Student at FAMU finds niche customizing shoes

Dragon Ball Z inspired Nike Air Force 1's 
Photo credit: Adriana Alexander

Knowing how to draw pictures of your thoughts and make them look stunning can be a hard task to accomplish, and not everyone is born with artistic abilities. For Elijah Rutland this is not true.

Rutland, who is a first-year business administration student from Macon,GA  is a custom shoe artist at Florida A&M University (FAMU). From his Bob Marley inspired Nike Air Force Ones to his banana yellow, sky blue Minion Vans, Rutland has left his customers and his fellow peers in awe of his talent.

“Wow, this is amazing! He did those himself? I need him to customize my shoes for me,” said Kayla Dennis, a pre-physical therapy student, when she scrolled through his Instagram page.

Rutland began drawing when he was in kindergarten. He started by drawing on paper to perfect his craft. It was in the second grade when Rutland began to take his drawing seriously. He said because his parents could not afford to purchase the Jordans or Nikes he wanted he decided to take matters into his own hands.

The business student said he asked one of his parents to take him to Goodwill for some affordable shoes and to Walmart for a few bottles of paint and paint brushes. As soon as he got home, he attempted to draw what he drew on paper onto the cheap shoes he purchased. Although he says it was a major fail, it pushed him to want to be the best artist he could be.

As time progressed, his shoe designs went from sub-par to jaw dropping. Since the advancement of his skill, his accomplishments has included being featured on his local news station in Macon and winning “Mr. Entrepreneur” at the Fang Awards at FAMU. Rutland has been making his mark on campus since the day he stepped foot on the grounds.

“I feel like his shoes are innovative. His artwork is relatable, inspirational, and something different that you’d never see around here.” Zachary Might, a second-year music industry student said.

Although shoe designing is his niche, Rutland is a true artist in many other aspects.

Being a business student, Rutland is striving to make a career out of custom shoe designing.

“I draw on pretty much anything. I began with shoes, but I also customize jackets, book bags, hats, chairs, and canvases. I even painted a mural at my high school in Georgia,” Rutland said. ”I don’t know what the future holds, but I want to be a full time visual artist after graduation. I want to take a job in the creative field at a company.”

Rutland is a FAMU student who stepped out on faith and believed in his dreams. People continue to be left jaw dropped after witnessing his creativity and he continues to take control of his brushes and earning his own money.