A pair of custom-made, hand painted shoes can cost quite a lot of money in vintage and specialty stores. Take the more inexpensive route and paint shoes yourself. With a little bit of talent and some specialty paint markers, you can turn an old pair of sneakers into some crazy kicks. You may want to practice on a piece of fabric or leather of similar texture, or a spare pair of old shoes, before attempting to turn your favorite shoes into works of art. Although you can use just about any type of marker to draw on your shoes, not all will be waterproof, fade resistant, and have a smooth application.
Painting on shoes originated around the same time that graffiti paint markers became popular as an alternative to spray paint in the 1990s. Now that specialized markers were being used, almost anything could be tagged with graffiti, including shoes. Before the popularization of paint pens, spray paint could be used to imprecisely design shoes, as well as Sharpie and ballpoint pen. Both Sharpie and ballpoint pen, however, were prone to fading, even though they were able to provide the detail that spray paint couldn't.
Different types of paint pens that work on shoes include pens designed for clothing, pens designed for graffiti, and pens designed for leather. Angelus leather paint is widely recognized as the best markers to use when customizing leather sneakers. Shoes always look best when they are originally white. This way, the color of the paint will not be mixed with any other base colors on the sneakers. Angelus leather paint markers come in standard, neon, and metallic colors and are water-resistant. For waterproof, durable shoes, an acrylic finisher can be painted or sprayed onto the sneakers.
Leather paint markers like Angelus are available only at specialty art stores, graffiti stores, or on the Internet. Some stores may require that you be 18 in order to purchase paint markers, and others may keep their markers behind a glass case. This is for the safety of individuals who may want to purchase the markers in bulk, in order to huff the chemical fumes that these markers emit. Do not let these security measures keep you from purchasing the markers you need to create your shoe designs. Explain to the salesperson that you are doing an art project that requires more than one marker to complete the project.
Angelus leather paint markers can also be used on leather pants, furniture, light-colored dress shoes, leather bags, and other items made of leather or faux leather. If you would like to paint shoes that are not leather, fabric markers such as Fabrico Dual Tip Fabric Markers and Molotow Markers. If you would like to paint shoes that are made of a material other than leather or fabric, the Uni Posca Extra Broad Line Marker is a waterproof marker designed for plastic, wood, glass, and other materials.
Use paint markers only in a well-ventilated area. Place newspaper over your work surface, as most paint markers are permanent. Do not breathe or inhale paint markers. Keep all paint markers out of the way of children. Let paint on shoes dry for at least 48 hours before wearing or washing. Apply a spray or paint sealant over dry coat of paint to keep the colors from bleeding or fading. If you are under 18, do not attempt to purchase paint markers.