs by Takayuki Matsumine, Flowsofly, and Yan Waligora, three internationally renowned artists from Japan, Austria, and Brazil. But first, let us provide a few insights into the life and work of this creative triumvirate.

Takayuki Matsumine, 37, Japan

Takayuki Matsumine wheelchair portrait © Shingo Nomura

Takayuki Matsumine had great sporting ambitions – until he crashed while freestyle skiing at the age of 16. “A dislocated cervical vertebra and damage to the cervical spine left me unable to move from the shoulders down.” Until then, recalls the 37-year-old Japanese artist, “I lived in the expression of the body. But that life vanished into thin air along with my dreams of competing as a skier on the international stage.”

The repressed wanting to grow

Today Taka, as his friends call him, is a respected artist exhibiting in New York, Tokyo, and Dubai. His art, he says, “should bring people’s hearts to life.” Today, he regards his injury as a great gift, “What is repressed will always want to grow again. To experience new sensations, you need the ability to explore things time and again.”

Takayuki Matsumine serves as an ambassador for the Wing for Life World Run in Japan and regularly competes himself in his wheelchair: “I love this event and lead my own team. In 2022, I reached over 18 kilometers.” He has named his bib design “Nine Feathers and a Miracle.” “The nine feathers represent the first nine runs. The 2023 event will be the tenth feather and contains the message that we want to make a miracle possible.”

Flowsofly, 31, Austria

Flowsofly art drawing © Florence Stoiber

Flowsofly is the name of the Austrian artist, who keeps his identity under wraps: “I put the spotlight on my work. I don’t want the observer’s imagination to be influenced by my persona.” His works are “about studying and celebrating human and interpersonal aspects.”

Restrictions are welcome

Whether with pen or chalk on paper or digitally on a tablet – the design university graduate deliberately sets formal limits for himself with his idea of drawing pictures in a single continuous line wherever possible, “Restrictions are good for an artist. They help you hone your own style.”

In his private life, Flowsofly is an avid athlete and regularly takes part in the Wings for Life World Run: “I used to go to an inclusive kindergarten and came into contact with the issue of spinal cord injuries at a young age.” He conducted research into his start number design by having long conversations with wheelchair users in his community: “It should remain unspecified whether the picture is of one or more people. For me, it’s about the evolution of people who don’t give up even after an accident, but keep going.”

Yan Waligora, 31, Brazil

Yan Waligora Portrait

Yan Waligora comes from the Brazilian metropolis of São Paulo. It was through his love of skateboarding that he became a fan of punk music as a teenager. “The artwork on the skateboards and posters, as well as various record covers, was essential to my development.”

Architecture and graffiti

After that, the now 31-year-old tattoo artist and designer intensively studied architecture: “I started thinking in geometric shapes, paying attention to vanishing point perspective and drawing three-dimensionally. But my most important stylistic device is the stencil, like graffiti artists use.”

His start number design for the Wings for Life World Run features a three-dimensional maze: “It symbolizes the different paths we can choose – and the flow with which we master our lives.” The green as the predominant color is a tribute to his friends from ‘Faca na Cadeira,’ a group of wheelchair athletes. “It was through them that I became aware of Wings for Life – and the hope that this organization radiates. The belief that they can improve the lives of people with spinal cord injury and their families is very inspiring.”

So what the start number will look like on May 7 will be decided by the Wings for Life World Run community. And it’s so simple: Voting will run online on Instagram from February 23, 2023 (11.00 a.m. UTC) to March 2, 2023 (11.00 a.m. UTC). Just pop the name of your favorite artist under the post of the three designs in the comments, and your vote will be counted. Who will win? The result will be officially announced on Instagram on March 7. Until then, we officially wish all three artists good luck!