Ken Turner

Ever since I could hold a pencil, I was a habitual doodler.  I'd doodle on napkins, paper bags, desktops (and spent many recesses cleaning desks as a reward for my creations) - you name it.  I have a few of my old grade school and high school notebooks and the margins are virtually covered in scribbles and drawings.

I started making custom Converse out of necessity more than anything else.  I'm a Converse collector and I wear them frequently.  I have over 30 pair, however here in Canada, the really funky designs are difficult to come by and they tend to be expensive.  One day I thought to myself 'Why not just make my own Converse?'.  And so I did.  And they were terrible.  BUT . . . they were'nt terrible enough to deter me from trying again.  And again.  And again.  It took a few tries but I managed to work out some kinks in my approach (black sucks as a base colour and Sharpies run if you get them wet without sealing them first, for example).  Soon, armed with an assortment of fabric pens, fabric paint and brushes, Sharpies and Mod Podge (for sealing the ink and rendering it water resistant), I was whipping out shoes faster than a bunch of rabid monkeys at a podiatrist convention (I dunno what that means - remember when I said things whirl through my head?  That was one of them).

The process is relatively simple.  I draw out the design on the shoe, and then simply start painting.  Recently I've been experimenting with 3D designs with relative success.  I have a pair of Spider-Man/Venom shoes that have black goop attacking the Spidey image and a Ghostbusters pair that have been slimed with ectoplasm.  I also have a Freddy Krueger shoe that is ripped and torn, exposing Freddy's signature singed flesh below the green and red striped fabric.  I've also managed to get a few of these designs into the hands of some celebrities - Henry Winkler, John Schneider, Ernie Hudson from Ghostbusters, Dave Thomas from Bob and Dough MacKenzie and SCTV, and Lou Ferrigno.

1. BatVillain - I'm a huge Batman fan (I have a room in my home dedicated solely to The Dark Knight).  These were one of my early attempts with fabric markers.  They turned out pretty well, I think.

2. Spidey with Venom creeping from opposite side. I plan to get these signed by Stan Lee this summer.  This is a display piece so I used Sharpies, though the Venom is gobs of black fabric paint.

3. Venom side of Spidey shoe. Venom is supposed to be oozing out from under the Converse button.

4. Fonzie Shoe. This was one of my first designs.  I used Painty pens and Sharpies.  I got Henry Winkler to sign this and I gave him the other shoe.

5. Freddy Krueger shoe. It was white.  I used Sharpies for the stripes, then cut away sections of fabric, made burned flesh with a mold made from one of my kid's Venom toys and liquid latex.  I put the painted latex under the fabric, quickly stitched it in place and viola.

6. Ghostbusters shoe. I used fabric paint (the ghost glows in the dark BTW) and latex.  I also got this signed by Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore)

7. Slimed side of Ghostbusters shoe. Built up using liquid latex and toilet paper, then painted with fabric paint.

8. Hulk Shoes. Simple Sharpie cartoon on white fabric.  I cut away the purple, stitched the art swatch inside and that was about it.  Got them signed by Lou Ferrigno.

9.  General Lee. Basic Painty pen stuff here.  But I got them signed by John Schneider, who thought they were cool.  "These are cool," he said.  That's how I knew.

10. Me and John Schneider

11. Me, Ernie Hudson, and my buddy Ben

12. Me, Henry Winkler, and my buddies Ben and Ryan

Contact Ken Turner

I do accept commissions, and the details can be found on the website Art and Sole Designs or email  They do tend to be expensive, largely due to the cost of the shoe here in the Great White North but also the time and energy involved in creating a unique, one-of-a-kind piece.

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