WTP’s Lex Pistols takes a Sneak-peek into the world of Australia’s premiere Sneakerhead aficionado, designer / customizer extraordinaire: Sekure D. Check them out, as they build on graf, kicks, design, style, mass consumer culture, individuality vs machine, and much more.
Where people of pop culture are all wearing the same inexpensive, mass consumer, dull-statement pair of fad footwear just to fit in with the rest of the machines- those of strong individuality and distinct character identity are determined to do what is naturally in their creative ability to STAND OUT, and make a statement apart from the mechanical, calculated, weak rhyme scheme of the bubble gum pop that is our mass consumer culture. Enter Sekure D: 26 year old creative one man army, with an arsenal of conceptual custom design by hand to shut down any machine of our current generation. Melbourne Australia gives Walk The Plank today one of its premiere artists, designer, appreciator of arts & culture, fellow sneakerhead, and just generally an all around illmatic dude. In the past, if you were a graffitti writer, it usually accompanied other unique abilities; such as airbrushing on denim jackets, leather jackets, or motorcycle helmets etc. If you were proficient in fine arts- chances are, you would eventually discover, or develop additional talents like say, a tattoo artist, graphic designer, or creative developer of unique design of some sort.
Introduced to the sneaker game through basketball, inspired by comics and cinema, what Sekure D does with paint on stock footwear is what Jordan, Kevin Garnett or Kobe would do on a court: it’s just pure grace, skill, and inherent ability. With several dozen exclusively detailed sneaker models, and several accessories to his credit- one can see why his artwork (even aside from sneaker customization) has appeared in several museums ranging from his home in Australia, to New Zealand, and also London, UK. Even if you’re not a sneakerhead, you will definitely appreciate the artistry behind his work. He customizes a pair of kicks with the ethics of an authentic tattoo artist; meaning, no self-respecting tattoo artist would ever willingly want to do the same exact tattoo twice. That’s the Sekure D philosophy on custom sneaker artwork. THIS, planet earth, is the difference between SOUL and MACHINE. Follow us, as we chop it up in this Q & A on the sneakerhead tip.
LP: So, for the appreciators of impeccable art and skill who are just browsing our site and haven’t been to yours and would like to know about you- what is the origin of the name “Sekure D?”
SEKURE D: Ok this is a true story – and a long one – but I will try making it brief. When I was about 14, I was at this two story cinema complex waiting for a movie to start and we were sitting on the balcony of the second story. I am a massive cinema fan and Naughty by Nature was doing a record signing on the level below us so we were just chillin waiting for them to come out.
Coke was sold in glass bottles still back then and one of my mates passed his bottle to another to have a drink and it slipped from his hand right as NBN walked out, it smashed not two meters [about 6 feet] from them, it totally looked like my mates threw the bottle at them. I didn’t notice I was too busy watching trailers on the big screen across the other side of the balcony, next thing I know my mates are running about 20 meters away from me yelling “SECURITY!!” I looked in the other direction and there was a bunch of enormous security guards running at me, grabbing for their belts so I got out of there quick smart.
We got away and I had just started getting into graffiti and was looking for my word, security was too long so it became Sekure and then later when it came to business registration Sekure D. True story.
LP: Haha all good stories at some point start from a movie theater. I don’t have a cool story behind my name. It just rhymes with a band I liked in a scene I was involved in.
So what’s the sneaker scene like in Australia? There’s mad style presence there that I can see . . . ESPECIALLY on the footwear tip. What are its origins from what you can recall? For example, what subculture originated it there -Streetwear, fashion, music (hip hop for example) etc, or is it just like an artist / design thing? In NY it is predominately rooted in hip hop culture. It’s urban subculture, it goes without saying; your footwear’s gotta be FRESH…
SEKURE D: This is a tough one; I think so many people have different ways they got into the sneaker game. For me it was all basketball related, hip hop came second but I was into Jordans and Pennys as a kid, that’s what got me into kicks. The scene here is great, like anywhere we have resellers and hypebeasts but there is a great core and Sneaker Freaker is made here which helps keep the scene honest!
