Just like any artist, Bianca Puga of Beeville has a knack for turning the mundane into the extraordinary.
Puga, 30, has been gaining notoriety on the internet for her elaborately painted shoes. Puga is known for her ability to transform plain canvas Vans slip-on skateboard shoes into wearable works of art.
“I remember seeing years ago, someone doing shoe art,” she said. “My first attempt was horrible. Then I found a group on Instagram where they share tips.”
Puga learned that by the addition of fabric medium to the acrylic paint she was using, the designs held up better because the paint became flexible and moved with the material thus preventing it from cracking.
TikTok has provided Puga – whose user name is @decemberbellz – with a captive audience for her art. There, she posts short videos of her shoes during their production and of the finished products. This has also boosted demand for Puga’s shoes, along with customized denim jackets, video game cases and wallets. She has been asked to quit her job at Walmart in Beeville and turn her art into a business.
“I don’t really see it going any further than what it currently is,” Puga said. “I want stable income ... I want to make enough money to pay my bills.”
Like other crafters, Puga said she often deals with customers who say her prices are too high. But given the materials and the time she spends on each pair of shoes – painting an average of three pairs per month – Puga actually considers her pricing to be rather low.
Cartoon characters tend to be the majority of the designs Puga paints, with Scooby Doo being a common theme. Horror movie antagonists also are popular, as she recently completed pairs of Vans bearing the image of Chucky from the “Child’s Play” franchise and Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s “It.”
While Puga has painted some shoes for children, a majority of her work is for adults.
“I have done children before, but I tell their parents that they’re not going to have the shoes for very long because they grow out of them,” she said.
When it is time to create, Puga said she likes to have background noise, such as movies featuring Marvel comics characters or Japanese anime. Her taste in movies along with her multiple piercings, large tattoos and long orange hair are proof that Puga has her own bold style and personality.
“I never grew out of it,” she said. “I like what I like. I’m not going to change myself to satisfy someone else.”
Sometimes while painting, she also will play music. Puga is mostly into rock, but also likes to listen to cello music.
Puga’s artwork gained notoriety nationwide in the summer when a TikTok video she made for Walmart, in which she was painting matching Shaggy and Scooby shoes for a cashier and her child-to-be garnered more than 14 million views. The store subsequently recruited her to paint a window display.
However, like many across the country, Puga’s life was personally impacted by COVID-19. She was diagnosed with the virus in October and was sick for roughly a month. But Puga was back in commission around Thanksgiving and shows no signs of slowing down.
When Puga is not working at Walmart or doing her artwork, she serves as a caregiver to her 3-year-old niece who has spina bifida. In her free time, she reads young adult books, manga and comic books, with some of her favorite material being “The Hunger Games” and the “Twilight” series.