How to become a sneaker designer: 10 steps

Have you got plans to become a shoe designer for Converse, Puma Nike, Adidas or Vans? I will be quite honest with you, it's hard to find a shoe designer job in a high-end brand, but if you work hard and do not give up, you can get into the business. Do not be afraid to start your professional career in shoe design with a small business or work as an independent designer.



1. Learn to draw. shoes and everything:

If you want to be a professional shoe designer, you must, of course, learn to design shoes! It will be your language, you should know it well. The designs of your shoes determine how you communicate your ideas. You must be good! Your drawings must show your passion and your creativity to others. In a design meeting, design that captures the imagination, but also shows the real possibilities, it's the design that makes it!


You need to master the conceptual schema and some representation skills. Do you think hand drawings are obsolete? Think about you! Check out the Render Demo book and video series. Professional Advice: Make sure you spend time designing the insoles and midsole. A designer who can draw soles will always be in demand!


2. Go to school:

Is the design school essential for shoe designers? Maybe not. But the skills and experience gained at a four-year university or design school will give you a definite advantage. There are many excellent industrial design or identification programs. Industrial design is what you are looking for, NOT engineering. Identification programs include courses on materials, design, human factors, etc. In a design school, you will work with many creative people and you will certainly be challenged. The design school will help you become a shoe designer.


3. You will need a shoe mentor:

I was very lucky in my career as a shoemaker. Along the way, I met and worked with many excellent people. If you are not afraid to ask questions and are patient enough to listen, you will learn a lot from mentors and colleagues. I guarantee you that, working in the shoe industry, you will meet people from all over the world from different backgrounds. I consider a Canadian, an Englishman, a Korean and many Chinese men and women as excellent friends and mentors in the shoe industry.

4. Learn computer software: start with Adobe Illustrator

There are loads of drawing programs you can choose from. Adobe Illustrator is easy to learn and is an excellent tool for refining and detailing your projects. Although Illustrator is not a 3D CAD program, it is essential to master it. If you are an engineer, use 3D modelling software. As a designer, you need to start with Adobe Illustrator to design shoes.

5. Create a large portfolio to have a stand:

There are many ways to get noticed and get started, but an excellent portfolio of design projects is your starting point. Today, an online portfolio is required. With an online portfolio, you can view hundreds of drawings. Let people see what you can do! Other tools? Browsing on LinkedIn.com can provide contacts.

6. Study the classics:

Study the classics, not the masterpieces of Italian painters, classic shoes! Learn the modern history of shoes. There are many good books out there. Meet the classic silhouettes of the big brands. Do not be afraid to stand on the shoulders of the giants of the shoe!


7. Fill your mind with a beautiful design:

To be a great shoe designer, you have to look beyond the shoes! There are many great industrial designs out there! Fill your mind with images: Ferrari, Prada, Frank Gehry, Philippe Starck, Apple, Porsche, etc. There are many sites online where you can see excellent models of modern products in addition to shoes. Fill your brain and let your eyes drink this design stew.


8. Books Books Books:

I have collected dozens of books on design, design history, manufacturing, architecture, brand and package design. Surround yourself! If I have a design problem that I cannot solve, simply dive and start turning pages. The answer is inside, you just need a new way to advertise! There are many good shoes that design books for beginners.

9. Cut the old shoes:

You must see how the shoes are mounted. Learn the why and how of the shoe. A superb shoe design impossible to achieve never leaves the page! That said ... a new amazing shoe design that challenges your development team can also be interesting!

10. Luck favors the brave!

Take a risk! The designs of your shoes must aim perfection, regardless of the type of shoe. Do something new and different. Work hard to understand the challenges of shoe design and then go into a new direction. Find a new material for the design of your shoe, use an old material in a new way. Visit the shoe factory and see what they can do, which they cannot do. Do not accept a no as an answer!

You can be a shoe designer. It takes a passion for product design and imagination to see something that can be. For me, it's the best thing about being a shoe designer, seeing the future in my mind and working to create it.


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