Sneaker Customization: Tips & Techniques Unlocked
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Select the right sneakers
  2. Choose your customization tools
  3. Prepare the sneakers for customization
  4. Apply your design
  5. Seal and protect your customization
  6. Care for your customized sneakers
  7. Tips for a successful customization
  8. Inspiration for your next customization project

Who doesn't love a fresh pair of sneakers? But wouldn't it be more fun if we could add a dash of personal style to them? Welcome to the world of sneaker art. It's not just about having a cool pair of kicks; it's about expressing individuality, creativity, and passion. This blog will guide you through the process of transforming your ordinary sneakers into wearable pieces of art. Let's get started!

Select the right sneakers

Before you even pick up a paintbrush, you need to choose the right canvas — and in the world of sneaker art, your canvas is your pair of sneakers. Not all sneakers are created equal when it comes to customization. Here's what you should consider:

  • Type of Sneaker: Some forms of sneaker art, such as painting or drawing, work best on flat, smooth surfaces. Canvas sneakers, like Vans or Converse, are often the go-to choice for this reason. Leather sneakers can also be a good option, but they may require more preparation.
  • Color: Light-colored sneakers, particularly white or beige, usually provide the best backdrop for your designs. Darker colors can limit your color choices and may require multiple layers of paint to show up well.
  • Size: Think about the size of your design. If you're planning a detailed piece of sneaker art, you might want a high-top sneaker with more surface area to work on.

Remember, the smoother and cleaner the sneaker, the easier it will be to apply your design. The world of sneaker customization is vast and varied, so choose a pair that suits your artistic vision and get ready to create your very own wearable art!

Choose your customization tools

Now that you've selected your sneaker canvas, the next step in your sneaker art journey is to gather your tools. The right tools make a world of difference and can turn a good design into a great one. Here's a handy guide to help you choose:

  • Paints: Acrylic paints are the most commonly used for sneaker art. They're versatile, easy to control, and come in a wide range of colors. Brands like Angelus and Jacquard offer paints specifically designed for fabric and leather.
  • Brushes: A good set of brushes is crucial. You'll need a variety of sizes for different details. It's also a good idea to have a few flat brushes for larger areas and round brushes for finer details.
  • Markers: Paint markers can be a great alternative to brushes, especially for more intricate designs. They offer precision and control, and are perfect for outlining and adding details. Brands like Posca and Sharpie have a good selection of colors.
  • Stencils: If you're not confident in your freehand skills, stencils can be a lifesaver. They can help you create clean, precise designs and patterns on your sneakers.

Remember, practice makes perfect. So grab your tools and start experimenting. You'll soon discover what works best for you and your sneaker art masterpiece.

Prepare the Sneakers for Customization

Preparing your sneakers correctly is like laying the foundation for a house — it's a critical step that ensures your sneaker art will look its best and last as long as possible. Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Clean your sneakers: Before you start painting, make sure your sneakers are squeaky clean. Dirt or oils can prevent the paint from adhering properly. Use a soft brush and a mild detergent to gently scrub the surface. Rinse them thoroughly and let them dry completely.
  2. Remove the laces: It's much easier to paint your sneakers if you remove the laces first. Plus, you won't have to worry about getting paint on them. Don't worry — you can always give your laces a makeover later if you want!
  3. Sand the surface (if necessary): If you're working with leather sneakers, you may want to lightly sand the surface. This can help the paint stick better. But remember — be gentle! You don't want to damage the material.
  4. Mask off areas: Use painter's tape to mask off any areas you don't want to paint, like the soles or logos. This will give you a clean, professional-looking finish.

With your sneakers prepped and ready, you're one step closer to creating your custom sneaker art. Take a deep breath, envision your design, and get ready to bring it to life!

Apply Your Design

Now for the real fun part — transforming your plain sneakers into a canvas for your sneaker art. This is where your creativity truly shines. Here's a simple guide to applying your design:

  1. Sketch your design: Before you dive in with paint, it's a good idea to sketch out your design. You can draw directly onto the sneakers using a light pencil, or you can create a paper template. This will give you a clear path to follow when applying your paint.
  2. Start with the base color: It's usually best to start with your base color, which is the main color of your design. Use a paintbrush to apply a thin layer of paint. Be patient and take your time — sneaker art is not a race!
  3. Add details and highlights: Once your base color is dry, you can start to add in the details and highlights. This could be anything from intricate patterns to bold lines or even a splash of glitter. Remember, this is your design, so make it as simple or as elaborate as you want!
  4. Let it dry: When you're happy with your design, let the paint dry completely. This usually takes a few hours, but it can vary depending on the type of paint you're using. It's worth the wait though — you don't want to risk smudging your masterpiece!

