Sneaker Designer, Dee Wells

Sneaker Designer, Dee Wells

4 minute read

Photographer. Filmmaker. Obsessed Storyteller. Sneaker Lover. 

Let’s get to know Dee.

Where'd you grow up? 

“I was born on Saint Thomas but went to school on Saint John’s; two separate islands from 7th-12th grade.”

How has growing up in the Caribbean shaped who you are today?

“The Island’s culture, food, music shaped who I  am today; I realized that even more as I’ve gotten older how my foundation has impacted and served as to what I do.” 

Favorite saying…

"It takes a village to raise a child.  I had a lot of aunts, uncles, cousins, not blood-related, but those who  protected me which shaped who I am."

At what age did you notice your creative side, before a sneaker was your canvas? 

“My stepfather put a camera in my hand at age 10 when he was in the navy. He would take pictures when he was stationed in Brooklyn, NYC and Hawaii. My love of photography came from him.  Other areas of creativity like sketching and drawing never was my thing."

What does photography or videography mean to you?

“Both are like seeing the world through a viewfinder.  I'm able to capture a moment in time.  With moviemaking, I have to visualize special effects or interdependencies.  With photography or videography, it's about the scene and I love the inquisitiveness an image or video can create.”

Favorite piece you’ve done? 

“The film “UnCommonWealth: Permit To Build”, explores gentrification, in Worcester, Mass. through the eyes of TyShawn Dion (real name: Tyrae Sims), a rapper from Worcester, MA.”  Check out the link here

“My other favorite piece is Obsessive Sneaker Disorder (OSD) produced “BDA”, which gives the audience  a glimpse of Tunav’s battle with cancer, how it affected him, his family and made him more present.” Check out the link here.

What are you working on now?

“Usually I would be gearing up for the summer program I lead. But, in 2020, I’m working on ways to create a virtual film program.  I'm also heavily engaged in the sneaker industry, but from the standpoint of elevating people within the sneaker industry.  I've asked myself, why aren’t there more women and Black and brown people at the biggest sports brands? Many of those companies have capitalized on selling to those consumers and with the current focus on racism, classism, sexism on the national level, I want to be involved in the revolution taking place.   

As a man who identifies with the Black experience in America, this year has been very emotional for me. I'm saddened by the inequality still in our society, but glad that we're having real and hard conversations now to try and address racial injustice. That said, it's a heavy weight to think about where to begin and the amount of work we have to do.” 

Do you bring specific values to your work? 

“I always respect the person and the brand history. If it doesn’t feel good, I’ll say no; I’m proud to be able to pick and choose with brands like Nike, Jordan, and Adidas. It’s important for the work to be real or authentic.” 

How has hip hop impacted your life? 

“I am the product of hip hop. I grew up with the foundation of hip hop and how it has morphed and changed. Everything I do I can relate it to a song: positive, struggling, etc...  the music speaks to who I am”

What is your daily source of inspiration?

“Everything I see, hear, read, and feel; I get inspiration from so many things. Human beings want the same three things: take care of family and friends, to be loved , and to give love. I want the best for people. I want people to win, so PEOPLE INSPIRE ME.”

If you could create a video for round21 what would it be?

“I would start with Jasmine and her telling her story. Leading into the formation of round21 and what her outlandish big long term goals are to show that really you have to take the limits off of yourself.” 

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