Native Village 
Youth and Education News

January 1, 2013

Nooksack tribal member turns shoes into canvas for art
Condensed by Native Village

Creating Northwest native art on shoes has turned into a business opportunity for Louie Gong. The Nooksack tribal member recently launched a website for Mockups.

Mockups resemble white Vans-style shoes on which customers paint intricate designs. The do-it-yourself pieces are artwork and not meant to be worn.

Gong believes Mockups have the potential to become popular for school projects. He says shoes have played an important part in our culture, such as Dorothy's ruby slippers in "The Wizard of Oz" or Air Jordans. Art on shoes can have broad appeal and become iconic cross-cultural symbols.

"Shoes are the perfect platform for talking about a wide range of topics in a way that can really engage with kids," Gong said.

Gong got the idea for Mockups about three years ago after buying a plain pair of Vans which he decorated with a Coast Salish design. The many compliments he received made him think it  could be a popular business idea.

Wong's work is garnering attention. He's on the "Top 10 Most Inspirational Natives" list  by Native Max magazine, and is popular in social media. His Facebook page, Custom Coast Salish/Northwest style shoes by Louie Gong has nearly 55,000 "Likes."

Along with the online presence, Mockups are sold at a few gift shops, including at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Along with his artistic work, Gong is a well-known figure in the world of multiracial culture and advocacy. His mixed-race heritage includes Chinese, French, Scottish, Nooksack and Squamish.

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Native Village Gina Boltz
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