Cycling shoes as canvas: Zusha Bettoun’s custom art for pros and everyday cyclists


“], “filter”: { “nextExceptions”: “img, blockquote, div”, “nextContainsExceptions”: “img, blockquote”} }”>

Don’t miss a moment of Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you >”,”name”:”in-content-cta”, “type “:”link”}}”>join Outside+.

Why are cycling shoes so boring?

A random accident led Zusha Bettoun and her brother Mendel Bettoun into a cottage industry of painting custom cycling shoes for everyone from world champion Ashton Lambie and Los Angeles L39ion pro Skylar Schneider to hundreds of cyclists of all ages. the days with their brand NVR Look Back.

Zusha Bettoun got into cycling about three years ago, and after the artist and architecture student scuffed his shoes, he brought them a Sharpie.

“You know what it’s like, when you first learn how to clip on… I tipped over and my shoe ripped,” said Zusha, who then drew on her shoes to make them look better. ‘Later I posted them to like 15 Facebook cycling groups to sell them online and then people started messaging me,’Hey, can you paint on my shoes?‘ It’s been kind of a spiral since then.

Zusha Bettoun paints each shoe by hand – sometimes with a brush, sometimes with an airbrush and sometimes with toothpicks.

“I love cycling, but a lot of the design is so generic,” he said. “So it became, how much more art can we get out into the world. With shoes, it’s like, how crazy can we get? We’re still very young and learning about space.

Mendel said people’s early comments surprised them and the brothers were also making art kits.

“Ostroy is similar to what we provide,” Mendel said. “There is so much generic design. We started with shoes, then someone hit up for a fundraiser where they wanted some crazy kit. We had to find a clothing manufacturer and I spent four months trying on about 100 different kits.

Mendel said that when they were growing up, his brother was constantly drawing.

“Zush drew on the wall, on the receipts, anything he could get his hands on,” Mendel said.

Now we are the brothers who have also partnered with Watrbotl for custom bottle designs.

When runners send him their shoes, their instructions range from the hyper-specific to the very vague. Zusha struggles with vague direction.

‘I hate it. The totality,’you are the artist thing“, Zusha said laughing. “That said, I have a list of random concepts I’d like to do, so I can make suggestions from there. Some people will be very specific, like ‘Mickey Mouse here, Andy Warhol there.’ things.

A pair painted last year for a pro rally.

“So some people say, ‘Do something in the color blue…'” he said.

Zusha works with very different tools, depending on the task I’m doing, from brushes to airbrushes to toothpicks.

It uses durable paint that can stretch, so the design is permanent not only on cycling shoes but also on sneakers.

Lambie had a pair of his shoes painted with the Polish word Zapierdalac, which is a crude expression meaning “to go very fast” or “to work hard”. He also has that as a tattoo.

Related: Ashton Lambie on his world title strategy, feelings and thought process – and his Zapierdalac tattoo.

“I’ve always been a fan of cycling artists and love the artwork that goes with it,” said Lambie, whose partner Christina Birch made a few pairs of now-retired shoes for him.

For the Zapierdalać shoes (and the tattoo), Lambie explained the origins.

“On European trips with USA Cycling, we worked with a Polish mechanic, Mirek, and his son Patryk was our groomer. They were always saying ‘Zapierdalać’ to us as we headed to the start line, just to go really fast.

Although he has always been an artist, Zusha had never painted with brushes until two years ago.

“For me, art is manifesting what you can see on paper,” he said. “And for me, it has to be as realistic as possible.”

Now, painting on shoes is a leap of faith.

“With each shoe I learn to trust the process. Every time I see the drips on the tape and the dripping from the brush I think ‘oh no’ but the result is awesome,” he said. he declares.

The vegan cyclist is an NVR Look Back customer.

While Zusha paints on used shoes, he strongly recommends people to send him new shoes. It is much easier to prepare a new shoe for painting. “And new shoes don’t smell either,” he said.

Zusha is now a full-time architecture student in Houston, Texas, and paints in his spare time. He and Mendell discussed bringing in other people to paint, “but that’s not what people pay; they pay me to paint their shoes,” Zusha said.

You can check out NVR Look Back’s shoe and apparel designs on the brothers’ website and NVR Look Back Instagram.

A pair painted for Skylar Schneider (L39ion of Los Angeles).


Comments are closed.