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How Dillon DeJesus went from hobbyist to pro

(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.

Get inspired by more artists on Angelus Directs Instagram or if you want to start creating your own custom items find everything you need at AngelusDirect.com.

Custom Sneaker Spotlight: August 2022

A couple themes seemed to take hold when it came to custom sneakers this August. First and foremost customizers must have been hungry, because we saw a number of food themed Air Force 1s that paid homage to some of our favorite snacks. From breakfast to dinner, anyone hungry for delicious customs was well fed.

Once everyone had had something to eat, anime themed customs dominated too this month. Some of your favorite anime characters were immortalized in paint everywhere from sneakers to jackets. Check out some of the best customs from the past month below and head to Angelus Direct for all the paints and supplies you need to create your own.

Nike Cinnamon Toast Crunch Air Force 1

(source: 

@visionarykickz)

@visionarykickz is starting off the day right with these custom Cinnamon Toast Crunch Air Force 1s. Get your cereal fix with a toasted orange palette that gives these sneakers that classic cereal box look. A splash of milk in white right above the midsole pairs nicely with the white sole and laces. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch logo is the perfect finishing touch.

Nike Hamburger Air Force 1

(source: @sneakerqueenscustoms)

Sponsored artist @sneakerqueenscustoms knows what's cooking this summer, Hamburger Air Force 1s. These delicious customs fill the toebox with a hamburger and all the toppings, complete with cheese, lettuce and tomato. The palette on the rest of the shoe takes inspiration from the seeded bun, in golden brown and beige. These Air Force 1s are ready for all the end of summer Labor Day barbecues coming up.

Nike Howl's Moving Castle Air Jordan

(source: @enzohkim)

It was all about the details on these Howl's Moving Castle inspired customs by @enzohkim. Perfectly capturing every detail, from portraits of the characters to that anime color palette with vibrant grass greens and a bright blue sky background, these customs are sure to win over any anime fan. Even the detailing along the eyelets and swoosh in yellow and gold give it that playful, colorful anime feel.

Itachi x Sasuke Denim Jacket

(source: @ravocustoms)

Customs doesn't just mean sneakers, as @ravocustoms proves with this Itachi x Sasuke jacket. Crisp lines and a perfectly hand painted denim jacket in blue, black and red make this custom stand out. Keeping most of the design to the back panel of the jacket keeps this emotional scene contained, with just a few feathers floating off to the side adding some movement. The tight color palette also helps create maximum impact with this design.

Nike Howl's Moving Castle Air Force 1

(source: @chuchu.art)

Last but not least is another Howl's Moving Castle inspired custom by @chuchu.art. Here bright color dominates with a design that goes all the way down the midsoles with green grass and pink flower petals floating through the air. Sophie comes to life in this vibrant backdrop in brilliant blue. Carefully painted by hand, these anime customs bring your favorite characters to your favorite sneakers.

Check out Angelus Direct to find everything you need to create your own one of a kind pieces. To see more customs like these make sure to follow Angelus on Instagram and tag us in your own custom creations.

Rit Dye Recs

Angelus Direct has specialized in helping customers create custom pieces with Angelus Leather Dyes and Paints for over a hundred years. When it comes to fabric Rit Dye has also been the go to brand when working with woven materials, which is why Angelus Direct is now teaming up with Rit Dye to cover all your customizing needs.

With over a hundred years of experience in fabric dying Rit Dye has the dyes you need to achieve the perfect color. Rit Dyemore Synthetic Fabric Dye is formulated to work with synthetic fabrics or blends that are over 35% synthetic. This includes fabrics like polyester, acrylic, acetate, or nylon. Here are some tips on how to achieve the results you're looking for on your next project.

-Prep. Wash any fabric before dying and remove any finish on leather with leather preparer so the dye can properly adhere.

-Heat. Hot water at a consistent temperature is the key to successfully dying fabrics with Rit Dyemore Synthetic Fabric Dye. Bring the water to a boil and keep it at a high heat while dying.

-Space. Use a stainless steel pot that can hold the three gallons of water you will need for dying. Make sure there's enough space in the pot for whatever you're dying to move around so the dye can be distributed evenly.

-Ratios. Use the right amount of dye to determine how dark or light the final color will be. It's recommended that you add 4 ounces of Rit Dye to the water once it's boiling. Use 8 ounces if dying fabric that is 100% synthetic. 

-Time. You can also control the depth of the color by adjusting your dying time. Dye items between 10 and 30 minutes depending on how saturated you want the color to be.

-Finish. Wash fabric to remove any excess dye and your DIY is ready to wear. Leather Conditioner is recommended after dying as Rit Dye can dry out the leather. To really lock in color on dyed fabrics use Rit Colorstay Fixative after dying.

    You can also use Rit Dyemore on a variety of other materials, including rubber and leather. While Angelus Leather Paint has been a favorite of sneaker customizers for its ability to seamlessly transform leather uppers, it isn't designed for use on rubber soles. With Rit Dyemore now sneakers can be customized from top to bottom. The process for dying rubber is slightly different than fabric as direct heat can adversely affect the shoe. Create the dye bath on high heat and then transfer to other plastic containers for dying the soles of shoes.

    When using on leather a non permeable material it's important to prepare the surface with leather preparer or an acetone before dying so that the dye can adhere. 

    Reimagine old clothes in a new color, create your own tie dye creation or customize sneakers from the insole to the sole with clothes dye the options are limitless. Between Angelus Paints and Rit Dyemore Angelus Direct has the tools for achieving the perfect shade on your next project. Be sure to check out Angelus Direct on Instagram for the latest customs.