LP: That’s tight- I always though SneakerFreaker was from England (UK). The sneaker game had gotten REALLY serious here in NY at some
point. People have more sense these days. At one point, it was literally a life and death matter- people were getting shot for their Jordans. A few kids I knew have been stuck up for their kicks when they were much younger. Has it ever been that crazy in Australia?
SEKURE D: Maybe about 15 years ago but not so much these days, I know a kid who got stabbed for a pair of Shaq Reeboks back in the day but I haven’t heard a story about someone being stuck up specifically for their kicks for ages here!
LP: Wow I wouldn’t imagine a pair of Shaq Reeboks being in that high of demand . . . then again, I knew a kid who got robbed for a pair of Asics Gels, so fools will steal anything.
Especially now more with customization, and individuality- I feel it should be like where in graf, writers respect each other’s uniqueness and they don’t bite, (or rip off) someone else’s style out of general respect. I wouldn’t wanna have the same kicks as someone else if I had the choice. The whole consumer idea of footwear is foreign to me. I’d rather do like you do, and if I have to have some exclusives, I’ll create my own (if I can).
Speaking of which, your bio says you have collaborations with several companies regarding apparel and sneaker design. You make mention of Globe, the skateboard footwear company. I’m familiar with them. Which in particular did you design and how much of the design came from your creative vision? What other collaborations have you done and are currently doing?
SEKURE D: To date for Globe I have designed, in order- a Mace Hi, Destroyer, Mace Hi Nitrocel and Mod. Each shoe varies in how much I feel as if I have possession over them and their design but I would say in totality I controlled the majority of the design. When working with a brand its about compromise, budgeting, scheduling and their market strategy and goals are all important consideration when working towards collaboration. I didn’t design a brand new shoe, I created some line art around a few of their popular models and designed on that, re-did a few models and just came up with general colorways and designs to take down.
Other than the Globe jobs, the majority of my collabs will be coming out in the future so I can’t talk about many of them. Some projects have a 16 month lead time so even if I quit today there would still be Sekure D projects drop around 2014, crazy to think of really.
LP: That’s all big in itself. I definitely feel you on the “compromise budgeting, scheduling and market strategy” tip . . . this is all general business practice that ALWAYS must be factored in- and at some point, (for the design heads out there) people should make themselves familiar with these ideas. You can only benefit from more knowledge put into your already innate talents.
How did the Globe thing come about? Nike has a huge fashion identity with their SB line, and skate apparel has become highly sought after in fashion. I’m an old school skater. Do you skate?
SEKURE D: Globe was basically just looking for a collaborative artist and I was in the right place at the right time. I went to my first meeting with something like 30 pages of sketches and ideas I had already worked on and taken upon myself to do without direction and I think that’s probably what got me over the line.
I wouldn’t call myself a skater but I did skate for years as a kid, I was never very good, my area was very hilly so I mastered a few tricks and what not but haven’t been on a deck for years and years. That being said I have my fair share of SBs like any collector.
LP: That’s real fresh. That’s how most people who wanna “Sekure” the slot would usually do it (going in with 30+ sketches already prepared)!
Now that you mention it, I probably shouldn’t call myself a skater either ha ha. I can barely balance on my deck at this point.
Your bio also says you have a background in graf (graffiti). Growing up in NY it’s almost like you can’t have a background that involved graf at some point. What’s the graf scene like in Australia and what was it like comin’ up in that scene? In New York it’s very intense. Its almost psychologically disturbing in ways. It’s more patriotic than any sport, or religion. People have died over turf wars, or cross-out beefs, the “Vandal Squad” division of the New York Police Department would beat you down at times . . . it’s classified as a Felony now if you get arrested for it. Its pretty heavy.
Kids have taken it too far I think. It used to be that if you were a toy, you just KNEW better. You wouldn’t even attempt to get down- just out of respect for the art or fear of getting your ass kicked or something . . . one of the two. One of my boys did a documentary called “State Ya Name” about some of New York’s biggest graf writers. It was really like a religion here. Is the graf scene that intense in Australia?
