Art Murmur: DIY Canvas Shoes

We’ve all done it before. We’ve defaced our canvas shoes like an abandoned wall in the inner city. Friends’ names and random shapes may have been graffitied in Sharpie on the rubber soles of your Converse.

Megadeth, a classic rock band, themed canvas shoes. Acrylic paint was used. Photo by Alec Damiano.

Now it’s popular to see artwork on shoes. A simple visit to any Vans store or their website lets you see the array of designs they offer.

Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave” artwork? Check. Plaid and other patterns in the color of your choice? Also. Shiny silver glitter? Yep. There’s even a custom shop where you can create your own.

But what if you’re dissatisfied with the options you have? Fear not. You can design your own using an array of easily found supplies.

I’ve done several of my own custom-designed canvas shoes in the past, all of them based on musicians of some sort. I’ve used a variety of materials, ranging from acrylic paint to Sharpies to glitter nail polish.

Despite the medium you wish to use, there is a basic set of rules you should keep in mind.

  1. Decide on a design. Sketch your potential designs on with a pencil before you break out the permanent stuff. If the shoes are dark, use a white or other light colored pencil.
  2. View it through outsiders’ eyes. Keep in mind that most people who see your shoes won’t be hovering a few inches over them like you will be when you’re painting or drawing on them. Some details will only be noticeable to you. Keep in mind how your shoes will look from a distance.
  3. Protection. When you’re finished decorating, allow the artwork to dry for several hours. To be safe, leave them in a place of low humidity for at least 24 hours. Then seal them with acrylic sealer (the stuff used to varnish acrylic paintings) or shoe protectant, which should be available at any shoe store.
For my most recent footwear project, I used acrylic paints to create a homage to Megadeth, one of my favorite bands. In the past, I’ve used permanent fabric pen to make Motley Crue shoes and permanent markers to make KISS ones. I’ve also used glitter nail polish to emphasize some of the details.

You could use beads, sequins, feathers…  the possibilities are nearly endless. Just make sure you protect your shoes once you’re done revamping them.


Do you know of any interesting art, entertainment or crafts you’d like me to cover? Tweet me at @DamianoAlec or email me at To see some of my artwork, click here.

Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.