Cody Cameron’s custom shoe business has led him to a myriad of places he never thought a regular guy like him would be — backstage at the Commodore Ballroom, the basement of Celebrities Night Club, the talent area of the Shambhala Music Festival.
And his latest gig was no different.
Sitting in the corner of a conference room at the Cloverdale Holiday Inn last Monday, dozens of rugged guys, dressed in cut-off T-shirts, jeans and skate shoes, helped themselves to a free buffet of pizza before pulling back chairs at the round banquet tables.
Near the front of the room, where a small stage was set up, sat skateboard legend Per Welinder — one of the original members of the Bones Brigade — and the sole reason Cameron received an exclusive invite to the after party for the Cloverdale Rodeo’s World Freestyle Roundup Skateboard Championships.
Welinder, who played Michael J Fox’s stunt double in Back to the Future and launched Birdhouse Skateboards with infamous skateboarder Tony Hawk, was Cameron’s latest client for his hand-painted shoes.
“He’s a pretty big skateboard icon, it was pretty surreal meeting somebody who is so influential in the freestyle community,” the 24-year-old Langley artist said.
Operating under Shed Designs — named after the 10 X 12 shed Cameron and his high school friends used to hangout at — he has created hundreds of custom Vans in the past five years for some big names in the entertainment industry.
Cameron’s client list boasts several world-renowned DJs including Skrillex, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Diplo, Kaskade, Dillon Francis and 12th Planet, rappers Snoop Dogg, French Montana and Raekwon (see photo below), and even local talents Swollen Members.
“One of the coolest people I’ve met is Dillon Francis. He was just so grateful for the shoes, he kept hugging me over and over and over again,” Cameron said.
“When I met DJ Jazzy Jeff, they were actually filming a video documentary about his trip around. He was extremely grateful, just so happy to get the shoes.
“It’s kind of funny, especially when the guys haven’t seen the shoes before, because they are completely awestruck about it and it completely blows their mind that someone would do that for them.
“It’s pretty rad.”
Cameron’s obsession with custom Vans began in high school after seeing a pair made on an episode of Miami Ink. Always wanting to try his own, he finally got the opportunity to after breaking his shoulder at the age of 19.
“I had nothing to do while my shoulder was broken, so I tried it and put it on Facebook and people started to like it and buy it,” he explained.
Many of Cameron’s designs are hand sketched out, while others, such as logos, are carefully traced on to the shoes with a projector. Using acrylic paint, Cameron then fills in the designs, with some taking as much as 12 hours to complete. After drying, a waterproof top coat is applied to ensure the paint does not come off.
Although he still does not make enough money off his shoes to quit his day job as a landscaper, Cameron says he is constantly fuelled with motivation to create.
“When you’re not making a constant paycheque, people seem to run away from it. But I’ve done things in the last five years that a lot of people I know will never get to do in their lifetime,” he said.
“If you don’t take the opportunity that you get, five seconds later it could be gone and you’ll never get that opportunity again. So you got to be on your toes about it. There’s no certainty of getting a paycheque every second Friday — you have to work for it.
“I get the drive to go for the endless opportunity. It’s self-creation, it’s self-paid, self-hired, self-made.”
To see more of Cameron’s work, visit his retail location at the Basement by Loyal Coalition, 235 Cambie St. in Vancouver, or his Facebook Page, Shed Designs.