The Right Way to Customize Sneakers

What used to be a niche market has grown into one of the biggest part of sneaker culture. Customization isn’t just a DIY project anymore; it’s a creative outlet, a way to show your personality and art through your kicks. The market is filled with talented DIY professionals who customize and sell sneakers. With the addition of a new subculture that’s unapologetically quirky and takes products to give it an innovative do-over, it’s only getting more interesting.

It’s safe to say that many people want to add hints of exclusivity and individuality to their kicks, but most of them aren’t sure how to start. Here, we have brought couple of ideas on how to customize sneakers.

So you want to customize your shoes? We’ve got it all covered to make it easier for you. Keep reading to learn handy techniques on how to customize sneakers that is much needed personal touch plus a list of products to take your customization skills to the next level. 

Levels of Sneaker Customization

Lacing is like the very first step on this creative ladder. What’s next?


One of the simplest, most classic ways to modify your sneaks is by drawing on them. You can use a ton of tools including paint, sharpies, markers, and pens too. Don’t get demotivated if your work doesn’t come out something like a Bob Ross painting. You’re trying to make it like you.

Right now, scribble art is a trending topic. The art doesn’t have to be perfect as abstract work is equally appreciated.

Spray-Painting, Painting, and Dyeing

This is a level upgrade from lacing and illustrations. Take your designs further by painting on your shoes. Do remember that this option will need you to spend a bit more time and efforts on finding the best supplies for a particular material, for instance, synthetic vs. suede. This ensures you get a professional-looking, clean job.

  • For Painting: Mixing flexible medium in the paint gives you an edge in movement as you can maneuver the paint freely without worrying about cracking the color. You can find several customization products online, and there’s also a special made crafted to stick to leather.
  • For Spray-Painting: Spray painting is like the OG way to customize your shoes, but professional artists don’t recommend it as there’s very little control over the flow of the paint. The nozzle can act up and give you an uneven paint job. Airbrushes are much more popular if something has to sprayed. Graffiti-based artists prefer the spray-painting technique and they’ve done some pretty great work, so if you’re into that, we say go for it! The airbrush just provided more control and the nozzle is changeable.
  • For Dyeing: Suede dye is rather popular among some shoe customizers, but it will work on a specific shoe model. As a lot of brands have been ditching suede recently to work with synthetic goods and neoprene, Rit is the best dye choice you can find. The hot-water bath method is gaining popularity for changing the color of both the upper and the sole.


Really up to the challenge? Try Logos. Engrave your own trademark onto the sneaks for a stylish and nifty look that’s sure to turn heads. This is also a good way to show off your professional potential.

You can send your design to some companies and they’ll laser-engrave it on your sneakers. There are also companies where a logo is cut in vinyl and imposed on the shoe to achieve a super professional look.


Arguably the hardest technique of all that’s equally rewarding, deconstruction has been made more mainstream recently, but it’s a growing trend on the world of customized kicks. Before attempting this, keep in that mind that you will have to take your shoes apart and reassemble everything with various materials. There’s obviously a learning curve, and we simply don’t want your ruining your favorite kicks.

The Finishing Touch

The final step will have you applying a finishing coat on your finished product. Available options include finishing coats, varnishes to give that patented leather touch, and much more. You can choose to apply either a matter or a glossy finisher depending on you taste and the kind of work. In a professional’s opinion, matte is better suited for rigid designs where there’s less scope for movement in the area that’s been painted (for instance: a strong rubber sole). If the sole is on the softer side, something with more flex is the best choice.

Things to Avoid

You check out other guides and they’ll have a full list of things you should refrain from. After checking out what professionals have to say, we can only say one thing: Don’t let your fear hold you back. With custom sneakers, the process is a complex one, but imperfection is the perfection of today.

Products You Should Buy to Customize

  • Paint: Angelus Acrylic Paint is the best choice for customizing. The brand has a reputation for being incredibly vibrant, pleasantly durable, and longest lasting on different materials.
  • Fine brushes: The right brush will make all the difference in the end result by keeping the lines sharp and clean. A high quality brush is a necessity for painting with acrylic paint.
  • Reconstruction tool: You absolutely need a sharp knife if you plan on doing some reconstruction. Parts of the sneaker can be distressed or completely removed. Try working with different types of sand paper and see if those do a better job at distressing and go with the best option.
  • Airbrush: To get the professional result, get airbrushes. Use this technique with a stencil to create effortlessly intricate designs.
  • Embroidery pen: Not recommended for newbies as they wouldn’t get much use out of it. Embroidery pens work very well on canvas and decreases work time.


Now you know how to customize sneakers, have fun making your sneakers completely you! Have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment with patterns and techniques. It’s best you start off with the easiest methods and practice on old shoes. Let the creative juices flow!

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