LUDLOW, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A local artist is going above and beyond by bringing holiday season joy to many New England Patriots players, after granting them their wishes, by designing them customized cleats.
Western Mass News spoke with the artist on how he's contributing to these players' passions beyond the field.
Joe Ventura, a local artist from Ludlow, began designing personalized cleats for players across the NFL after being involved with the "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign, where players expressed support for causes through creative artwork.
Ventura has painted 16 pairs of cleats for Patriots players this season and said it brings him just as much joy to do it as it brings the players.
"I'm gifted with art. I don't see things like a normal person sees, you look at a tree, you see leaves and stuff, I see shapes," Venture said.
Ventura said for as long as he can remember creating different forms of artwork has been a passion of his, including gifting hundreds of NFL players with customized cleats.
"It's just bringing out what they're trying to say without saying it," he explained. "If they have a cause, you want to make sure that people can see it, that people can recognize it. I'm speaking through their vision."
Drawing awareness to his talents, while spending roughly four hours per pair of cleats, Ventura told Western Mass News that players, like New England Patriots running back Sony Michel, won't hesitate to hit him up.
"He called me directly. He was referred by Rex Burkhead, and I had asked him on the phone, 'Where did you get my number from?' and he immediately goes, 'Am I not supposed to have your number?' and I go, 'No, no, no, that's not what I meant!'" he explained.
Designs varied from campaigns like the Black Lives Matter movement for Captain Matthew Slater to personal portraits, like Michel's request of his dear friend Sophia Hurtado, who passed away from cancer.
Ventura said while typically they're the celebrities fans look up to, his interaction with these players is humbling.
"The amazing thing for me is when I see them in person and hand them something, that they look at me with the same eyes, that someone would look at them when they meet them, and I stand back and go, 'Hey, I'm just a normal guy,'" he noted.
Following the Patriots' motto, while doing his job, Ventura said he feels a little "outdated" when the players thank him on social media.
"Usually, they'll give me those little icons of fire, or 100 percent, 'This is awesome.' I don't know what you call those things, emojis?" he said.
Out of all the shoes Ventura has designed, his favorites are...
"The next one," he said.
Ventura also marks his initials on every cleat he does.
The Patriots will be showing off their personalized cleats on January 3 during a home game against the New York Jets.