SEKURE D: I gotta say first of all that I wouldn’t consider myself a graffiti artist really, just an artist. The reason I mention graffiti so many times is because I have no formal art training and everything I have learned about color and composition for instance I learned painting late at night on the tracks. Graffiti is important to me for that reason and I still paint every now and then but not as much as I used to, I have probably only ever really done a few hundred pieces.
I started painting when I was like 14 or 15 I can’t remember too well but didn’t get too heavy into it until I was 18 and could drive to spots at night, I don’t live close to a train line. I am 26 now and am lucky to paint once a month so I am not sure I am the authority to answer too many of these questions but what I am confident about is the depth of talent we have here. It’s insane, the amount of talented writers is ridiculous when you consider our population and lack of community support.
I know growing up with lots of mates who painted there was always beef and fights but that was mainly adolescent garbage, most of the guys I know now who paint have families and are older, something serious really has to go down for there to be an issue but I am fairly out of the loop these days I just do it for my own amusement and satisfaction.
LP: Wow… a few HUNDRED pieces. I have maybe two or three on a wall total . . . I have a great respect for the graf game, I just didn’t get deep into it like some of my boys who were down with the biggest NY graf crews. I would love to start bombing and doing burners these days, but for me the law regarding that (or anything for that matter) is not really on my side.
You mention some of your artwork has been featured in museums (National Gallery of Victoria, Victoria & Albert Museum in London) What works?
SEKURE D: The National Gallery of Victoria had an exhibition on sneakers back in about 2006 and I had a bunch of customs and sneakers from my own collection featured, and then in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum they had an exhibition “Fashion Vs Sport” and I was lucky to be one of three customizers to have their sneakers featured. Although I have not been to the V&A I know just how big and important this museum is and it was a great honor, I have to get over there one day and see it for myself, maybe next year.
LP: You recently had a showing at Comic Con just a few days ago [in June] What was that like?
SEKURE D: This was my first con and what really convinced me to do it was that it was an official Comic Con event and of course that Stan Lee was there. It was a fantastic experience, I was able to meet a lot of people that like my work as well as a ton of people that had never seen it before.
I was not personally able to meet Stan Lee . . . however I did get my brother to like, up and purchase me a limited edition print of his and get it signed which will be framed and placed up in my studio shortly.
I learned a lot from my two days there and I will definitely be doing more cons in the future, its a great opportunity to talk to like minded artists and supporters and I will bring with me a whole new range of products like beanies and prints so that I have more accessible price points for everyone.
LP: Now that we’ve gotten some personal stuff out of the way, I would like to get into the DESIGNS- into some of the STYLE and TECHNIQUE of your work. This is easily the illest I’ve personally ever seen- and I’ve seen some shit in my time. I used to hit up all the sneaker events RELIGIOUSLY. Never have I seen such applied detail and execution of such creative vision like yours bro. Cheers to that. I checked Diversitile a while back, who are also fresh (if you readers don’t know them check them out they’re ill too). They had a fresh pair of Freddy Krueger dunks a while back . . . they have mad sick designs. Your collab with them is EXTRA tight . . . There was more than one set made for that collab. That must’ve taken a minute, but STILL each one has distinct features from the next if you look close . . . DANK!
With that said, do you feel comfortable explaining or showing us what media you use for each design and how exactly it is done? Is it the same for all models? Some artists are very reluctant to disclose technique methods. I feel its safe to say that any biters, after reading this and seeing your work, even with knowing the technique would not wanna bite your style… Its also fair to say that by the time they catch up to your arsenal you’d by then have a brigade of apprentices anyway. Haha.
SEKURE D: Thank you for the kind words. Firstly I am mates with the Diversitile boys and they are one of the few people still pushing the custom sneaker scene, a few of us still care about originality!