    Angelus Tutorials: Chrome and Lightning Custom Trucker Hat

    Angelus Direct knows that one of the best things about customs is that you can create what you can't have. Whether it's a one of a kind piece you've seen and want to recreate or a completely original idea, if you have the right supplies and skills you can create just about anything.

    That's true of this custom trucker hat that features a chrome and lightning design. We'll walk you step by step through the instructions and supplies you need to recreate your own version.

    Supplies:

    -Trucker Hat

    -Premium Masking Tape

    -Vinyl Stencil

    -Detail knife

    -Transfer tape

    -Airbrush

    -Angelus Flat Black Paint

    -2-Thin or 2-Soft

    -Angelus White Paint

    -Brushes

    -Pencil

    -Angelus Pale Blue Paint

    -Angelus Neon Bahama Blue Paint

     

    Step 1: Tape off your hat

    Prep work can be as important as the painting you do. With the right prep you can ensure you have less cleanup work to do at the end and have a flawless design. That's why it's important to tape off any areas of the hat you don't want painted with Premium Masking Tape, like the visor or mesh areas on this trucker hat.

    Step 2: Create your stencil

    A vinyl stencil is a versatile tool you can use to apply as simple or as complicated a design as you want with absolute precision. Simply trace the design on the vinyl stencil and cut it out using a detail knife. Transfer tape applied on top of the stencil makes it even easier to put your stencil in place. Just put the transfer tape over your vinyl stencil, remove the elements you don't need and use it to transfer the remaining design.

    For this custom two stencils that are mirror images of each other are used to work on each part of the area that's going to be painted. First the stencil with the letters is applied so the background can be painted first.

     

    Step 3: Airbrush the background

    There are many designs where an airbrush is essential and this is one of them. First a background is applied in flat black. Mix a 1:1 ratio of 2-Thin with the black so the paint moves through the airbrush easily. You could also use 2-Soft here, which will also help thin the paint while keeping the painted fabric soft, just remember it has to be heat set after.

    Once you've applied several thin coats that have fully dried in between each painting you can remove the stencil.

    Step 4: Airbrush the text

    It's now time to apply the stencil that revels the letters so the text can be painted. To create that reflective chrome look masking tape is applied over the stencil at an angle. By controlling the mist and distance at which you use the airbrush you can create a gradient effect by applying a mist of paint along the tape. Remove the masking tape and apply the same gradient look along the top. 

    Outline the top and sides of the letters in white to help the text stand out. 

     

    Step 5: Painting the lightning

    Use a pencil to applying the lightning pattern by drawing squiggling lines in random patterns over the background. Then outline all the lightning by painting it white. Go over each painted lightning strike in white with the airbrush to again create that gradient effect.

    Add some color with a 50/50 ratio of Angelus Pale Blue Paint and Angelus Neon Bahama Blue Paint. Spray this custom blue over the white that has already been sprayed. Go back over the lightning in white paint to finish off the effect.

    Remove the tape and you have your own lightning and chrome effect custom trucker hat!

    More Custom Tutorials

    If you want to see more custom tutorials like this one, make sure to subscribe to the Angelus YouTube channel to learn tips and techniques.

    Also, make sure to follow Angelus on Instagram and check out our online store to grab the materials you need to create your own custom designs!

    Custom Sneaker Spotlight: July 2022

    As the weather continues to heat up this summer, July customs saw one major trend: red. From marble effects in deep red to classic cartoon characters in bright red, it found a way to help the latest customs make an impact. We also saw a number of customizers using Angelus paints to create pieces they couldn't buy, either because they were too expensive or didn't exist.

    Find these designs below and all the paints and supplies you need to create your own red themed customs at Angelus Direct.

    Nike Chicago Marble Air Force 1

    (source: @kiramadethis)

    When @kiramadethis couldn't afford to buy her favorite shoes she just created her own version of the Chicago Marble Air Force 1s. That's exactly what Angelus Direct likes to see, where the motto is create what you can't have. She uses red and black marbling with white veining on the swoosh and uppers broken up with blocks of white to recreate this Chicago Bulls themed sneaker. This is a great example of how with a little talent and creativity anything is within reach, even the sneakers you covet the most.

    Elmo and Cookie Monster Nike Air Force 1

     (source: @wipupcustoms)

    The Air Force 1 gets a monster makeover with this Sesame Street custom by @wipupcustoms. Elmo red and Cookie Monster blue give these customs that playful, primary color look. Cookie accents in brown and tan and blue sky details give these sneakers a perfect finishing touch. @wipupcustoms leaves the eyelets, sole, laces and pull tab white to keep things light. All these details come together to make a pair of sneakers kids and adults will appreciate.

    Mickey Mouse Nike Air Jordan

    (source: @theblondlasagna)

    Another customs kids and kids at heart will love is this Mickey inspired pair. The Air Jordan gets a Mickey Mouse makeover by the @theblondlasagna. With that iconic glove in white and black gripping the iconic Nike swoosh in dark red, these clean customs put a spin on this Nike classic. She keeps things simple with color blocking on the uppers in white, black and pink.

    Nike BAPE Rhapsody Air Force 1

    (source: stickynation_)

    BAPE Rhapsody Air Force 1s? Here stickynation_ takes the 'create what you can't have' ethos to the next level with a Nike and BAPE mash up. It doesn't matter if it hasn't happened yet, if you can imagine something then you can create it. With BAPEs looking so similar to the Air Force 1 it's a natural combination. Pair this custom with a fresh tape reveal and you have a winning combination. Pinker tones on the uppers are paired with white and black accents really make this design stand out.

    Nobody appreciates just how innovative and unique custom sneaker designs can be than Angelus Direct. It just takes the right Angelus paints. Check out Angelus Direct to find everything you need to create your own one of a kind pieces. To see more customs like these make sure to follow Angelus on Instagram and tag us in your own custom creations.