An Interview with Alexander Nurulaeff

I don’t remember whether it was Berluti that brought me into the world of patina, or Carlos Santos pushes this art to more novice shoe lovers, or “Hancore” offers the very impressive Star Sky patina, there is one patina artist active on many platforms inlcuding Instagram, Tumblr and Vimeo who is absolutely the highest level, DandyShoeCare, Alexander Nurulaeff.

It is very happy to talk with this innovative and passionate painter (shoes are his canvas).

Could you tell us more about yourself besides a patina artist?

I was born in the Soviet Union. Already as a child I really liked to paint and work with my hands. Like most children of that era at a very young age I knew how to do many things: work with wood, cook, build toys. I spent every day out of the house with my friends. We were always full of ideas and entertainment invented by us.

I also really enjoyed going fishing with my grandfather. At the time there were a lot of fish and fishing was a really exciting thing and made me very happy.

When did you first meet dress shoes? How was the feeling?

I still remember my first pair of men’s serious shoes I was 11 years old At the time I was already very tall and I had big feet I could no longer find the shoes as a boy, and I had to look for shoes in the Men’s department.

As soon as I saw that pair of gray loafers I fell in love immediately. Of course I did not have my money and I had to convince my mom to buy me those beautiful shoes. Luckily I had really good parents. My father was a very elegant man and he gave me a great passion for shoes and tailor-made clothes.

And thanks to my parents I became a happy owner of beautiful and elegant shoes, which were among the most beautiful shoes in my city 

Patina and classic menswear, which came first to you?

The clothes have definitely entered my life first. I’ve always liked it and I still like to have truly unique things, representing my style and character.

For this reason, already when I went to school (always thanks to my parents) I began to order tailor-made clothes. At the age of 14 I went to school wearing such a beautiful double-breasted, as not even the director of the school had. Of course I also had the shoes always well polished. I had very few shoes at the time. Usually it was two summer pairs and two winter pairs, but they were always chosen and maintained with the utmost love and passion.

What experience made you want to become a patina artist?

Becoming an artist of Patina was a very natural thing because I am a professional painter, who paints from the age of 5.

During my life I changed all possible and imaginable styles and techniques of painting: on paper, on canvas, on wood, on silk… My technical and artistic knowledge has allowed me at the right time to create the right technique and products to paint on the skin.

The word I want to emphasize is just Painting, because the shoes with my Patina are not simple padded shoes without any artistic rule with poor colors (as most of the so-called shoe coloring specialists do).  Every pair of shoes that comes out of my laboratory is the result of a long research, the final product born from the artistic and technical skills accumulated during more than 40 years of experience 

How did you learn this skill?

As I said before, everything I know how to do with shoes I learned on my own. Many years ago there was no information regarding the artistic coloring of footwear, Even the word “Patina”.

I had to invent to give a name to what I was creating. Doing a lot of experiments, changing the techniques and products I used, I was able to create what everyone knows today as Alexander Nurulaeff’s Patina.

When you master the skill, how did you attract customers? How was the business at the beginning?

Of course, it was not easy at the beginning. I had to not only create the hand-painted shoes, but above all explain to everyone what it is. People in general have little imagination. At the beginning I had to make a lot of effort to explain every detail of my art. But already soon my first satisfied customers began to speak very well of me, bringing all their friends to me.

I always try to raise the level of the quality of my Patina. By now I have reached really high levels, but I have to continue studying every day to be able to grow more and more. The satisfaction of my customers is the most important thing for me.

How many patinas do you offer now? How do you give them names?

I can not say the exact number of Patina created by me I have never made an account I do not care about the quantity, but the quality I can only say that in my photographic archive of shoes, jackets, bags, belts and wallets there are more than 40000 thousand photos. In my opinion no one else in the world nowadays has created so many things,  like me And I say this not to brag, but to make all readers understand that my experience is really very great. And this means that most likely I will be the perfect artist to make the Patina that you want. Every style of painting, every fantasy of colors and shades, every dream of your most incredible or even very classic can become reality in the laboratory of Dandy Shoe Care !

About the names I give for the patina are quite simple. Every Patina for me is a picture that I paint to send it around the world avoiding unnecessary art galleries and art critics who only try to exploit the painters.

To my paintings on shoes I try to give a title not only poetic, but above all the one that manages to amplify the artistic meaning that I put inside, using the different colors and techniques of artistic painting.  A huge help in choosing the titles I give my wife. She is not only my most severe critic, but also the person who understands very well the meaning of my works of art 

What is your personal style of the patinas?

Personally I prefer very classic things, made with great aesthetic taste, with the addition of individuality and utility.

Despite this, many years ago I invented the classic hand-painted shoes with Camouflage design. The first pair of this very long series of shoes and leather objects (there are still my customers who still require the Patina Camouflage today) I created it for myself.

I like to have things, which no one else in the world can have. Precisely for this reason I have always begun to learn the many crafts I know how to do.

Which patinas are your favorite?

Like all artists I am full of enthusiasm and vitality, while I create something new But immediately after finishing the work I begin to see my flaws, because I am very strict with myself and I always ask for the best from myself.

Perhaps the most incredible thing of recent times has been the collaboration with an Italian luxury brand Jola Hasimi. For them I created a mini collection of bags, wallets and crocodile leather belts hand-colored by me.

One of these bags is crocodile leather with the fur of a feline hand-drawn on top.  It was a really difficult challenge, but at the end, if you look at this bag, you think it is made of fur and not of crocodile.

I already know, that as always, the great luxury industries will try to imitate this invention of mine, as they tried to do even with my Patina Camouflage, but Imitating such a complicated and detailed coloring will be very difficult,  virtually impossible 

What is your plan for the near future?

I am not a person who plans life for so many years ahead, I like to live one day at a time, but do this with the ultimate in pleasure, knowing, that it can be the last day of my life.

Please say something to Chinese shoe lovers.

For the moment I have very few Chinese customers. I do not know if this is due to the fact that in China they still prefer to buy only the creations of manufacturers with big and famous names, or because the taste of Chinese gentlemen is too different from the things created by me. I would like to find out why and try to give Chinese the highest level of quality of Patina that exists in the world. Let me know what you’d like to have in the field of shoes and hand-painted leather objects, and I’ll make it happen. I wish you all much beauty and serenity.

And I do not stop repeating that: “Beauty will save the world!”

Online Store:

Official Website: