Based in Dagenham, south east London, there is one man changing the face of footwear customisation one step at a time. Meet David of HEKStyle. David individually hand paints each pair of shoes orders and no 2 designs are the same. Unlike NIKE ID David's designs are almost limitless. BVC grabbed at the chance to interview this new talent and here's what he had to say.
How did you get into painting?
Going back to the very beginning, I’m told that my Mum had my brother and myself being creative at a young age. Sadly she passed when I was 3 so painting has always been something I’ve kept up in my own time. I feel that’s one way I can stay connected.
I never took art as a course in further education as at that point in my life (aged 14-18) I felt a slight embarrassment towards drawing and painting. I was often hearing that art wasn’t a real career prospect. Art was a somewhat childish thing to do compared to drinking, hanging out and making money working a “real” job etc.
That’s where graffiti came in I guess. For me I could still be creative and paint but at the same time seem cool for doing it… That’s ultimately what got me on the career path.
Did you study art?
I did a Graphic Media class in secondary school, that’s as close as I’ve come to studying art.
When did you start your business?
I started HEKStyle Hand Painted Footwear, seriously at the turn of 2011. I painted several pairs from 2008-2010 for friends and customers through word of mouth. It was a learning curve, getting to know the market for it.
Certain people were skeptical of how well the business could do but with support from the people closest to me, I launched the official page on Facebook and it’s getting more hits than anyone would’ve thought.
I’m now in the process of building an official website.
How long does it take you to complete a pair?
I like to give myself some time on each pair by allowing up to 4 weeks for an order to be completed. Time is dependent on my workload at a given time and the complexity of a request. I usually work on a number of pairs at once. Each layer of paint needs sufficient time to dry before adding the next. That allows me to switch between multiple pairs and by the time I’m back to the first, they would have dried ready for another layer.
How did it feel to have Jessie J herself show an interest in your work via twitter?
It’s a massive compliment! She’s from my local area and has great talent so its satisfying to know that my art is appreciated by those who its inspired by.
The Do It Like A Dude Nikes was the first, Jessie J inspired pair. They got good feed back and shortly after I received an email from her management requesting the shoes. They expressed how impressed they were which was fantastic.
After that Jessie J fans were showing interest and one customer and dedicated Jessie J fan from the US managed to get her pair signed.
A recent order for Nobody’s Perfect, Clock scene inspired Dunks got a RT from Jessie J as soon as I posted them to twitter. That increased my Jessie J fan base and I’m now working on many more pairs inspired by her music.
When I decided to paint the first JJ pair it was on the basis of doing a collection inspired by UK talent. I never imagined the impact they would have amongst her fan base and that I would now be known as the innovator for JJ inspired footwear.
What inspires your work?
I find inspiration from anywhere. Music, conversations, images, films its endless. Ideas are generating in my head all the time… some I discard but most I write or sketch down either for immediate action or to put on the back burner for a later date. The ideas are not all necessarily for shoes. You’ll see what else I get up to when my website is completed ;)
I’m sitting on so many ideas inspired by so many different things its always a case of scheduling my time to bring each idea to reality, at the right time.
How much input do the customers have into the final designs?
Some customers will have more input than others. Some will know exactly what they’re after and include images and information for me to work with. I’ll then get some rough drawings sent over to be scrutinized until we come up with a design we’re both happy with.
Others will put they’re full trust in me to create something they’ll love by just providing info on they’re favorite colour, theme and style of shoe. I’ll either send through designs or go straight into the painting process.
If you want to know more about HEKStyle you can find them on Facebook here. If you would like your very own pair of custom painted Nikes you can find the price list on the facebook FAQ board or email David directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Happy shopping girls!