I have no problem showing people my techniques because its not just technique that builds your name, it’s what happens in between your ears that’s priceless. I created the Custom Sneaker Forum for this reason and have written a full “how to” guide for Sneaker Freaker magazine dedicated to teaching people how to paint kicks. To give you guys all the tips and tricks would take a whole article in itself so I suggest people peep that article, I give away tons of trade secrets, you can find it online.
Outside of all the usual, Angelus paints, paintbrushes, acetone and varnish stuff I tell people the most important things you can have to be good is creativity and patience. Both these things are invaluable and are what is needed to make an epic pair of kicks, no matter how good you are if you rush or don’t conceptualize properly then you’re gonna be left with a B-Grade product.
LP: How long is the process to finish one shoe generally? Also, is there a prior step before the paint process- such as a stripping of the PREVIOUS paint, or a cleaning of any kind? Does the sneaker have to be “primered” in any way, so to speak- just as a car is before its painted?
SEKURE D: Yeah you prime the leather with an application of acetone to help the paint bond to the sneaker, this is painstaking and boring and well bad for your health but it’s the most essential step to ensure durability. You customizers out there charging $700 but skipping this process to punch out new work for the blogs we know who you are!
I have spent about 60 or more hours on kicks before but like anything you get better over time. I would say a pair now takes me anywhere from 10 – 20 hours, this is where quoting for a job comes into it.
When you think about how long it takes to get to where I am, well that’s taken 8 years, I wouldn’t ever recommend being a sneaker customizer as a profession to anyone, its not glamorous or sustainable, look at the guys who do it for jobs, we all do much more than paint kicks.
LP: Blogs . . . Hahaha the blog game is REAL!! The blog game has become like the graf game now: Who’s got more blogs- quantity over quality, common in many industries; disposable, dispensable.
I feel you on the customizer as a profession tip. That goes without saying for any art. You usually have to do MORE to supplement your total living expenses (sometimes crime)! I admire that you disclosed your technique for customizing. I stopped the sneaker addiction partly because of the mass production, mainstream presence, lack of tight exclusivity, and also how easy it is for counterfeiters to bootleg the most exclusive kicks.
Do you feel the soul of the sneaker game has been taken over by the mass identity and accessibility of the sneaker culture now? It isn’t as subculture as it used to be. I think sometimes as if I walk down the street and hundreds of other kids have the same exact kicks I just bought, that are SUPPOSED to be “limited editions.” I feel you preserve the culture and authenticity of the game with what you do, and furthermore by showing exactly HOW you do it.
SEKURE D: There was a long period there where I got down about all the limited editions coming out and hype killing the scene but by the same token the fact that there is so many sneaker heads now even if they are faux sneaker collectors or just in it for the cash means there is a ton more stuff coming out.
You don’t have to be wearing Jordan IVs for a real collector to see you and know you know whats up! You have have on a pair of Puma Discs, New Balance made in London or something else that’s rad or exclusive to another country to stand out. I just wear less mainstream kicks these days because as you said, nothing’s worse than standing in line next to someone who has the same kicks on as you, ESPECIALLY if yours are the OG and they have the retro. That is pretty much the reason I started to custom as well, having a one of a kind meant that was never going to happen to me.
LP: With that said, do you ever do design by request, such as how an idea is given to a tattoo artist, and then the artist materialises it? Have any celebrities ever come to you for designs?
SEKURE D: Definitely, but not to sound harsh, most of the ideas I get are pretty bad, just not right for sneakers or just the whole trying to stack 10 pounds of crap into a 5 pound bag scenario. What I do is not replicate or make a direct link to a theme but reinterpret it with my own styling and make it represent the character. Sometimes this isn’t what the customer is after so I send them elsewhere, if I am going to create something it needs to represent me otherwise what’s the point of getting me to paint it, right?
I am not one of those guys with a big celebrity clientele, being in Australia isn’t overly conducive to this situation and the experiences I have had trying to work with celebrities to date was just really frustrating, their stylists to date have been unbearable. I am absolutely still open to the idea of working for ‘celebrities’ but the project has to be right, I am not going to make them some rehashed limited design on a pair of different kicks or give them free kicks because they rap or play ball.
