Judah Schwepler, 18, has used creativity as wellness to thrive during the pandemic through painting sneakers and photography. The high school senior is wanting to inspire people to strive for a better tomorrow through his art.
Schwepler was noticed for his photography on VSCO. VSCO is a photography software app that allows users to capture photos and edit them.
Schwepler’s most reposted photo on VSCO is of a billboard in downtown Kansas City that said “more love”. He believes it resonates with people because we all need to be better to each other. The world can be hard to navigate, but it is important to be kind to each other.
VSCO featured Schwepler’s custom sneakers and photography on their Instagram account in December 2020. The account currently has over 4 million followers.
Schwepler says he has always been artistic. He says he was the kid in art class who spent extra time on his art projects. However, before the coronavirus pandemic, he was planning on going to college to be an accountant.
Schwepler decided accounting was not for him after taking a few accounting classes at a community college. The pandemic revealed where Schwepler’s heart lied, which is in art.
“I was motivated to paint a picture of 2020 not as a year of heartbreak and turmoil, but instead I wanted to represent growth,” says Schwepler.
VSCO released their 2020 Year In Review featuring new research revealing being creative was the top way Gen Z got through 2020.
Stress and anxiety went up for many people during the pandemic, not just Gen Z. Harvard Health Publishing for Harvard Medical School says creating visual art can help with depression and anxiety.
“To be completely honest, creativity is what saved me this year,” says Schwepler. “During quarantine, I sank into a deep depression because it felt like an eternity before I would be able to see my friends and family again, and I did not want my time to go to waste.”
Schwepler started his custom shoe Instagram shop @effectkicks in 2020. He quit two jobs to paint the shoes on his page. His first post was on September 9, 2020, and he has over 6,000 followers. After half days of high school, he works on painting shoes.
After high school, Schwepler wants to make art his full-time job. In the future, Schwepler wants to lean more into videography. He says he would love to be financially stable enough to have someone operate his shoe business while he told stories through videography.
Schwepler is on VSCO @judahschwepler and on Instagram @effectkicks.