(Sponsored Artist Dillon Dejesus using Angelus Direct Products)
How can an artist turn a side hustle customizing sneakers into a full-time job? Dillon DeJesus, of DeJesus Custom Footwear, has figured that out.
Customizing shoes started as a hobby for Dillon while studying architecture in college, but he quickly realized he wanted to do it full-time. "Anytime I was in class or working on architecture studio projects," he recalls, "all I could think about was getting back to painting shoes." After a year and a half, he left school to commit to customizing full-time.
Fortunately, it more than worked out, and Dillon has grown a devoted following through his customs and social media. He now has over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube and millions of views. In large part that has been through his tutorials, in which he creates the kind of teaching resources he wishes he'd had starting out. In his videos, he covers everything from DIY Air Force 1s to business advice for up-and-coming sneaker customizers.
Because he often works with Angelus Direct paints in his tutorials, teaming up with them as a sponsored artist was a natural partnership. "Dillon has been a crucial part of the learning experience for our customers," says Tyler Angelos, CEO of the Angelus Brand. "Working together with him has been fantastic for showing an honest, fun, and educational representation of our products." This partnership between customizer and paint company has helped both businesses grow.
(Sponsored Artist Dillon Dejesus with some of this custom sneakers)
Dillon recently started taking his tutorials in-person with the DCF Experience, a series of pop-up events. He knows how lonely the creative process can be, so he wanted to build a community where artists could meet and learn new techniques. He was excited to have Angelus Direct agree to donate their paint for these workshops. He says that Angelus Direct has "become synonymous with paint for sneakers, and it's been an honor to represent the brand. I enjoy having the opportunity to test out products early in the development stage and help new creators get their hands on high-quality products."
The partnership between customizer and paint company has helped both grow their businesses. For years Dillon has relied on products like Angelus Direct Duller to help give his sneakers that professional, factory look, making it one of his favorite products. Angelus Direct is always developing new products and Dillon now uses the new Matte-4 Coat for that perfect finish. “It's great that we have an even better, stronger finisher,” says Dillon.
Right now, Dillon is working on an upcoming shoe showcase at Galerie Sakura in Paris and is busy creating custom cleats for the current NFL season. "It's great to be able to use a product like Angelus, knowing it's going to give us a clean result that can even withstand getting beat up on an NFL field," says Dillon.