LP: Understandable. What inspires your graphics and designs then? You mention in your bio you’re a huge fan of cinema and comic books.
Also, as far as comic books, did you ever grow up favouring any comic book illustrators, old or new?
SEKURE D: My favorite comics and graphic novels growing up were Spawn, Swamp Thing, Sin City and of course Watchmen, I actually have a Watchmen themed tattoo. Like I mentioned earlier I have no art training so I learned everything reading comics and looking at the illustrations and so forth.
My main inspirations are still comics, cinema and old cartoons, they just don’t make cartoons like they used to, Transformers, Dino Riders, Samurai Pizza Cats, The Tick, what’s this Ben 10 business?
LP: I’m with you on the cartoon tip, conceptually and graphics wise (well the graphics to date have pretty decent style I believe, but the concepts for today’s cartoons: not so fresh). As far as custom design (my whole crew- we’re all gear heads and design our own gear as well), what have you done other than kicks, involving paint- such as jackets, or anything else?
SEKURE D: Not much custom apparel other than shoes, I did a few pairs of jeans back in the day otherwise it’s just vinyl toys and skateboards really.
LP: The Vinyl toys, that’s a line you’ve got for Kid Robot isn’t it? Could you elaborate on that?
SEKURE D: I take that as a compliment but they are all customs as well bro! Its a refreshing change to make the toys as well as the shoes and everything else I do, it just gives me something else to focus on and being a bit of a nerd its a ton of fun to make them. I really hope to collaborate with a vinyl toy company one day but it hasn’t happened as of yet.
LP: Also, lastly- As a fellow sneakerhead, what are your all time favourite kicks (even if you do not own them anymore), from any point in time, and why? (personal reasons, sentimental reasons, and style wise are all applicable). Also, what kicks have you seen RECENTLY that you NEEDED to have, or don’t have yet, and or the all time favourite ones that got away. I remember recently I was looking on Ebay for almost a year and a half for the PERFECT pair of Nike Agassi tennis trainers: the neon yellow white and blue ones. After I paid a grip for them on Ebay, 2 months later they “re-issued” or “retroed” them exactly as they looked originally. I was so pissed.
SEKURE D: I feel your pain on the retro front, I usually buy something and then stash it for a while so everyone who is rocking them has beaten them or has retired them before I bring stuff out now. It feels like by the time I am ready to rock something these days they are announcing it coming back out, it’s killing my rotation and game plan. As for favorite sneakers I get asked this all the time, I guess I will just list my favorite 5 or 6, it always changes though. I own all these, then I will mention some I wish I had.
• Nike Zvezdochka
• Nike Air More Uptempo Olympic Edition
• Air Jordan XIV
• Nike Nort Dunk High
• Puma Disc
• Adidas ZX 7000 Atmos
• Reebok Shaqnosis
• Nike Zoom Lebron 2
There would be tons more but I cannot think of any. As for things I wish I had or missed, I can probably think of a few:
• Nike Dunk High SB Unkle
• New Balance 1500 Collette x LA MJC
• Nike Dunk High Haze collab
• Nike Lebron 2 SVSM
• Air Max 90 Bacon
LP: The Puma Discs were so fresh I think when they first came out with that idea I feel. I had the air max 90’s in a couple colorways. Those are one of my all time favs from Nike. I always liked the original purple and black, and then the Olympic colors (I forget what year that was… 90 something). I think I saw the bacon’s on ebay recently- not new, but still $$$$. The sneaker addiction…
Check Out a Few More of His Many Designs
For those who wonder how Rock n’ Roll and a sneaker addiction tie in with those like us who have good taste and, well, decent common sense- here are some examples:
And finally, we’d like to honor all sneakerheads with a nice outro: a sexy model in a pair of 90 Air Max’s courtesy of nikedunkshigh.blogspot.com
For a up close detailed look of some Bad-Assery action: