2000words with Jake Danklefs of Dank Customs

Editor’s Note: 2000words.org was originally a site started by Kevin Moore in 2007. The first blog dedicated to custom sneakers. Right about the same time Kevin gave his project a break, I found customizing still needed it’s own site amongst all the other sneaker jargon. I began PaintOrThread in February 2009 to carry on his concept. Nearly 5 years later we kick off an interview series to bring back the spirit of 2000words. Enjoy!-Brandon Laskowski

What’s your government name and artist name?

Jake Danklefs aka JWDANKLEFS and Dank Customs

How long have you been customizing and what got you started? A specific shoe or artist?

I’ve been customizing for the past five or six years but only for the past year and a half pretty serious. I’ve been in the sneakers since the mid 90s but really got into it heavy around 2006. The idea of having a nice shoes was great but the idea of having shoes that nobody else has was even better. The Orchard Street project was a major influence on me. Its what really got me going in customizing and marketing my pieces.

It’s amazing when you look back how simple they were and what a stir they caused. Did you replicate yourself a pair of these? What’d you think of the second pair they released? 

Yeah the OS dunks in my opinion set a bar, they found a way to market their material in the most guerrilla way possible. Wanted posters of the shoe slapped all over NYC and shoes slung over power lines and trees and all kinds of stuff. It was amazing! I did end up making both the first and second pairs for myself though. Word to Rolo aka Dunksrnice, I ended up calling them Poorman Orchard Streets but the cool thing about them is I made them in the exact fashion that the OS guys did. I took an ’03 Brazil Euro dunk and an ’03 St. John’s dunk and made them with the same paints and materials and cuts. I just had to.



Would I still pay gobs for a real pair if they popped up in my size, most definitely. I even am part of a group of guys that put on the Sneaks Up Sneaker Show in San Antonio and a few years back we adopted the OS marketing design and now put on a scavenger hunt every year he week of the show where we give away 5 pairs of customs I did, numbered of course, with a special 1 of 1 to be raffled off at the show. Its cool, the shoes are free to find, brings the community together and creates a great buzz for the show.



Also the OS dunks are #1 on your greatest custom sneaker list. It’s great to see a true list compiled over the years of custom sneakers. There’s been a few lists lately that just look like someone typed #customsneakers and posted their results. As an artist and collector is that insulting?

As for my “Custom best of” list, for obvious reasons I chose the OS dunks as my #1. And 95% of the others on that list 95% of sneaker enthusiasts nowadays have probably never seen. A lot of the best work is done by guys that just do it for themselves. They did it long before customs became the in thing to do and long before Instagram followers and likes was around. They had no one to impress but themselves so they took on a design they wanted to execute to the fullest and not have to worry about a 1000 people wanting to recreate it because it looks like a South Beach. I’m ranting now, but yes seeing other lists that get compiled can be insulting sometimes. Most of the time, the colorway rip with the most hype around it is the most popular, no matter how bad the artist executed it.

There’s nothing wrong with ranting. I feel like people are in a rush to beat out other artists and sacrifice quality to be first.

The Nike Dunk SB Supa retro. Incredible moment. Your name was everywhere, tell us about the fall out of that. Any contact from Nike? Spike in business?

Haha yeah the Supa story was a rush. It started with a buddy in Jersey just wanting me to make him a Supa out of one of the newer SB releases. So I did it and had some company over one evening. It was sitting on the coffee table and people that saw it thought it was a legit Supa until they picked it up. Some people saw it was of the newer style Dunk SB construction and thought it was something special, some just asked whose it was and others new I had made it. But then a friend of mine suggested that we send it to my friend with “custom sample hang tags” on it and send it out. We started thinking about how perfect it was. Its the 10 year anniversary for SB and a retro of the first SB pops up with sample tags! It was to sure get a rise. Well I told him nonchalantly post them in a few forums when he got them. He did that on a Sunday night. By morning every major over seas site had posted them with big headlines stating Nike was to start retroing SBs, starting with the Supa. By 11am every major website stateside had posted it and I was starting to get a little overwhelmed.

I ended up calling Matt up at Nicekicks and informing him of what I had done. He said he had has his team trying to get to the bottom of it all morning. He later post to the website the story and that he had discussed the project with me and confirmed it was hoax. The crazy thing is, I talked to a few people who are friends with different employees that work at Nike and SB, and they have actually been told that MY story is the hoax and that the images of my custom were actually the real deal…. SMH.