El Chuco Inspirations: Local artist showcases custom-made sneakers, how you can support

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EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — From Cobra Kai designs to desert landscapes, meet the young El Paso artist who’s taking steps to separate herself and changing the kicks game with her custom-made sneakers.

Carla Padilla a.k.a. “Cee Dubb”/ Photo by photojournalist Johnny Munoz

Local artist Carla Padilla, also know as “Cee Dubb,” was surrounded by creatives growing up.

“My mom, she’s a cosmetologist so I would always see her with her little sketch paintings and stuff like that that she would have to do for work,” Padilla shared. “My dad, he had drawings himself, but he would hide them and I would see them and be like, ‘Woah, that’s pretty cool.’ Also, my grandma as well. She was always painting and she would always just encourage me to paint with her so I would.”

With a passion for sketching and a love of shoes, Carla began customizing sneakers. She started off painting her own. “I had to start painting on all of my shoes which I didn’t really like but now I do. I paint all of my shoes. I just look at them and think, “Okay, that looks a little boring.”

Entering her third year of designing custom-made sneakers, Carla said it’s been a gradual learning process.

“There’s a whole process — if you’re painting on leather, canvas, if you’re trying to dye suede — a lot of people want to try and paint the soles, but it’s rubber so the paint will come off. So I’ll just let them know, ‘What size, what shoe, do you already have it?’ But usually, I like to provide everything so it’s just one smooth process,” Padilla explained.

You can see some of Padilla’s art on shoe brands and types like Vans, Converse, Nikes and even Jordans. This up-and-coming artist says she’s received a handful of orders, which leaves her feeling overwhelmed at times, yet grateful for the growing support.

“I get a little bit lost. You know, everyone who paints, they say, ‘Hey look at this painting,’ and when I’m painting, I’m like, ‘Wow this is what people do for fun.’ I’m doing it for fun, but I don’t know when I think about it, it’s a little weird,” Padilla said. “Like this is my artwork and people are wearing it around, and it has my name on it or people see it and there’s videos about it.”

Padilla said her main support system always comes from those closest to her.

“I’ve always had my mom, my grandma, my dad, stepmom. They always tell me that my work looks pretty good or that I’m progressing. My best friends again, they just tell me every single time that my work is getting good. So that was mainly all that I needed and then finally I was able to get more followers, being here in this art gallery space, there’s more and more people,” Padilla shared.

While sharing a space at an art gallery in Socorro named “Casa Ortiz,” Padilla said she’s learning from other artists working around her.

“It’s really awesome and they’re very supportive. They give advice, we’re all around and we get to see the different types of sculptures that they do and the meanings and stories behind them,” Padilla said. “It just makes me want to keep doing it and to inspire others to do as well.”

As she continues growing as an artist, Padilla wants to encourage other rising creatives in El Paso to take a leap, express themselves and not hold back.

“Even with or without the support, you just have to continue going. Have confidence in yourself, have the discipline to keep going, it doesn’t matter the feedback,” Padilla said. “Constructive criticism — take that and keep going. Keep your head down and eventually, it will pay off.”

For a look at Padilla’s work, check out her Instagram: @ceedubbscustoms.

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