Techie-turned-entrepreneur Rahul Dev always wanted to do something in arts and crafts. “I have been decent at anything to do with arts and crafts, except painting. I was sure I can’t paint to save my life. I never liked using paints and brushes; all I did was sketch and occasionally colour. However, eight years ago, being a Chelsea fan, I wanted a Chelsea FC jersey, but I couldn’t afford it. I still wanted something Chelsea-themed. But as painting a T-shirt just didn’t feel right, I went ahead and painted a pair of converse. That’s how it all actually began. I kept painting shoes for my friends and family for fun till 2016 when a friend suggested that I start an Instagram page. And I created my handle, @unhingedcustoms,” says Rahul, founder, Unhinged Customs.
Unhinged Customs makes customised, vibrant shoes influenced by pop culture. So with his hand-painted Pokemon, Batman or Dora designs on the shoes, Rahul began turning canvas shoes into works of art, and soon people started asking about his work after seeing pictures of his artwork on Facebook and Instagram. No wonder, his shoes gained popularity, and celebrities such as actress Soha Ali Khan and comedian Daniel Fernandes got their shoes painted by Rahul.
“I researched and customised shoes for Soha Ali Khan based on her life, education and family. The shoes have geometric patterns outside, but the side panel of the shoes is filled with references of her college and family life,” shares Rahul of his work for the Bollywood actress.
Creating pieces of wearable art
The unique hand-painted prints on each pair of foot art are, understandably, limited-editions. “Presently, I only make a maximum of three pieces of a particular design. Some of the pieces are creations that I can assure no one else in the world has,” claims Rahul.
The majority of Rahul’s inspiration comes from nature, anime, cartoons and other artists who do custom-artwork as he does. The rest of it, he tells us, comes from professionals such as fashion designers, sculptors, illustrators, graffiti artists and bakers. “I believe there’s inspiration to be drawn from everything out there in the world,” chips in Rahul.
Additionally, customers of Unhinged Customs also describe their ideas to Rahul, using which he comes up with a one-of-a-kind design-his “piece of wearable art”.
Rahul uses acrylic paint. So presently, he works only on slip-on canvas shoes, wallets and jackets, materials that acrylic works best on. Rahul, who quit his job in 2018 to take up this vocation full-time, is working on getting a website up and running to further streamline the process of orders and supplies.