It’s no secret that Trenton is full of talented individuals from all walks of life. Native Trentonian, Dez, has the honor of being amongst that distinguished group. Ten years ago, artist Dez merged her love of sneakers, aka kicks, with her passion for artwork and created her FlyKickz brand. She uniquely uses material from sneakers to create works of art, ranging from purses to stylish, exclusive wall pieces. Trenton Journal sits down with Dez to learn more about her innovative style and how the capital city nurtured her talent.
Who inspired your obsession with sneakers?
My parents. I was a borderline tomboy and kind of a girly girl, so the way for me and my father to bond was that we went sneaker shopping on Saturdays. It was something that we did every Saturday when I lived in Trenton, and I looked forward to it. I thought he had the flyest kicks. Hence, the way I came up with my name, FlyKickz. A lot of my art is inspired by sneakers, so when you see my pieces, it’s either pieces of sneakers implemented into my canvases or painted pictures of sneakers. So, I just kind of try to infuse my love of sneakers into my art.
Has growing up in Trenton played a part in you being an artist?
I think that art has always given me a sense of individuality, so being from Trenton, I just wanted to be able to stand out and be who I was created to be. I think that art allowed me to kind of just express myself freely rather than look to the in-crowd and try to duplicate that style. Being from Trenton everybody has their own thing going on so it kind of just went hand in hand with who I was and what I was doing.
What does Trenton mean to you as a city?
Growing up, [Trenton] has always made me feel like I can make it anywhere. If I made it in Trenton, I could take who I am and be able to be a chameleon anywhere I go. Trenton gives me a sense of family because my family resides there. I know who I am. Trenton allowed me to discover who I was and who I wanted to be, and it really made me comfortable in my own skin at a very young age.
Last year, the pandemic knocked everyone off their feet. How has the COVID pandemic impacted your art in terms of business?
I’ve been painting more than I’ve ever painted. I’ve been FlyKickz for almost 10 years and I think that the pandemic allowed me to slow down, tap into my art, and more importantly, tap into my target audience and the people who really appreciate my work.
What inspired you to start FlyKickz Care bags?
FlyKickz care bags started as this idea. When I was starting FlyKickz, I would go to all of these sneaker touring events. I would collect all of the toiletries [from the hotels] and never use them to the point where I had bags of stuff in my closet. I had this idea in the back of my head to use these toiletries, make these care bags, and distribute them to those in need in my community. I held onto them for some time and then finally in August of 2018, I woke up one day and [decided to] distribute them to people in my community who I see outside the homeless shelters and who I see at the train stations. I wanted to give them something they can actually use.
How can people reach you if they’re interested in purchasing your artwork?
A lot of people just reach out to me directly on my Instagram [@flykickz]. I’m definitely on there a lot. People go to my website, www.iamflykickz.com and they send me emails if they wanna connect with me and I reply as fast as I can. I have [artwork] for maybe $25 and as high as maybe $3000, it really just kind of depends on how simple or complex the design…whether or not I’m actually using sneakers. But I also tell people don’t get discouraged if they see something that they like that’s on the higher end. Reach out to me…if you have a budget, let’s create something within your budget.