In the words of OG sneaker customizer SBTG, Melbourne’s very own Mathew Fabris or better known as Sekure D “is right on top of the custom sneaker game.” Sekure D has been producing some of the most vibrant one-off custom pieces since the mid-2000’s, when he channeled his sneaker addiction into a creative outlet. Mathew isn’t just known for his own custom sneakers though.
Imagine a comic book store, a sneaker boutique, and an arcade had a baby. This store would sell pieces like the infamous 'Codename Unknown' Iron Man Mask by Sekure D. But of course, that store might not exist (yet! someone get on it). But this is the level of work Mathew puts out as a Sekure D. It's light hearted, but intricate and eye popping.
For Medicom heads and serious toy enthusiasts, a Sekure D piece is a collector’s item. His custom toys are an extension of his artistic pursuits, so naturally, the same craftsmanship that goes into a pair of custom sneakers goes into one of Mathew’s vinyl toys.
Outside of his own custom design work, Sekure has collaborated with some of the biggest names in sneakers and sportswear. But of course, this status in the world of customs doesn't come over night. And if you're wondering how he got to the level he's at, so were we! So caught up with Mathew to talk a little about art, influence, and how to balance different mediums.
Angelus Direct: The custom sneaker world knows you as Sekure D, insanely talented artist from Australia. Can you give us a little about your background and how you got into art?
Sekure D: Thanks for the compliment. I never studied art, I got into graffiti at about 16 and then when I was about 18 or 19 started to graffiti sneakers for myself and my friends, that’s basically how it all started.
At a glimpse, there seems to be heavy comic-book/Sci Fi/hip hop influences on your custom sneaker work. What are some of your main inspirations?
You really nailed it there. I love all 3 of those things, and if you mixed in cinema then you would have pretty much all my inspirations wrapped up. I like to create sneakers around a specific theme or character rather than a colorway or something that is currently trending and hyped, that way you get a more artistic sneaker. A lot of my artwork is pattern based and has an overriding sense of futuristic Sci Fi elements with bold patterns and colors.
Your custom sneakers are always incredibly detailed and vibrant. Is your creative process for a new piece more free form? Or, do you plan out your projects beforehand?
Thanks! I used to completely plan them out but now that I have been doing this for so long I no longer feel the need unless a mockup has been specifically requested by a client before the project begins. I will always know the framework of a design but I do freestyle a lot of it now in regards to color and patterns.
While sneaker customizing seems to be gaining popularity, custom vinyl toys is still more of a niche world. How do you pick and choose what project, and which medium you're going to take on?
Its funny you say that because when I started to customize sneakers nobody was doing it and it was incredibly niche, I would say there was maybe 10-15 active customizers in about 2005/06 when I began. People don’t really remember what it was like back then, a sneaker swapmeet or event would have maybe 100 patrons here, back then it was a completely different world.
In that sense, I guess you’re right; custom vinyl hasn’t quite broken the mainstream however it is a huge market. A lot of very famous artists work on vinyl and create figures as a part of their skillset. There are huge brands out there as well, such as Medicom and of course Kidrobot, who I have an upcoming collaboration with dropping in May. I guess I chose to work with toys and vinyl because it gave me an opportunity to bring a character to life in 3D, plus I am a bit of a big kid and still collect a bunch of figures.
Does switching between custom sneakers and working with vinyl ever influence the creative process? Like did coming up with the Pork Russell figure give you the idea to make "Big Trouble..." inspired sneakers later down the line?
It keeps everything fresh for me. I have been customizing sneakers for 10 or so years, so changing it up makes it more fun and interesting no question. It is for this reason I still paint murals and canvas, gotta diversify to keep interesting.
I would love to make a Big Trouble sneaker down the track to match my Pork Russel; I can definitely see that happening. I just love that movie so much the figure was the first thing that came to mind, but I do have a few ideas for sneakers as well.
You have a stacked client list for your apparel and art design work. How does working for, or collaborating with, other companies and artists affect the overall creative process?
It really is tough to generalize because it depends so much on the brand and client. Typically there is a level of compromise you have to be comfortable with and being able to think on your feet, problem solve and find quick solutions to problems are essential skills. I am lucky that most brands I have worked with seek me out, so I have a good level of freedom. Sometimes though, your career is as defined by the jobs you say no to as the ones you accept, so you can’t be afraid to walk away either.
Your custom pieces are definitely a go-to for inspiration. How did you turn artistic talent into a personal brand/business?
Cheers! I guess back when I started it was a hobby, it definitely wasn’t a long term plan. Kids these days email me every day thinking customizing sneakers is some get rich scheme, it isn’t! Few, very very few guys live off this full time, I really think for at least 2-3 years in the mid 2000s, SBTG and I were the only guys doing this as a full time profession.
I just work incredibly hard, that’s the only secret. Make sure to make the most of your abilities, create a style that stands alone as your own and don’t cut corners! I guess those are the things that helped me get to where I am today.
Lastly, any advice for the young sneaker customizers and artists out there getting started?
Style is everything, work in defining your own. The end goal should be that a person can identify your customs as yours, without your name on the shoe or the photo. That was always my goal. If you look at the customizers that have got collabs or been successful to date, I would say this rule applies to almost all of them.
If you haven't yet, be sure to keep up with Sekure D's Instagram account for updates on his various projects. For fans of comic books, Sci Fi weirdness, old school video games, and pop culture icons, Sekure's work hits a full range. While Sekure seems to drop a collector's item every time he puts out a new custom sneaker, his pieces still show how much fun you can have paint and a brush.