Shoes have always been an iconic fashion statement. Across several cultures, there is this shared belief that shoes allow us to express our individuality in ways other clothing articles don’t. The shoes we choose can let people know about our hobbies and interests. Sometimes shoes even offer people a sense of community, of being a part of something truly unique. From Nikes to Jordans and even Yeezys, avid collectors or ‘sneakerheads’ will pay good money to have a particular pair of shoes in their collection.
But for some, it’s not about owning the most expensive shoes or the hottest brands. Some people would rather stand out amongst the rest of the crowd and own shoes that are one of a kind. You might wonder, how can anyone own shoes that nobody else has? Well, the answer’s quite simple; you paint your shoes.
Choosing The Right Pair of Shoes
When buying shoes to paint, it’s best not to break the bank by buying anything too expensive. Canvas is one of the most popular styles of shoes, thanks to how affordable they are. But that’s not all; Canvas shoes feature a signature design with a white base and white on the front of the surface. The white surface provides just enough room for artists to get creative and paint unique graphics on their shoes.
If you want to work with a more significant paint job covering the entire shoe, we recommend buying non-name brand white shoes (or these for women or these for men). White shoes are usually the easiest to paint on because the white surface allows the colors to pop vibrantly. In comparison, colored shoes would interfere with the colors you use to paint with. Still, if you have a pair of black shoes you want to try and paint, we recommend using bright neon colors that stand out well against the black surface.
What To Paint on Your Shoes?
What you decide to paint on your shoes is entirely up to you. As we said before, shoes are a tool for self-expression. When deciding what to paint on your shoes, take a second to think about what you’re trying to tell other people about yourself. Perhaps you’d like to recreate one of your favorite art pieces on your shoes, such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night or The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali.
If you’re a comic book fan, perhaps you’d like to paint some of your favorite comic book characters onto your shoes, such as Spider-Man and Iron Man from Marvel Comics or Batman and Superman from DC. Some avid music buffs like to paint the logos of every band they see live in concert on their shoes to commemorate each experience. Maybe you’re a fan of anime so you could recreate a scene from Naruto or Dragon Ball Z on your shoes.
Some artists even go the extra mile, creating a piece of art that starts on one shoe and ends on the other. They’re your shoes, do whatever you think looks the best for you.
How To Paint Your Shoes?
If you’ve never painted a pair of shoes before but want to get involved in the hobby, this guide will teach you everything you need to know to get started. First, you need to know that there is more than just one right way to paint shoes. Understanding which technique best suits you and the shoes you’re working with is essential. Start by figuring out what you hope to achieve. Are you trying to touch up a new pair with minor color details? Or do you want to create a dynamic graphic on an older pair of shoes?
Prepare Your Shoes
Before you paint your shoes, the preparation phase of the process is pretty straightforward, but it’s also essential. If you don’t prepare your shoes properly, the paint might not stick, and you’ll ruin a perfect pair of shoes.
If you’re painting leather shoes, you’ll need to use a deglaze or leather preparer (such as this one found at Amazon). Coat each shoe in a thin layer of either substance and let it set in before you begin painting. The deglaze or preparer should ensure that the paint stays on the leather surface. The process of preparing synthetic shoes is similar, but you need to sand the shoe’s surface first and apply a primer made for synthetic surfaces before applying deglaze to the shoe.
Earlier, we recommended using canvas shoes. One reason is that they are one of the most straightforward shoes to prepare for painting. First, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the surface of your shoes with a dry cloth, making sure to remove all dust and dirt particles. Only wash the surface of each shoe if necessary. If you do, take measures to dry the shoe before you begin the next step.
Next, generously apply primer to the shoe’s surface, and wait for it to set before you move on to the next step. Once the primer has set in, you want to ensure that the soles of your shoes are protected from paint. One of the most common mistakes new artists make is allowing the paint to leak onto the soles of their shoes. The result is that the shoe’s surface looks fantastic, while the bottom half seems completely scuffed. You can safeguard the soles of your shoes by covering them with tape before you begin painting the rest of the body.
Prepare Your Design Beforehand
You might be excited to paint your shoes as soon as possible but don’t be too hasty. You’ll only get one chance to do it right, so instead, create a rough version of your planned design on paper first. That way, you’ll be able to work out all the details before you begin painting and make changes at the moment. Once your design is finalized on paper, you’ll have a reference that you can follow as you paint on your shoes.
Start By Sketching
Next, use your design reference to create a pencil outline on the shoe’s surface. Once the line art is finalized, you can begin inking in the line art with thicker borders before finally painting within the lines. Make sure to use oil-based black markers for the line art so that the ink doesn’t bleed into your paint. A Sharpie will also work just fine when inking in the line art. If you only want to give your shoes a partial paint job while leaving other areas of the shoe unpainted, you can cover the rest of the shoe in tape, and paint around the video, so that paint doesn’t get on the areas you want to keep untouched.
Painting Your Shoes
While painting your sneakers, try not to be too heavy-handed. Painting thin layers will give your art a smoother look and prevent it from drying and cracking. Make sure you follow the curvature of the shoe itself and paint along the curves rather than against them. If you see bubbles forming, pop them before they dry. Otherwise, they can set in permanently and ruin how your shoe looks.
Be sure to use acrylic paint on sneakers, (such as this acrylic paint for canvas shoes or this acrylic paint for leather shoes). Acrylic paint can actually be an excellent choice for sneakers because it isn’t as water-soluble as other conventional paints, and it tends to stay put. Remember to be patient when painting your shoe; allow each layer to dry before painting over it.
Trial and Error
We hope this article was helpful to you. A good paint job takes a lot of practice, if things go wrong the first time, don’t let it get to you, try again, and eventually, you’ll be painting shoes that look better than anything your sneakerhead friends are wearing.