Tulare sneaker artist makes wearable masterpieces for MLB, NFL athletes

20-year-old Brandon Contreras is making a name for himself by painting customized sneakers

TULARE – Brandon Contreras went from discovering his knack for drawing in an art class at Sundale Union Elementary School to painting sneakers for NFL and MLB athletes, all before his 21st birthday. 

Contreras, 20, said he learned of his artistic eye through his seventh grade art class, where he was introduced to the basics of art. 

“I took the art class just because I needed the elective, and then it turned out to be one of the greatest things I have ever done,” Contreras said. 

He went from drawing portraits on canvases to customizing and painting sneakers, a medium he picked up during his sophomore year at Mission Oak High School. It started with him drawing in Sharpie on a pair of Vans, and went from there. 

“I knew it was going to lead me to something big one day,” Contreras said. 

And it did–today, Contreras sells painted and airbrushed sneakers through his business, BXC Customs, and is signed with sneaker customization company Stadium Custom Kicks. He’s designed and painted sneakers for major league athletes like Dylan Lee of the Atlanta Braves, Zach McKinstry of the Dodgers and Andre Maleek Chachere, cornerback for the Philadelphia Eagles. But it all started in Tulare. 

Word of Contreras’ sneaker designs started making its way through the town in 2020, after he painted a pair of cleats for local high school football star Kazmeir Allen. Now a University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruin, Allen smashed records in 2017 when he set the national record for touchdowns at 72 for a single season.

“I actually painted him running the ball on the side of his cleat. It was crazy,” Contreras said. “That was when I was really like, wow, this is something I could do for the rest of my life.” 

After graduating high school that year, Contreras attended College of the Sequoias, where he studied fashion and played on the football team. 

“But then a semester later, I realized that football wasn’t meant for me, and that school wasn’t meant for me,” Contreras said. “My business was starting to get a little slow because I was more focused on school and football. So I left football and I dropped out of college.”

The risk paid off: a few months later, Contreras was contacted by Stadium Custom Kicks, where he is now one of their 26 artists around the world who hand-paint shoes for their customers. 

“Ever since then, most of my customers are MLB players and minor league players,” he said. 

Contreras said he learned the basics of running a successful business from his parents, who own an events equipment rental service in Tulare. They even had a home office built for Contreras, where he paints sneakers and runs BXC Customs. 

“I was just following in their footsteps, really,” Contreras said. “My mom and dad taught me how to work hard at a young age. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” 

Start typing and press Enter to search