The footwear that a man chooses to wear says a lot about him, or so we’re told. Converse Chuck’s? Vans Chukka’s? We’ve seen them all before. So if you’re looking to break the mould, then look no further than David Blake, a.k.a. HEKStyle’s hand painted trainers.
Having originally honed his skills in Dagenham as a graffiti and canvas artist, David Blake has spent the last three years applying his unique designs to trainers. As a result, he’s built a reputation of England’s top sneaker customisers.
“I’m a fan of having unique trainers and I love to paint, so I just combined the two. I searched for a long time to find out the right process and materials because the last thing I wanted was a half-assed product.”
His patience is paying some serious dividends – after getting good feedback on pairs he’d produced for friends, the orders are coming through thick and fast.
Creating such intricate designs takes time, something which is apparent as David talks through his design process.
“Sometimes I freestyle straight onto the shoes but usually I draw rough ideas on paper. I prep the shoes, build up the layers of paint and draw on the design. Then I’ll paint in the design and add the final touches before clearing up any stray splodges.”
Choosing the right trainers on which to base designs is a key decision. David says that Nike Air Force Ones are the most popular.
“They’re a good base shoe to work with because they have a nice area for pictures and the different sections to break it up with the colour scheme. Any shoe is cool though. I’d like to paint an Air Max One and I have Dunks and Tokis in the bag, waiting to go.”
With one off trainers, the key is creativity – designing something that stands out, that nobody else has. A solid background in different types of art as well as an increasing reputation for trainer designs means that David’s clients trust his judgement.
“When people place an order I ask for a general theme for the shoes. Sometimes I get sent pictures and instructions but the majority just provide a detail and I’ll come up with designs for them to look through. Most customers ask for my direction on their idea. They trust me to come up with something they’ll love and I haven’t had any complaints.”
Previous designs based on Michael Jackson, Jessie J and Tim Westwood would suggest that music is a big influence on David’s work.
“I listen to a range of music, from rock to UK grime – anything that gets my brain ticking over with ideas” he says, before adding that he is “on an indie alternative rock vibe right now”.
So having produced bespoke designs influenced by everything from music to cartoon characters, which is he most proud of?
“It’s tough to choose. The Pennywise Nikes were pretty insane but my favourites are probably the Call of Duty SAS Nikes I did – I like the colour way and the red dot sights from the guns.”
Follow David on Twitter: @HEKStyle and follow his blog here, or catch his designs as they happen on his Youtube channel: youtube.com/hekstyle
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