Interview with Shoe Customizer Nizo of Sweatshop Clothing

Making a splash to the scene while doing what they love is essentially the plan Sweatshop Clothing is following. Aside from that determination they have cool nickname that is a play on the clothing industries most negative problem over the last 15 years. So enough typing here is the story behind Sweatshop Clothing.

1. Please give your name, age, where you are from and or grew up?

Nizos, 27, living in Cincinnati now, but grew up in Anderson, Indiana. Sweatshop Clothing is a duo, and I’d imagine if Kirk (the other half) was here, he’d say “old enough and I came from the streets”.

2. What, if any, art based education have you had?

Formal training? I didn’t learn to paint wearing a tuxedo if that is what you’re asking, hahaha. No formal training.

3.When did you start and what got you into customizing?

I cranked out my 1st pair of kicks in early ‘07, had been painting for a while, gifts and things for myself. I’ve always had a great love for sneakers hood sh!t in general. I had no idea there was a whole customizing culture out there until mid 08, and was very excited to see all the information being exchanged….I read a lot and keep up with forums like ISS, it’s a real wealth of knowledge.

4. Is customizing a full time gig? If not what pays the bills?

Full time gig, I haven’t had a job for a long time, I’ve always been the type of cat who’d rather get paid of his own ingenuity then put on a monkey suit and take orders from some chump. Not that I advocate it, but it’s a reality….can’t sell dope forever, now I push dope kicks & clothing.

5. What is on the horizon for Sweatshop in 2009 and beyond?

Though I’d like to say boat & hoes, It’s probably more like shirts and shows for 09, gotta put the boat off for next year. We picked up about 10gs worth of screen printing equipment late last year, and Im hoping to see it pay off, been grinding out designs faster then we can put them down on Ts. hopefully we’ll get recognized on the net for something besides The Joker chucks we’ve done, SOOOOOOOOOOOO sick of making those, but its paying the bills.

6. Have you learned, gained, or experienced anything significant as a result of customizing?

Absolutely! I’ve learned that I don’t have to slave or do anything illegal for a living wage & built a decent reputation for doing something that I love. I had a rough few years before I started this venture, and it’s really helped to smooth me out, can’t get into too much trouble when you’ve gotta stay home and meet that deadline! I feel I’ve become a stronger artist too, having people pay me to try new things that I couldn’t have done for myself, art supplies are stupid expensive.

7. Where do you get inspiration for designs?

Unless I’m doing a customer order with a pre set theme, I just draw from things that entertain me. I like bright colors and ridiculousness, kinda hard to pin that one down. I’m all over the place.

8. What are ways you try to spread word of Sweatshop, or ways in which you market yourself?

MySpace is #1, I comment every new friend with pics of kicks, trade banners with musicians, and It’s turned out to be the best way to link up with my customers. I take 85% of my orders off MySpace, the rest are emails and friends. I’ve set up at a few local hip hop shows, but I haven’t really seen the locals come out for me yet….I’m doin it big in Europe, they’re the only ones left with money it seems like.

9. Craziest customizing request?

Funny, I’m a big fan of Orwells’ 1984, I’ve been working on some big brother shoes, just haven’t wrapped them up, a friend saw them on my photobucket, he was totally convinced that it was Hitler, and he’s been emailing my about some Hilter kicks ever since…

10. Share any experience you may have had working with a store or company of any kind?

I’m planning on working out of a shop that’s in the process of opening now, called State Authentics design group, offering anything design related you could want, they have manufacturing hookups, writers, photographers, and so on. The head of the company opening it up has his own shoe and hat line of the same name, we’ve done a few custom promo jobs for them, been a nice experience.

11. Do you listen to music while working? If so what’s on your customizing playlist?

Bob Marley’s survival has been getting a lot of rotation lately, but I usually listen to streaming radio, now and then a little screw outta big TX.

12. Favorite food and beverage?

Subway clubs and either cherry Coke or grape juice, 100% only son, no concentrates.

13. If you could have one super power for a day what would it be? And why?

Freeze time, I’d rob a few gold depositories then spend the rest of the day playing malicious tricks, pulling peoples pants down and setting their hair on fire, pausing little league games and putting the umps face in front of the bat, I’m such a rascal.

14. If you could pick one movie or TV. show to have been an actor in which one would it be?

Handbanana from Aqua Teen, look it up haha.

15. Most memorable or famous customer you have had?

Jason Bermas from the 911 film Loose Change.

16. What are your Favorite clothing brands or styles?

Dickies, New Era, Converse, Nike. Besides that I’d rather wear something I made then all “streetwear” I see out there.

17. Name a good book you have read?

Ron Paul’s Revolution, a manifesto, its dope sauce.

18. Anyone you would like to work with?

Emmanuel Labor, but he’s way outta my league, I wish I could rock a sewing machine like that, he’s a maniac.

19. 10 years from now, where do you see yourself?

Hopefully having a clothing line, and telling other people to do what Kirk and I are doing by ourselves.

20. Any advice for those beginning customizers or those wanting to start customizing?

Make friends with google, my customizing forefathers have put it down for ya’ll out there. Also be original, push the envelope and look into materials and extra you can throw in the mix, there’s a lot more then Angelus out there to stick on your kicks. I’m waiting for them Dunks with a fish tank platform, if u get that down, you’ve got a buyer right here. Talk about what you do wherever you go, you’ll be surprised the hookups you can make.

21. Final thoughts, shoutouts, or news you’d like to share?

Yessir, I’d like to thank PaintOrThread for this interview and remind all of its readers to believe in nothing if not yourself, and do it real big. SweatShop Out.

Well thank you as well Sweatshop for taking the time to answer our questions. A story such as this is always great to hear. Sweatshop shows the true passion and love that really came before the chance of making money from custom shoes. Definitely give them a look on here: Sweatshop Clothing