I can't tell you how many times I've watched a TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube video - where I see a youngin' use spray paint...the acrylic paint you'd use on canvas...or even poster paint (???) - to paint their shoes.
And all I can think of when I see this is, "DON'T DO IT MAN!", because I know EXACTLY how this is gonna end for those shoes.
In one word: Cracked.
Any sneaker customizer will tell you about their first pair of sneakers they painted - where they used the wrong paint... Painted the midsoles... And they did all of this with SUCH CARE for the day or weekend... But when they went to put them on, to rock in the streets...the HORROR! The peeling...
And the pride draining out of their soul, as they realize they did something wrong.
"The TikTok video was a LIE! Damn you to Mississippi, you TikToking harlot!"
We eventually calm down, do research, and ask sneaker customizers who were willing to answer our cold DMs - to figure out what we did wrong, and what we need to do next time.
So, in that vein - let's talk about THEE STANDARD paint you would use to paint your sneakers.
What kind of paint should you use? There are 2 brands (with one being the industry standard) that you can choose from. You have:
Angelus Paint <--(THEE STANDARD)
And Jacquard Neopaque, their Sneaker Series, or Lumiere Collection (you can order them from DickBlick or Jerry’s Artarama online)
For you beginners, I beg of you to use Angelus Paint to start. They have EVERY COLOR in the rainbow, and like I noted - they are THEE STANDARD in the sneaker painting industry.
HOWEVER, don’t think that you can buy these paints and just slap them on your leather sneakers off the bat.
You do that, and there’s a HIGH CHANCE you'll experience that soul draining disappointment of the paint job cracking and/or peeling.
The quick & dirty on how to paint your leather sneakers:
Sand your sneaker (prepping the leather) with 400/600 grit sandpaper
Remove the factory finish on your sneaker using industrial strength acetone (the brand I use is Klean Strip) + cotton balls. Make sure to wear protective gloves (yellow, kitchen rubber gloves will do) while you do this outside - where there is a lot of crosswind. This stuff is toxic.
THEN you can start painting your sneakers Unless you’re using an airbrush, expect to lay down 1-2 thin coats of a flexible adhension promoter + Angelus paint mix, and THEN 2-4 thin coats of plain Angelus paint. How many coats you lay down will be dependent on how opaque the paint is. If you're using Angelus' Black - about 3-4 coats total, and you'll have full coverage. If you're using Angelus' Gold - you'll be in the 8+ coats range before you get full coverage because it's thinner. Use a blow dryer in between each coat to speed up the drying time.
When you’re done painting your sneakers, make sure to seal your paint job with Liquid Kicks Official Finisher . My favorites are Matte & Factory Finish.
I love TikTok as much as the next person. But as I've learned over the years of sneaker painting - a lot of times, TikTok & YouTube videos don't teach you EVERYTHING you need to know to do something.
It's good to get you started. But you have to do the research, experimentation, and reaching out to people more knowledgable than you - on your own.
If you want to learn how to paint your sneakers, check out this follow along Skillshare Class where I teach you how to paint your leather shoes - from cleaning to applying the scratch-resistant finisher.
Check out The Puck'n Sneaker Paint Kit if you want to get (almost) all the supplies you need to start painting your sneakers. Acetone + Hair Dryer not included. ;c)