I can’t believe I’ve only just discovered Caitlin. I pride myself on the fact that the first thing I do when I meet someone is look at their shoes. A legacy from my previous life of 10 years working in the footwear industry, it’s a peculiarity I’ve decided to embrace, rather than fight.
And yet I never look at cyclists shoes. I have no idea why, I’ve just never had any interest in them. I am truly disappointed in myself.
It wasn’t until I saw Michael Matthews showing off these bad boys on Instagram that I suddenly realised what I’d been missing!
I managed about one minute of scrolling Caitlin’s feed before I felt the urgent need to talk to her. I just couldn’t believe how she’d made such a functional item look beautiful, powerful and cool as a polar bears paw, all at the same time!
So, with the joy of social media at my finger tips we were connected and I got the low down on her incredible creations.
It was near the 2nd year that I met George Bennett in Nelson (his parents still live there and he comes back in summer/Christmas).
We had a bit of a talk about what way we were heading and I decided to quit my job and move to Spain with him.
I didn’t want to become dependent on George, lose my identity or sense of direction and ambition, in a strange land far from home!
Since I was young I had a passion for art and throughout the last 10 years I have done commission based work on the side, so when the opportunity came to throw myself full time into the world of art in Spain I got serious on the brushes.
The shoe idea was originally something George wanted for a birthday present. The reception they had at the 2017 Tour de France was pretty amazing but it didn’t take long to realise there was a lot more to it than just painting on the shoes.
By the first rest day they had already lost most of their paint but had gathered a lot of interest and inquires so I thought I better get serious and work out how to do them properly.
It turns out its a massive process prepping the shoes, protective coatings and the right type of paint but it takes so long to paint them that you don’t want the paint to come off!
I’ll then find out what type of shoes they have and start sketching and playing around with some ideas and designs. It’s a bit of back-and-forth at this point between myself and the client. Obviously I’m wanting it to look perfect for them, this process alone can take around 10 hours.I then prepare the shoes by removing the factory finish that they come with, then start on painting the design onto the shoes. I will paint 4-5 layers of paint on the shoes which is quite a time consuming process but ensures the paint will adhere properly, and won’t come off. Then apply a finisher on top. On average each pair of shoes takes around 25-30 hours from conception to the finish!
I am not only watching the space, I’m actively participating in it. I’m currently in the process of commissioning a design from Caitlin.
Thankfully she doesn’t just do cycling shoes, so I’ll have something amazing to wear when I’m cheering the pros on from the side lines and running around the paddock like a mentalist.
Check out more of Caitlin’s work;