Sweet Kicks: Interview with a Custom Painted Shoes Crafter

" All the things I do I try to make personal for the customer. I want each pair to be unique"
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You’ve seen those sweet custom painted shoes around sporting everything from Aquaman to Invader Zim – but those shoes kick up a lot of questions:

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How do you get into shoe painting?

How long do these wearable artworks last?

Do shoe painters run into IP conflicts?

Lauren joined us from Miss Soups Shop on Etsy, where she creates custom painted shoes and cases, to answer those questions and more!

How did you get into painting pop-culture inspired shoes?

Lauren: I started painting shoes after I saw online other people had done some pretty awesome things with shoes and I just thought it was something I could easily do. Then when a bunch of people really liked the Invader Zim shoes I did for myself, and told me I should sell them, I started my Etsy shop.

Are fans excited to be able to get something from you that isn’t available commercially?

Lauren: I’ve definitely had a couple people contact me about shoes that they couldn’t get anywhere but from a custom order. I even had someone contact me about a mug, which I will start working on after graduation. And all the things I do I try to make personal for the customer. I want each pair to be unique.

What is your most popular product?

Lauren: Painted shoes are the most common thing I do. Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time specifically is a very popular choice.

Are you concerned about the stability of your shop in light of legal licensing rights to the games and shows you feature in your work?

Lauren: Of course I’m a little concerned, but this isn’t my main source of income. I view this as fan art that I provide for people who can create it themselves. And a hand painted custom order just feels a bit more special than a commercially made item. It kind of opens up a whole new area of the fan community. A new way to interact.

What is your response to the sentiment that people who create products based on an IP they don’t license have no right to complain if they are asked to Cease & Desist?

Lauren: I feel they do have a right to complain. Some people may use this as their main source of income. To me it’s more I am sharing my love of the craft with someone else’s love of a game or show in a way that isn’t available commercially.

Any great stories about being a crafter that you’d like to share?

Lauren: I started my shop in October of last year and since then I’ve had great experiences with people asking questions and ordering shoes. People are very patient and excited about their orders. I keep in touch with them so they know exactly what is going on with their order even going as far to send in process photos. It’s been a great time working with new people and getting to see what other people fangirl/fanboy about. Their fandom is my inspiration and I hope to keep making art they’ll enjoy.

Is it safe to wear painted shoes in the rain?

Lauren: I apply two coats of Varnish to my shoes after they are done and dried so they *should* be alright in the rain. I’ve worn mine a couple of times in the rain and they appear to be pretty good still. I added the varnish to them though several months after they were finished and had been worn a lot.

Does the paint crack where the shoe flexes?

Lauren: I have only had one pair where the paint peeled/cracked a little bit. I’m not sure why those are the only pair I’ve heard any problems with. I am going to fix those shortly. (They were a birthday present for my brother) Though it is a possibility because the acrylic paint just sticks on top of the fabric, I’d buy the paint that soaks into the fabric but at the moment it is not financially possible.

How long does an average pair last?

Lauren: It varies depending on how much you wear them and in what conditions you are wearing them in. It is art that is being painted on shoes so buyers should be aware that with wear there is a chance the color will fade.

How should people take care of their painted shoes?

Lauren: I would recommend wiping them down with a damp cloth if they get particularly dirty. I definitely wouldn’t through them in a washing machine. That would be very hard on the art and probably cause some damage to it. In the end this a custom painting done for you just on an wearable canvas.

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Amy White
Former Editor in Chief at GameSkinny. I am the Gray Fox. Questions, comments, feedback? Bring it. Amy.White (at) GameSkinny.com