We continue to broaden our scope and put the spotlight on sneaker customizers from around the globe. This week, we speak to Art Chen, a sneaker customizer based in Taiwan.
Living in central Taiwan, near the country’s famed Sun Moon Lake, Art Chen has wholly devoted his time to graphic design, sneaker customization and working as a farmer in his organic tea plantation.
What got you interested in sneaker customization?
About ten years ago, I saw the works of Methamphibian and SBTG, and I was both stunned and inspired! Their artworks opened the door to the world of customizing sneakers. The elements they applied happened to be just the same elements I love too!
Do you have a sizeable collection of your own?
Actually, I am not a sneaker collector; I prefer to admire them. The shoes that attract me the most are the Stash x Reebok and Futura x Converse collaborations, because I love graffiti art.
What type of designs do you specialize in?
I like to combine military style and camouflage with traditional Chinese characters. More recently, superheroes became part of my inspiration.
What are some notable works that you have produced?
I have made an Air Max 90 inspired by The Killing Joke, a Batman comic book. I have also designed an Air Jordan 1 with Deadpool graphics and splattered “blood”. There was also an Air Jordan 11 that came with beautiful rainbow snake skin.
What’s the typical time needed to customize a pair of sneakers?
From drafting to design and completion, I need approximately 14 to 28 days.
Is there a trend in terms of the sneaker brands and silhouettes that they usually want customized?
About 80% of my customers ask for Jordans. Half of the clients let me surprise them, so they give lots of space to create anything. About 30% of my clients give me specific themes, and the remaining 20% provide their own ideas that I base the final designs on.
Have you received any strange requests?
Yes, sometimes customers have extremely fancy requests. My clients often have very exquisite thoughts and are happy to offer higher prices to have unique pieces of work.
What sort of customization jobs would you not accept?
I will not accept jobs that require me to copy another sneaker customizer’s work.
What are your future plans for the business?
No plans in particular. I just want to keep creating and stay original.
This interview has been edited and condensed.