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RACINE —Park High School senior Shelby Jennings has a unique talent that combines her love for painting, sneakers and sports.

The soon-to-be graduate has coined herself as a self-taught artist specializing in creating custom-painted sneakers. Nike Air Force 1s, Converses, Vans, and Jordans are her typical medium to paint on.

Shelby's Customs
Customized shoes with red paint and white spikes. – Credit: Shelby's Customs

While Shelby can draw and paint a traditional square canvas, she challenges herself with a new project each time she paints a new set of shoes.

Her designs vary from painting TV characters to coordinating shoes to match a school’s mascot and colors and more.

Shelby's Customs
A closeup of the spikes. – Credit: Shelby's Customs

Getting started with shoe painting

Jennings began designing and painting shoes during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to embrace her love for art and to support herself financially.

“I was really bored and knew I liked to do art. I’m also a really big sneaker fanatic. I love shoes,” says Jennings.

The artist explains that she had watched various YouTube videos where people paint their shoes. She thought if they could do it, she could too.

Shelby's Customs
Jennings purchased supplies for making her works of art after watching YouTube videos on the topic. – Credit: Shelby's Customs

“I ordered a bunch of paint. I got all of the supplies. I just started off by painting my own shoes,” explains Jennings.

Shelby's Customs
Basketball homage – Credit: Shelby's Customs

After painting her own shoes, she chose to share her talent online.

“I posted them and it blew up from there. From then on, I started taking orders for shoes. There was a point in time when I was probably customizing 10 pairs of shoes a week,” comments the artist.

The most recent pair she made, for an educator at her high school, took about six hours to complete.

Shelby's Customs
Custom shoes painted by Shelby Jennings for an educator at Park High School. – Credit: Shelby's Customs
Shelby's Customs
A closeup look at the design. – Credit: Shelby's Customs

The young entrepreneur runs a group on Facebook called Shelby’s Customs where people can inquire and see Jennings’ latest creations.

This is how she has sustained a following and grown. At this time, more than 600 people are a part of her group.

Shelby’s Customs: all for a greater purpose

Since her start around July 2020, she’s painted hundreds of shoes and it’s all for the greater good of providing herself with a future.

Jennings is more than an artist.

Shelby's Customs
Shelby Jennings is a senior at Park High School. She is a self-taught artist and custom shoe designer. – Credit: Shelby Jennings

Jennings, who maintains a 3.9 GPA, is a member of the National Honors Society (NHS), Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA), Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA), Black Student Union (BSU), and is a Link Crew leader and mentor for freshman students.

She’s also a multi-sport athlete. This scholar-athlete plays golf, basketball and soccer, and even was a varsity basketball captain.

With her numerous accolades and excellent resume, Jennings is gearing up to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the fall. Currently, she works as a pharmacy technician at CVS pharmacy, as another way to sustain herself.

Jennings is paving – and painting – a path for herself unlike anyone else.

She will be the first in her family to go to college, where she has plans to major in chemistry and pursue PharmD school. Her hope is to make a difference as a Pharmacist one day.

Shelby's Customs
Credit: Shelby's Customs

Until then, Shelby keeps her artwork affordable, ranging from anywhere ranging from $50 to $80, for one-of-a-kind shoes, to continue investing in her artwork and saving for school. Note that prices are subject to change and vary on designs.

Shelby's Customs
Clients come to Jennings with an idea and a pair of shoes they’d like painted. From there Jennings dedicates hours to achieve any desired look. – Credit: Shelby's Customs

Even with her busy schedule, as she gears up for college, she still takes orders for custom shoes. More about Jennings can be found on her Facebook page.


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