M Michael Tesauro

Angelus Direct Presents: Talking Customs with Dank

Oct 10, 2016
(Source: jwdanklefs.com)
Jake Danklefs is a true OG in the sneaker custom game. Under the name Dank & Co, this Texas-based artist is one of the most sought after sneaker customizers around, producing extremely detailed custom work that often make the original sneaker look boring. Everything about his art, from the painting sneakers, sole-swapping, to the detailing the box itself, is a reflection of his creativity and hard work ethic. Luckily, Jake was kind enough to take time from his daily grind to answer some questions about his background, his preferred tools of the trade, and his influences!
The custom sneaker world knows you as Jake Danklefs. Can you give us a little about your background and how you got into art?

My name is Jake Danklefs, better known as Dank. The Dank name came from the first 4 letters of my last name. I have been working  the art realm since I was a little kid, all types of art from sculpture to painting to architecture and design and all the way into welding and automotive work. I get that from my Mom. She is very creative. But I got the sneaker love from my brother. He always had the freshest stuff in the late 80s and 90s and I was just a ball of Play Dough picking up everything he was putting down. You can kinda guess where that went from there.

What are some of your main creative inspirations? 

My biggest influences as a kid were my mom and my brother. As I started to research and get into other things, I would soon realize that big influences in my life became Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles and Ray Eames, Chip Foose, Jesse James, Nigo and James Jebbia.

Your custom work is super detailed and vibrant. What's your go-to for tools—airbrush, straight up paint, combination of both?

My main tools are a combo of airbrush and hand painting. I do ALOT of both. Airbrush is something rather new for me. Only been doing that for a few years now, but its mainly for speeding up the process and adding fades. I have not mastered the detail side of the airbrush.

Does working with different types of sneakers challenge you to use different types of creativity? 

Of course, and I hate making things that are not wearable and sometimes you need to go to extreme measure to make sure something has the look that you want and also has the durability. If I could give any advice to a a beginner is always make sure you are doing everything you can to make your art wearable and durable.

How does doing work for clientele, affect the overall creative process? 

I try not to let it affect what I want to do at all. Most people come to me with an idea and an understanding that I will take their idea and do things they never thought possible with that idea. Creative freedom is very important and let people know that I am not the artist for them if I start to see that being compromised.

Your custom work is definitely a go-to for inspiration. How did you turn customizing into a business? 

That I can not answer. I had a full time job 4 years ago and was doing this on the side during that time and a quit because my dad got sick. So I started working more doing this and business just kept coming. If I would have known I would have made this into a full time job I would have done a lot of things differently. I would have a different name, different website, IG name, etc, and I would have legally legitimized my business alot sooner too.

Lastly, any advice for the young customizers out there getting started?

Again, do what you can and think outside the box to make sure your product is durable. All the products are out there to help but you should also know when to stop and not alter certain things. Invest in a good camera, take good pics and post them. Keep your audience talking about you. Dont let them forget about you. Be open and develop relationships with everyone you meet. You never know who they know and so on. Networking is important. Lastly, have fun and dont get caught up in things you dont want to do.

All images courtesy of @jwdanklefs

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