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DIY Sugar Skull Day of the Dead Vans Custom Culture

DIY Custom Sugar Skull Vans slip ons

Vans Custom Culture was created to inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design, and to bring attention to diminishing arts education budgets. Custom Culture is a national high school customization competition using four pairs of blank Vans shoes to be customized around four themes: Art, Music, Action Sports and Local Flavor.

The Top 5 Finalists will be flown to the Final Event, where a Grand Prize winner will be determined. The winner of the Grand Prize will receive $50,000 for their high school art program and a chance for their designs to be sold in Vans’ retail stores. Runners up receive $4,000 towards their schools. How cool is that!?!

By participating as a DIY Ambassador, I’m hoping to help bring awareness to the lack of funding for arts education in our high schools because art and music programs are so so so important.

high school art classes vans

Van’s Custom Culture sent me these classic white slip on Vans to get crafty with along with a few fun supplies like glitter, acrylic paints, and paint pens. Since I’d already done a Glitter Sneaker DIY, I wanted to get artistic and since they sent my cousin’s size, I used one of her favorite thing as inspiration: Dia de los Muertos {Day of the Dead} and illustrated a few sugar skulls and florals and colored them in brightly to hopefully create a festive DotD design.

Here’s What I Used…

Vans Custom Culture DIY

* White Classic Slip On Vans
* Pencil
* Extra fine DecoColor black opaque paint marker
* Sharpie Stained fabric markers

Optional: Templates to trace

Here’s How I Did It…

Vans Custom Culture DIY white

Stuff the toes of your Vans with tissue paper to create a smooth surface to draw on.

Vans Custom Culture DIY -sugar skull-day of the dead

Begin drawing your design with a pencil.

I basically looked at Sugar Skull illustrations on my computer and drew these as best I could with the space I had. If you don’t trust your drawing skills, you can find printable illustrations which you can trace onto tracing paper and then onto your shoes.

Vans Custom Culture DIY - sugar skull-day of the dead

I basically just filled in the rest of the white space with flowers, hearts, crosses, vines, and any other Day of the Dead imagery.

If you notice, on the left Sugar Skull, I created rounded flowers INSIDE the skull but pointy leaved flowers around the rest of the shoe and on the right Sugar Skull, I created pointed flowers INSIDE the skull and rounded flowers on the rest of the shoe. I think this helped create some consistency and symmetry while making each shoe different.

Vans Custom Culture DIY - sugar skull- day of the dead

Once you’ve got your design illustrated in pencil, carefully go over it with your Black Paint Marker… which will bleed, so use a light hand in the detailed areas.

Vans Custom Culture DIY sugar skull - day of the dead shoes

Once I was comfortable enough with the black marker, I started drawing free-handing and adding details.

Vans Custom Culture DIY - sugar skull - day of the dead

Continue drawing until you like your design.

Vans Custom Culture DIY - sugar skull - day of the dead

Let your paint marker dry.

Vans Custom Culture DIY - sugar skull - day of the dead shoes

Vans Custom Culture DIY -  sugar skull - day of the dead

With a CLEAN WHITE eraser, go through and erase your pencil marks. I started changing my designs so I had rogue marks to get rid of.

DIY Sugar Skull Day of the Dead Vans

Now begin coloring in your designs… this was a tough decision because I really liked the simple black and white, but Day of the Dead is so colorful, I couldn’t just leave it blank.

diy sugar skull vans

My fabric markers are surprisingly bright and finished with an almost neon look.

diy day of the dead custom vans

And… Voila!

Some of the ink is still wet here, leaving an inconsistent effect, but once it dried, it was consistent.

Custom Sugar Skull Day of the Dead vans slip ons

diy custom vans

Custom Sugar Skull Vans

Find out how you can participate in the Vans Custom Culture to help raise awareness and funds for arts programs and continued education in our high schools..

Have Fun!

* Find all my DIYs here
* Find all my SHOE DIYs here


Maegan Tintari

LA native & lifestyle blogger Maegan Tintari writes daily at sharing beauty & style secrets, including fashion DIYs, how-to nail art manicures, hair tutorials, recipes & home decorating ideas, as well as a look into her personal life, her journey & battle with infertility & recent relocation to the mountains by a lake in search of a better life with her adorable French Bulldog brothers, Trevor and Randy.

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