There you have it — you're not just a sneaker owner, but a sneaker artist. But we're not done yet. The next step is to seal and protect your work, which is just as vital as creating it.

Seal and Protect Your Customization

So, you've created an awesome piece of sneaker art. Congrats! But before you hit the pavement in your new kicks, there's one more step — protection. Here's how you can seal and safeguard your design:

  1. Choose the right sealer: Not all sealers are created equal. For sneaker art, you want something that's flexible and won't crack or yellow over time. Acrylic sealers are a great choice for this.
  2. Apply the sealer: Using a clean brush, apply a thin layer of your chosen sealer over your design. Ensure you cover all painted areas, but try to avoid the soles or any rubber parts of the shoe.
  3. Let it dry: Like with the paint, you'll need to give the sealer ample time to dry. This could take anywhere from a few hours to overnight, depending on the sealer used.
  4. Apply additional coats: For added protection, consider applying multiple coats of sealer. Just remember to let each coat dry fully before applying the next one.

And there you have it — your sneaker art is now ready to make its public debut! But remember, even with a sealer, your sneakers aren't invincible. They still need proper care to maintain their fresh-from-the-studio look.

Care for Your Customized Sneakers

Even the Mona Lisa needed a little TLC. Similarly, your sneaker art will require some care to keep it looking sharp and vibrant. Here are some simple steps to ensure the longevity of your masterpiece:

  1. Avoid harsh conditions: Try to keep your customized sneakers away from harsh weather conditions like heavy rain, mud, or snow. These could damage your design over time.
  2. Clean carefully: If your sneakers must face the inevitable dirt, clean them gently. Use a soft brush or cloth, mild soap, and cold water. Remember, your shoes are now a work of art — treat them as such!
  3. Avoid heavy wear: While your sneakers are meant to be worn and enjoyed, avoid activities that can cause excessive wear or tear, such as sports or hiking. Your sneaker art will thank you!
  4. Store properly: When not in use, store your sneakers in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. This can help prevent color fading and material degradation.

With a bit of attention and care, your sneaker art can keep turning heads for a long time to come. Remember, proper care is the key to keeping your masterpiece in pristine condition.

Tips for a Successful Customization

Sneaker art, like any form of creativity, thrives on experimentation and personal flair. But there are a few tips that can help you navigate the process and achieve successful results.

  1. Plan Ahead: Before you dive into the world of sneaker art, plan your design. Sketch it out on paper, or use design software if you're comfortable with it. This will help you avoid any unwanted surprises during the actual customization process.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect: If you're new to sneaker customization, consider practicing on an old pair of shoes or a piece of leather. This will give you a feel for the materials and techniques without risking a new pair of sneakers.
  3. Patience is Key: Remember, sneaker art isn't a race. Take your time with each step, from preparation to sealing. A rushed job will likely show in the final product.
  4. Experiment: Don't be afraid to try different designs, colors, and techniques. Sneaker art is all about expressing your unique style. What's the worst that could happen? You might just create something extraordinary!

With these tips, you're well on your way to creating sneaker art that's not just unique, but also a reflection of your personal style and creativity. So go ahead, pick up that brush, and let your imagination run wild!

Inspiration for Your Next Customization Project

Every artist needs a muse, and when it comes to sneaker art, there's inspiration all around us. If you're itching to start a new project but not quite sure what direction to take, here are some ideas that might spark your creativity:

  1. Pop Culture: Movies, music, books, and even internet memes can all provide excellent inspiration for sneaker art. Maybe a favorite movie character or a catchy song lyric could be the central theme for your next design?
  2. Nature: From the radiant colors of autumn leaves to the intricate patterns on a butterfly's wings, nature is a treasure trove of design ideas. How about a sneaker design that embodies the tranquility of a forest or the vibrancy of a tropical bird?
  3. Abstract Art: If you prefer something less literal, abstract art could be your go-to. Play around with shapes, colors, and patterns to create a design that's uniquely yours.
  4. Personal Stories: Your own life experiences and memories can serve as meaningful inspiration for your sneaker art. Maybe a trip you took, a person you met, or even a dream you had. Who knows, your sneakers might just end up becoming a wearable storybook!

Remember, the best sneaker art comes from the heart. So don't be afraid to dig deep, find what moves you, and translate that into your next masterpiece. Happy customizing!

If you're passionate about sneaker customization and want to learn more techniques to elevate your craft, check out 'A Deep Dive into Squeegee Art' workshop by Clara Cristina. This workshop will provide you with unique insights and practical tips on how to incorporate squeegee art into your sneaker customization projects, making your designs truly stand out.