Artist uses inspiration to design, sell sneakers

Shannon Freese

The first design senior Collin Sees came up with was just for himself. They were a 15-dollar pair of Common Ked Champion shoes, but to Sees they turned into a blank canvas. When he first bought the shoes, Sees was unaware the hobby would blossom.

Sees used thin-point Sharpie markers to create a masterpiece, transferring years of artistic training into something he was passionate about
— shoes.

“I was sitting in class, and I just got bored, and I was like, ‘Man, this is a good idea; I’ll draw on some shoes,” said Sees, who has taken art classes every year at RBHS. “I came up with some sketches and stuff. I like to use the fine-point markers.”

Those shoes would be the first of many other pairs he would make for himself and his peers.

Sees is in Advanced Placement 1 and Advanced Placement 2 Art, providing training to accompany his natural talent.

“I’ve been doing art since I was young,” Sees said. “My parents love it because they just think it’s creative. I haven’t really ever met anyone who doesn’t like what I do or who thinks it’s a bad idea. Most people are completely supportive and think it’s pretty creative. All my friends and everyone that I’ve come across think it’s awesome.”

Although art classes take up a large portion of his time, Sees finds inspiration in new shoe reviews, allowing him to create more complex designs, like the first pair he made.

Sees drew nighttime on the inside of his shoes, which shifted to daytime on the inside of his heel. He sketched a desert scene on the backs with a C on one and an S on the other for his initials. On the toes, lightning progressed from yellow to green across the top, with roses at the end.

After his desert-lightning shoes made their debut, they sparked an interest and eventually a business. Sees plans to keep the business going into college, but until graduation he will base his sales on high school students.

Although the future of Collin Garrett Sees Custom Shoes is uncertain, Sees is majoring in product and industrial design.

I’ve made “one pair for [senior] Andrew Echternach, [senior] Sarah Rosenhauer, a pair for my grandma, a pair for my sister, [senior] Brooke Eaton, [senior] Jack Schoelz, [RBHS alumnus] Chris Cornell and [senior] Nick Dale,” Sees said. “It might not be as popular at such a big university like [The University of] Texas — Austin, but I hope I’ll keep it going.”

Echternach said he loved his pair and considers them an innovative piece of artwork.

“Collin’s designs are completely revolutionary. Not only do they convey true artistic sensibility, but they also encompass a larger reality, and that is our shoes. … Collin takes that art to a new level,” Echternach said. “I really like the shoes; they’re really personal. They’re all my nerdy things like Star Wars, Pokémon, Spider-Man and Nirvana. I honestly try to preserve them because I like to look at them, but I’ll wear them on special occasions.”

Sees believes he is able to be so creative because of his interest in both shoes and art. He currently owns around 40 pairs of shoes, with Air Jordan 11 Concords being his favorite.

The shoes Sees creates depend on the people he is designing the pair for and what they are interested in. Sees takes this as his chance to prove himself with his new designs and ideas.

“I give people the option of what they want me to design on the shoes. They come up with ideas and say, ‘These are the things that I’m into, and you can go to town on it,’” Sees said, “and then I do my best. And sometimes people will say, ‘I don’t really know what I want on mine; do whatever you want and then I’m able to put my creativity to the test.”
By Shannon Freese