I go to a mall one time a year; right before Christmas to buy gifts. But this year, I went to 20 different malls between October and December.
Ugg Australia sent me on a 20-city tour to customize Ugg boots in Nordstrom stores. I’ve been to Seattle, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego and even Las Vegas.
MY MISSION: To make people happy by painting art on their boots.
Here’s what I learned about humanity through it all:
1.) IT’S THE SIMPLE THINGS THAT BRING JOY TO PEOPLE: Just painting someone’s boot can make their day. I’ve seen ladies just gush over what I painted for them. One little boy had me paint his boots and he was fascinated by the airbrush gun so I let him paint on his shoe box with it. He was so happy and proud of himself. His parents told me later that he had been battling cancer, and they thanked me for giving him so much attention.
2.) SOME PEOPLE REALLY LOVE THEIR UGG BOOTS: At my Los Cerritos, CA event, one woman bought 9 pairs of boots and had me paint every single one of them. Another lady followed me to two different events, and at each one she bought three pairs.
3.) MY VAN DOESN’T FIT IN MOST PARKING GARAGES: Something I didn’t plan for when I bought a big van and had surf racks installed. This became a problem, especially during the Christmas season. (This has nothing to do with humanity, but it’s something I learned)
4.) SOME PEOPLE WILL DO ANYTHING TO GET THEIR BOOTS PAINTED: When I arrived at my event in Costa Mesa there was a line of customers waiting for me. When we got 25 people on my painting list, we had to turn people away. One woman offered to buy my family dinner if I slid in “just one more person – it can’t hurt” she said. She was the 20th person who asked to be “just one more person”. Another gentleman tried to slip Maria a $20.00 to get his name on the coveted painting list!
There were over two dozen people who waited 3 hours for their boots to be painted. They were patient and polite. It was Black Friday, and I was surprised at how nice everyone was, despite the madness of the busy mall. The manager asked if I could stay a couple more hours to accommodate more customers, and of course we said yes. I finished painting my last pair at 10:30 (after the mall closed).
5.) SOME PEOPLE FORGET THAT I’M HUMAN: My last event was great but at the end we turned people away because I had to leave. One woman was yelling at the staff that she was entitled to have her boots painted. She wasn’t concerned that my family was wanting to go because we had plans for dinner and a show. She didn’t care – she just wanted her boots painted. In the end, I stayed late to paint her three pairs. She was happy, but we missed our show and I had a disappointed son and wife to deal with.
6.) MOST PEOPLE ARE WONDERFUL: Most of the customers that I’ve met during this tour have been very appreciative, and every single one has left happy, even the hard to please. I’ve met interesting people, kids and families. And many of my fans showed up for the events, too. That’s the thing that’s made me the happiest – that people would come just to see me.
In the end it was all about making cool boots. We achieved that. There are a few hundred pairs of my customized Ugg boots out the world right now, and I’m stoked to have done it.
I’m appreciative to Ugg Australia and our friend Chelsea at Sundreams Productions (who put this entire tour together) and the great people at Nordstrom for the opportunity to do this.
It’s projects like this that make my job as an artist fun and exciting!
Now that my tour is over, I’m going to relax and spend a nice Christmas with my family. I’ll finish up a few paintings that have been sitting, and I’ll get ready to make plans for 2011. I might even finish painting my own boots…
Life is Good – Drew
*Photo Credit: (c) David Vorhees (He photographed one of my Ugg events. Thanks David!)