While our campus slept, a fusion of culture was alive in the Art Building. Justin Heidrick, a business major and art minor, used room 136 as a venue to house his paintings, custom designed shoes and to unveil his newest work “Sound.” The lights were dim but the Jordans were aglow.
The walls were lined with portraits of artists like Tyler The Creator and Chance The Rapper. Heidrick based the exhibition on an Off-White fashion show, a brand whose energy inspired his latest painting and its presentation.
“The music spoke to me,” said Heidrick. “I tried to take what was embodied by the brand and turn it into a painting.”
After a brief monologue, the audience got a chance to experience “Sound,” enhanced by audio sampled from Off-White’s show. The seven-track mix started with a voiceover from a 1972 episode of BBC’s “Ways of Seeing,” which examines how photography changed the way older works of art are perceived when placed outside the room or frame for which they were created.
“Looking at a painting isn’t a singular thing. It’s more of an experience, an interaction with the viewer,” said Heidrick.
The painting itself reflects an influence of elements from Off-White’s clothing and Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.”
Surprisingly, painting wasn’t always a focus for Heidrick.
“My focus on art started backwards,” Heidrick joked.
In high school, Heidrick’s interest was in basketball and collecting sneakers. It was after he found blogs of custom shoe designers that he decided to try it for himself. Soon, his friends and peers noticed his work and requested pairs for themselves. Through Instagram, fellow shoe enthusiasts encouraged his designs. Now, Heidrick has an Instagram following of over 22,000, where he shares and sells his customized shoes.
Although it was never about the money, Heidrick is happy that his brand, Justwin Customs, now generates enough of a profit for him to keep doing what he loves. Heidrick uses Jordans or other Nike basketball shoes, often looking for collector’s items, retro or older styles. His collection offers a variety of color designs, geometric patterns, intricate sceneries and themed or sponsored designs.
When the NFL dedicated Week 13 to the “My Cause My Cleats” campaign, players were allowed to decorate their cleats, promoting the charity of their choice. Just days before the games, a colleague requested customized cleats for NFL players Cam Newton and Thomas Davis.
Even with finals around the corner, Heidrick was able to design shoes for the players in a matter of hours. In the past, custom shoes had taken up to 30 hours to be perfect.
In addition, Heidrick has been recruited by Sprite and Coca-Cola. After participating in live custom competitions, a curator for the events reached out on behalf of the companies.
“I used to go to the events to buy shoes with my friends. I’d bring some of my designs and hand out business cards. The word of mouth really helped,” said Heidrick.
He’s designed 10 pieces for Sprite’s NBA All-Star weekend, including customized basketballs, records and shoes. Seven of his customs were displayed at the NCAA tournament.
These are just a few of highlights on Heidrick’s resume. From celebrity shoutouts to teaching a custom design class, Heidrick’s experience continues to grow. After he graduates in May, Heidrick wants to see where he can take his company. In school, time is divided, but after the fact he wants to make Justwin Customs his main time commitment.
“I’d like to see how far I can push it,” said Heidrick. “It’s what I’m passionate about and I’m doing it already.”
Eventually, Heidrick hopes to get involved with a footwear company doing product design or color design and theory.