Cool People #3 – Rachelle Williams
Rachelle Williams loves video games and comics, and she also happens to be an artist whose son requested a pair of shoes that didn’t exist. So she started painting custom shoes featuring characters from Nintendo and World of Warcraft. Could there be a much better reason to feature Williams in our “Cool People” series? She exchanged emails with Pads & Panels in early May to discuss her shoes and custom art company Paradox Artistry.
Name: Rachelle Williams
Location: Noblesville, Ind.
Interview by: Bill Jones
When and why did you start putting paint to kicks?
My son wanted Mario shoes and I couldn’t find them anywhere, so I tried painting on canvas shoes and it came out great. From there, people started asking where I got them and if I could make them a pair.
What kind of art background do you have?
I’ve worked for a couple of companies doing web and media design. I occasionally do murals for people. Right now I’m working on a mural at my son’s school.
Do you design anything other than shoes?
I use all kinds of different art medias. I paint murals and canvas; I sculpt with clay, and even sew and crochet. I’m working on lots of things other than shoes, such as gamer jewelry, crocheted Mario hats, felt accessories and other goodies. I hope to have them posted on my website by June/July 2009.
It seems like many of the shoes you’ve done thus far are based on video games? Do you just like the visual aspect of the gaming characters, or are you a gamer? If so, what are some of your favorite games?
I guess you could call me a gamer. I’ve had a game boy on me at all times since I was a kid. I grew up with the NES and a Sega Genesis. I would play Mario, Zelda and Sonic – most of the popular games back then. It just stuck with me as I got older. I continued to play Mario and Zelda games and got into RPGs. I love the Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest and Castlevania games. Mario games are always fun. My first MMORPG was Ultima Online, I loved it… Kingdom Hearts is another fave. I love World of Warcraft, but I had to take a break; it was taking up just a little too much of my time. Once I get my products up and some big projects out of the way, I’ll start playing again.
What other things influence your designs? You mentioned a pair of Justice League shoes on the way…
Yes. I love comics and the next shoes I make (that aren’t by request) are going to be Justice League shoes. All my favorite heroes on one shoe and maybe the villains on the other. I really want to make a pair, and I haven’t had a chance to make comic inspired shoes yet. Right now I have three requests lined up – Death Note, Star Trek and Hello Kitty. I’m excited for the Death Note-inspired pair. I watch a lot of anime and would like to make shoes based off of them.
Is art a profession for you? Do you make any money off these projects? If not, what is your day job?
I’ve had a few jobs in the art field, but right now I’m mainly a mom. I paint murals for different companies and residents on occasion to help with the bills. Painting murals is fun, but also time consuming and exhausting. I have two little boys that keep me busy, and I would love to paint and make products from home so I can be with them more. I typically work on my projects through their naps and after they go to bed, so it works out well.
Are these boots made for walking, or display only?
I use high quality acrylic paints, and then I varnish them so the color won’t fade or wash away. They are defiantly wearable. The paint should last as long as the shoes themselves. My son has worn his over and over again to the park and splashing in puddles. They are a bit dirty but the paint still looks great.
Your site says you take custom requests. Have you ever received any really crazy requests? Do you want to stay focused on games and cartoons, or are you willing to try anything people ask for?
Yes, I am taking custom orders, but no crazy requests yet. I enjoy painting video games but I would like to branch out. I can paint just about anything I see, and I’m willing to paint whatever someone would request…yes, even nudity.
How much time goes into one pair of shoes?
It all depends on what you want on the shoes. I’ve spent as little as 2 hours and as long as 15 hours on a pair. A simple Mario character typically takes me around 2 to 3 hours. When someone places a custom order I usually tell them seven to 14 days to process, although I ship them by the seventh day on average.
What is the next big project for you?
I have a booth for the Fisher’s Freedom Festival. It’s a local craft festival that’s pretty big around here. I’m trying to make products for that and my website. It’s the weekend of June 27. On top of that, my son’s school wants to sign me up for a few more murals. So I have a pretty big summer ahead of me.
Anything else readers should know?
I have information and past designs up on my website. I try to work with customers to make custom shoes affordable for them. For now, all of my sales are made through my Etsy store. I can sketch a design upon request and will send a quote with it. I’m full of ideas for shoe designs so don’t be afraid to discuss a pair with me.
Cool People is a series dedicated to giving attention to some cool people who aren’t necessarily game developers, comic writers or artists, but have caught the attention of our crew by doing cool things related to those forms of media. Readers who think they or someone they know deserves to be featured in “Cool People” can send an email to padsandpanels[at]gmail[dot].com