Sneakerplaats interview with sneaker customizer @tagzartwork

1. Who (are you?), What (do you for a living?), Where (do you live?) My name is Brett Battaglia and…

1. Who (are you?), What (do you for a living?), Where (do you live?)

My name is Brett Battaglia and I am a full-time graphic designer for a global medical company and a part time sneaker reconstructionist. I live in Boston, Massachusetts.

2. What is your “customizer name” and how did you came up with it?

I go by Tagzartwork on Instagram. When I was younger all my friends use to call me tagz on account of my last name being Battaglia and that nickname stuck with me through adulthood.

I originally did a lot of graphic design and painting work so that is where the “artwork” aspect comes from but I recently switched over to doing 100% shoe customization.

3. How did you get involved with custom sneakers and when did you start customizing?

I have been a sneakerhead for at least the last 10 years of my life. I’ve always loved the culture, collecting sneakers, and going to events in the Boston area.

Within the last few years the sneaker scene has shifted heavily in resellers favor where it’s almost impossible now to buy a shoe for retail. I was sick of paying resell for shoes I liked so I decided I was just going to make my own!

4. Do you remember your first pair of custom sneakers? If so, tell us all about it and show us some pics?

My first pair I ever made was in October of 2020. I took a flight down to San Diego for a shoe reconstruction class to make a pair of Air Jordan 1s.

One of my grails has always been a Chicago AJ1 so my inspiration behind my first ever shoe was an exotic Chicago colorway with real python and gator skins.

5. Which brands and models do you prefer customizing?

My favorite pairs to create are the SB Dunk lows and Air Max 1s. Although the Air Max 1 isn’t super popular in the United States it has always been one of my favorite silhouettes and being able to make one from scratch after wearing them all my life is an amazing feeling.

My first pair of Air Max 1’s I took apart I actually popped the air bubble because I was using a heat gun to get the factory glue to come apart and it went right through the air unit. Safe to say I shed a tear or two throwing those soles in the trash.

I enjoy creating SB Dunks because this model is incredibly well received for all sneakerheads and there is a colorway for everyone. I also really enjoy the comfort level of the SBs since the tongue is packed with super thick foam that acts like a pillow on your foot.

6. How many customs have you made?

In the 5 month I have been creating I have made well over 20 pairs for both myself and for customer inquires.

7. What do you think is your most beautiful pair of custom sneakers?

My most beautiful pair of customs are easily the veg tan Dunks. This pair has a paisley embossed veg tan leather along the mudguard and heel with a smooth lighter veg tan on the quarter panels, toe box and tongue.

The liner is a white premium deerskin and the swoosh is a pebbled off white. This shoe is truly a leathercrafters dream pair.

8. How do you get inspiration for your custom sneakers?

I draw inspiration from a lot of things. Many times I see amazing colorways that Nike, Adidas, Reebok and Asic releases that I think would look better on a different silhouette.

Other times I want to make an old colorway the exotic treatment like I did on the Supreme Dunks. I recreated this pair with Italian embossed elephant print suede and genuine red python.

I also like to create my own colorways based off fabrics and leathers I think work well together.

9. Do you also make custom sneakers by appointment? If so, what do you need in terms of input and what does that process look like?

Yes I have created many customs for customers all around the world. I don’t ask anything in terms of input other then a generalized idea of what they are looking for.

From there I brainstorm a mockup for them to approve, hunt down premium fabrics and leathers and give that customer a quote price!

I put 100% effort into all my work and every person who owns a pair of my shoes has been completely satisfied with my work and level of detail.

10. Have you got a fixed price for customizing or price per design? And what’s your range?

I base my prices on a few things. First is materials. Obviously exotic materials will be more expensive then any other material so those type of customs are usually the highest.

Next I base it off of the type of model the customer wants. Some models are easier to make and find donor soles for so the price for dunks is usually more expensive then the price for an Air Max 1.

I have a minimum base price for a full reconstruction of $750 (which to my knowledge is one of the lowest prices on the market at the moment) and the price goes up based on the factors above.

11. How long does it takes to customize a pair of sneakers?

This depends. My fastest pair I ever made was in 3 days but I also had nothing else to do during this period.

I usually tell customers my lead time is about 2-4 weeks leaning more on the 2 week time frame.

12. Where do you see yourself as a sneaker customizer in 5 years?

Ideally, I want to customize shoes full time. I know this task is 100% achievable. I want to collaborate with some of the best in the sneaker reconstruction space and make my brand world known.

13. How do your loved ones feel about your “sneaker customizing” hobby?

My family and friends are very supportive. At first they were a little skeptical because its hard to understand just how much money people will pay for a custom pair of sneakers if you are not a sneakerhead, but once they saw how much I sold my first pair for they were on board.

My girlfriend actually helps me cut out materials and takes almost all the photos that I post online of my customs, so shoutout to Grace!

14. Where can people follow you on your socials?

You can reach out to me via DM on Instagram and I always answer within an hour! I am currently working on a website as well to better sell and market my customs.

Instagram: Tagzartwork

15. How can people buy your customs? Do you have a website or via social media?

Reach out to me via Instagram for inquires! I take paypal, Venmo, Cashapp ect. I also have a references tab on my Instagram pinned stories of some of my customers so you feel more safe about working with me.

I always keep the customer 100% involved with updates as I work on their pair so they can see the entire process.

I am also a resource to my customers who want to start creating shoes on their own and hopefully will be running local classes in Boston for creating sneakers fully by hand!