On Saturday, August 5th, sneaker customizing artist, Dez “FlyKickz’’, held her first Sneaker Customizing Workshop at Mercer County Community College where a group of youth selected by FlyKickz’s team were able to put their imagination to work.
FlyKickz specializes in sneaker customization in which she takes plain Nike sneakers and completely reworks them into a piece of art. More recently in her career she has begun to cut up sneakers and sew them into canvases, giving the shoes an entire new life-form. “I’ve been FlyKickz for over 13 years. I started as a sneaker customizer which actually inspired the Youth Customizing Workshop,” she said.
The Trenton bred artist’s work has been featured in numerous art galleries and community events. In addition to creating her unique style of art, FlyKickz spends her downtime giving back to the community. “I volunteer with numerous organizations, cleaning up local neighborhoods, community parks, delivering Meals On Wheels and constantly utilizing my platform to give back.”
Originally from Trenton, New Jersey FlyKickz finds inspiration in the city and those that surrounded her in adolescence. “I started [my brand] FlyKickz in Queens, New York, but Trenton is where I’m from. It’s where the teachers inspired me, so I try to do as much volunteer work as possible in the community that I [come] from. Trenton is a great source of inspiration for me.”
Weaving her love of art and passion for volunteer work with, her Youth Sneaker Customizing Workshop FlyKickz expresses that preparing for the sneaker workshop has been the biggest project of her career and the first event she has curated on her own. Countless hours of hard work was dedicated to the sneaker customizing workshop, which raised more than $6,000 on GoFundMe.
In addition to supplying artwork and space for the youth to be creative, FlyKickz provided encouragement and feedback to the participants through hands-on assistance throughout the workshop. “I want to not only equip them where they have an idea of what sneaker customization entails, but more importantly the road to getting to this point, all the hard work and dedication that I’ve put in throughout my career. I want them to know it didn’t just happen overnight. I want to equip them with fundamentals that they can apply to anything, whether they aspire to be sneaker customizers, photographers, dancers, or professors,” said FlyKickz.
Each workshop participant was provided with a pair of white Nike Air Force 1’s, leather paint, paint brushes, acrylic paint markers, aprons and blank sneaker templates to let their imaginations run free. Along with art supplies, participants were provided with food sponsored by Wegmans, Wal-Mart and the Trenton Ice Cream Parlor.
FlyKickz main goal was to give the kids a safe environment to purely create and to take their time in the process. Towards the end of the workshop, participants presented their newly customized pair of sneakers to the group and were given art supplies to take home. FlyKickz intends for her Youth Sneaker Customizing Workshop to become an annual event. “Year after year we only hope for it to grow where it becomes that thing where I need a seat at the Youth Sneaker Customizing Workshop. This is the beginning of something even more amazing,” said FlyKickz.