Sole focus: Wells customizes, collects shoes


Wells displays the shoes he has personally customized.

At the start of middle school, junior John Wells found his own unique hobby. It started by collecting shoes and, thanks to Wells’ artistic abilities, grew to something more–customizing shoes for friends and for himself.

Using his own money, Wells has purchased over 30 pairs of shoes. Wells credits his main motive to collect shoes to a childhood memory.

“I had found a pair of shoes in my dad’s closet that he had never worn, and I thought they were pretty cool. Then I wore them to school, and I was little so they were way too big for me but I thought they were cool. A lot of people made fun of me over how big they were the entire day,” Wells said. “I still have them. For some reason, I liked the shoes, and there were a ton of others that I really liked so I was like, ‘you make fun of those shoes, we’ll see when I have a bunch of the cool ones on’ so I wouldn’t be made fun of anymore.”

Along with basic drawing, Wells has furthered himself in the business of customizing shoes. Since eighth grade, customizing has become a way for Wells to put his own take on his own shoes, as well as for others.

“I did this pair when I was in Chisholm. They were galaxy print and I painted them myself and spent a lot of time on them. They were the first shoe I customized myself. I always like to do art work like drawing. So once I got into shoes, I started drawing shoes and customizing shoes of my own. Some of the shoe companies don’t make the stuff that I like, so I design the shoes that I would wear,” Wells said.

Thanks to social media, sophomore Gavin Cusick was able to contact Wells and customize his own pair through a sketch and review process. Cusick said he recommends others to go through Wells.

“I’ve seen the stuff that John does, and I thought they were pretty cool. John and I are good friends so I decided to go through him,” Cusick said. “[The shoes] are pretty nice. I like them, and they are holding together pretty nice. The paint isn’t falling off or anything.”

Wells said his inspiration for not only collecting, but customizing and art in general, is his father.

“[My dad] is not really into shoes like I am but he’s taught me pretty much everything I know about art, as he is an artist too. Seeing him make stuff and do the stuff he likes inspires me because you know painting and making shoes and collecting them may seem weird to people, but it makes me happy,” Wells said.

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