Hailing from Southern Indiana, Bryan Head, like most Indiana-based artists, has a “real” job. A third-shift factory worker living in Evansville, Indiana, he began customizing sneakers a year ago, and never in his wildest dreams imagined he’d be the winner of a sneaker art competition.
“It feels unreal. I still can’t believe that I won. Good thing I was wearing my mask. My mouth was literally hanging open with disbelief,” he told me over Zoom recently shaking his head as he recalled the moment his victory was announced.
With a graphic design degree from Vincennes University, Head has been channeling his artistic skills into a myriad of modes of expression, from painting murals and corn hole boards, to sewing cosplay costumes for his kids, to etching vases and painting on shoes. It’s clear that he loves art and artistic expression deeply.
Some might be surprised to learn that the 41 year old father of two boys is not a sneakerhead, and that he fell into customizing sneakers when his cousin asked Head to paint a pair of shoes for him. Not knowing if he could do it, Head nonetheless decided it couldn’t hurt to try. When his kids saw how well the shoes turned out, they begged him to customize pairs for them. He put photos of his work on Instagram, and other requests started pouring in. Recently he’s been customizing cleats.
He admits that the more sneakers he’s painted, the more interested he’s become in using them as a canvas. While Air Force Ones seem to be shoes that most people want customized, Head says he enjoyed the challenge of painting on PUMAs. He applied to participate to see if he could hold his own against others, and was humbled to beat out the other 38 artists.
“I’m a shy person and also very critical of my artwork. I did not plan to win. I just wanted to put myself out there and see what I was capable of. I still want to touch up those shoes. If I could have had another hour, I could have made those shoes 10 times better!”
The dream is to quit the factory job and start customizing shoes full-time, but until he’s earning enough to pay his bills and health insurance, that’s going to be tough to do. Still, winning the competition could be a game-changer. Other than receiving a $500 Finish Line gift card, Head will also be commissioned by PUMA to recreate his winning design on ten pairs of sneakers, which will then be split between him, PUMA, Finish Line, Martk’d and PATTERN to be raffled off in order to give the artist more visibility and raise his profile in the custom sneaker universe. The hope is that Head will parlay the win into additional opportunities to help him become a full-time artist; in the meantime, he plans to continue honing his skills so that he can defend his title in 2022 when MARTK’D x PATTERN returns to Indianapolis for another competition.
Show Bryan some love and follow his adventures on IG: @ht_customkickz