When Liberty-based tattooist Zach Baldwin decided to dabble in painting, he wanted to be more creative with his canvas than most other artists. So, he started painting anything and everything he could get a hold of—shoes, backpacks, basketballs, helmets, and more.
Now Baldwin, under the name Kartel Stylez, is most well-known for the shoes he custom paints. So well-known that he has made custom designs for Travis Kelce, Randi Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, Tech N9ne, and other famous athletes and music artists.
“I originally made custom boots for Tech N9ne, which jumpstarted my career,” Baldwin says. “My first opportunity with Tech N9ne came from a meet and greet at a Sprint store. It ended up that only 15 people showed up, and I thought it would be a cool opportunity to show them the boots. He wanted to purchase more from me and helped me deliver a custom pair to T-Pain. Then I painted local rapper SleazyWorld’s basement, and I worked my way up.”
The most recent development for Baldwin? Thousands of Kansas City Chiefs fans have the opportunity to snap a photo in front of Baldwin’s 2020 Patrick Mahomes painting—this one on a canvas—as part of Union Station’s Mahomes Zone, which will be up through the AFC Championship game—and longer if the Chiefs go to the Super Bowl.
“The Kansas City Chiefs were doing amazing things on the field, and Kansas City hadn’t been able to feel that gratification for a long time,” Baldwin says. “I’ve been a Chiefs fan my whole life, and the Super Bowl was the hill we needed to get over as a city and a team. That alone made Patrick the top of Kansas City’s cool people list, and I needed to paint him. He was coming through as a slaughterhouse to all those teams, and that’s what inspired it.”
From gifting his personal pair of boots to Tyreek Hill (back when he was part of Chiefs Nation) to painting custom boots for Travis Kelce—which sit in the tight end’s Hall of Fame in the basement of his home—to donating paintings and custom boots as a sponsor of the Derrick Thomas Foundation and working closely with Patrick Mahomes’s mom, Randi, on several designs, Baldwin has made a name for himself among hometown heroes.
“The most rewarding thing about what I’m doing is to see everybody’s different reactions to my rare and one-of-a-kind artwork,” Baldwin says. “I don’t really get the feeling of meeting a big-time celebrity because in the moment I’m doing my job, it’s my moment to perform and make a custom pair of boots. You realize they’re just everyday people who are famous.”