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She’s Got Sole: Jill Forie of Sink or Swim Custom Kicks


There’s no question that New York is the city where dreams can come true. Alicia said it best. It’s a concrete jungle where dreams are made. In a city where any dream can become a reality, there are some talented and driven individuals that have no problem taking their passions and sharing them with the world. 23-year-old Jill Forie is one such dreamer. At the age of 19 she started her own company. Sink or Swim Custom Kicks is the result of Jill’s (not short for Jillian) expertise with a paintbrush combined with her drive to create wearable art. Shoes became her canvas after her training from Adelphi University ended. Art Education is still a passion, but creating has always been her first love.

“It’s obvious that art and creativity are my reasons for getting up in the morning. It’s been that way since day one. My dad tells me that growing up the world was my canvas. That theory has only proven to be true over time. I have always been encouraged to explore my creativity and with that incitement, my personal drive to create art was able to flourish.”

Scrolling through the sneakers Jill has designed gives you an immediate sense of disbelief. You can’t help but second guess the idea of someone having the ability to turn a blank pair of Toms, Vans, or Chucks into a canvas. The intensity of the colors and attention to detail are so spot on that you would assume Photoshop was involved. Seriously. Jill’s talents exceed what the average individual can produce with the latest CS5 software. Straight up, her designs are SICK!

Jill Forie: Owner/Founder of Sink or Swim Custom Kicks

When asked to expose her sources of inspiration, Jill had no problem sharing. As far as other artists, she admires the work of Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Alex Pardee, and Angelique Houtkamp. She also admitted she’d love to work with Vans because it’s one of the few companies that “do it right.” According to Jill, “the Vans company is run with integrity, creativity, and appreciation for the culture that they represent.” Respect!

“Throughout my life, inspiration has been drawn from a variety of sources. Visual culture consumes not only me, but all of us. I’m inspired everyday by what I see on the street, the music I listen to, my friends and family, what I hear and learn from my students, and of course the never ending supply of images on tumblr and pinterest.”

Thus far, the almost 5 year-old brand has collaborated with some major players in music, film, and print media. Director Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen, Date Night) and Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams both respect and have summoned services from the SoSCK brand. The brand has also been recognized by multiple blogs, magazines, music videos, and movies.

Instead of working for profit, Jill has focused on donating her time and talent to charitable causes and organizations. She is currently collaborating with Nashville-based organization Soles4Souls, a charity that collects shoes from warehouses and donations and distributes them to less fortunate people worldwide. Not only is Jill hosting shoe drives around the Carle Place School District in New York, but she is also having her art students decorate the sneakers. She recently traveled to Haiti with Soles4Souls to distribute the painted kicks.

Although she is busy with teaching art to the youth in Long Island, Jill Forie still has a genuine, raw passion for painting shoes. To her, “life is about your ability to sink or swim.” Her words of wisdom to us all: “Never let anyone tell you that you’re wasting your time. It’s your life. Swim, don’t sink.”

You can ask, order, or browse on Sink or Swim Custom Kicks’ Facebook, MySpace, or Tumblr.

Image Layout: Feesh

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One Response to “She’s Got Sole: Jill Forie of Sink or Swim Custom Kicks”

  1. Carl says:

    Terrific interview and samples Jill! You’re definitely an inspiring swimmer!

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