The 6 Worst Parts of Starting Out as a Shoe Artist

The 6 Worst Parts of Starting Out as a Shoe Artist

"Your business should support your life; your life shouldn't spin around your business." -Anthony Kiedis, lead singer Red Hot Chili Peppers

We hope to empower custom sneaker artists going it alone. If you're starting out as a shoe artist, each day is a battle: getting paints, thrifting shoes, client follow-up, client invoicing, and actually sitting down to paint the shoes themselves.

Here are the common pain points you may be experiencing as you grow your business, brand, and network on social media.  

1. People Only See the Finished Product

"We often see the completed images, but we never think to question what it took to complete the final product. In the struggle, there lies a story." -Tony Hawk  

paint on your hands

2. Creating Exclusivity 

Kicks, sneakers, and shoes - whatever you call them - the community that buys them is in love with exclusivity. If you can give them something they've never seen before (something that doesn't deviate too far from the norm, mind you) you may be in for a pleasant surprise!

the shoe surgeon

To become better at hype we recommend learning marketing, social media marketing, or going all-in on crafting better artistry skills. We've heard good things about The Shoe Surgeon School 

3. Order Cancellations

Your kicks might look fly, but when you're dealing with people online, accountability and good manners can fly out the window.

cancel my order

Online, people are more safe doing unethical things. Veiled under the shroud of anonymity that the internet provides, people are liable to cancel their orders. To remedy this, charge upfront. Charging upfront - for cost of paints, shoe, and cost of your time is what all the top artists in shoe customization do. (If you're not there yet in terms of confidence and business experience, at least charge half upfront.)  

4. Your Portfolio Sucks

Part of the reason you're having invoicing issues, and problems with clients cancelling their orders is partly because you haven't proven yourself to the market yet. By learning how to showcase your work - via video, via high quality photos - you will stand out. Having a better portfolio gives you the leverage you need to have that tough conversation with a new client, and charge upfront. 

you miss 100% of the canvases you don't paint

>>If you're good we want to sponsor you! To see if Leather Care Supply will sponsor you as an artist, e-mail Gary at

gm [at] leathercaresupply [dot] com   

Here are just some of the artists we're sponsoring with paint supplies:

5. Logistics

Business Insider says Amazon has a warehouse within 20 miles of each person in the United States, meaning they can ship out their product within 1 day if they if they needed to. You have a Pay Pal account with $127.00 in it and a bad relationship with the lady at the Postal Service Office. 

Logistics include shipping and handling, returns, and driving to and driving from places where you do your business (i.e. thrift stores, paint supply stores). 

People change their mind. That doesn't make them bad people. But we know the pain associated with trying to find a buyer for a size 13 shoe that you just painted up. The game is "custom" for a reason, unfortunately. That's why it's critical that you stay up to date with the latest information, grow your portfolio, and grow your Instagram follower count by making strategic partnerships. 

To save on logistics costs try Leather Care Supply's online store. We have Angelus paints, acrylic dye, and a return policy that doesn't penalize you. 

6. Managing the Business

This includes everything from client retention, invoicing, billing, accounting, social media management, website updates, and everything else. 

The best artists know how to separate the Business mind from the Creative mind, and carve out bits of their time, dedicating time to each. When you're at work on a sneaker, nothing should interrupt your flow - unless its something important like a client invoice or order. 

In time, you will learn how to manage both spheres of your mind and create #customsneaks & #paintedshoes that get sold as soon as you post the blank shoe online and announce your project to the world. 

We sponsor shoe artists on Instagram.

We sponsor shoe artists on Instagram.

And we love them! They create art, and use the income they make from customized shoes in order to pursue a livelihood. We admire these artists. If you're good enough we want to see your portfolio. Send us a message on Instagram @leathercaresupply 

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  • Alex Pop
Comments 1
  • Janae

    Good morning I had messaged you guys via direct message as well as

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