How to Become a Sneaker Designer : 10 Steps
Do you want to learn how to become a shoe designer for Nike? Adidas or Vans? You can do it! Here are the 10 steps to become a shoe designer.
1. Learn to Draw…. Shoes and everything else:
If you want to be a shoe designer of course need to learn how to draw! This will be your language you must do it well. Your shoe drawings are how you communicate your ideas! You have to be good! Your drawings need to show your passion and creativity to others. In a design meeting the drawing that captures the imagination but also shows real possibilities will be the design that makes it!
You will need to master concept sketching and some rendering skills. Do you think hand drawings are old-fashioned? Think again!
2. Go to school:
Is design school a must for shoe designers? …maybe not. But the skills and experience gained at a 4 year college or design school will really give you an edge. There are many great programs for INDUSTRIAL DESIGN or ID. Industrial Design is what you are looking for NOT engineering. ID programs include classes on materials, drawing, human factors etc… In Design School you will work with many creative people and you will definitely be challenged. Design school will help you to become a shoe designer.
3. You will need a Shoe Mentor:
I’ve been very lucky in my shoe making career. Along the way I have met and worked with many great people. If you are not afraid to ask questions and patient enough to listen you will learn a ton. I can guarantee that in the shoe trade you will meet people from all around the word with many different experiences. I count a Canadian, an Englishman, Korean and Chinese guys as great friends and mentors in the shoe trade.
4. Learn computer software: Start with Adobe Illustrator
There are so many drawing programs you can use, but Adobe Illustrator is easy to learn and use. Adobe Illustrator is a great tool for refining and detailing your designs. While this is not a 3D CAD program it’s still critical for you to master it. If you are an engineer use 3D modeling software, but as a design start with Adobe Illustrator for drawing shoes.
5. Build a great portfolio to get a foot in the door:
There are many ways to get noticed and get started but a great design portfolio is your starting point. In this day and age an online portfolio is a must. With an online portfolio you can show hundreds of drawings. Let people see what you can do! Other tools? Surfing LinkedIn.com can get you some contacts.
6. Study the Classics:
Study the classics, not the masterworks of Italian painters! Classic shoes! Learn the modern history of shoes. There are many good books out there. Get to know the classic silhouettes from the big brands. Don’t be afraid to stand on the shoulders of the shoe giants!
7. Fill Your Mind with Great Design:
To be a great shoe designer you need to look well beyond shoes! There is so much great industrial Design out there! Fill your brain with images. Ferrari, Prada, Frank Gehry, Philippe Starck, Apple, Porsche, etc. There are so many places on the web to see great modern designs for products aside from shoes! Fill up your brain, and let your eyes drink up this design stew.
8. Books Books Books:
I have collected dozens of design, design history, manufacturing ,architecture, branding and packaging design books. Surround yourself! If I have a design problem I can’t solve I just dive in and start flipping pages. The answer is inside, you just need a new way to let it out!
9. Cut up old shoes:
You need to see how shoes are really put together. Learn the hows and whys of shoe assembly . A great drawing of a shoe that can’t be made will never make off the page! That said…A stunning new shoe design that challenges your development team can be good to!
10. Fortune favors the bold!
Take chances! Your shoe designs should pursue perfection no matter what kind of shoe it is. Do something new and different! Work hard to understand the design challenges then attack from a new direction. Find a new material for your shoe design, use an old material in a new way. Visit the shoe factory and see what they can do, see what they can’t do. Don’t take no for 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 this is the best part of being a shoe designer, seeing the future in my mind and working to create it.
If you want to learn more, check out our new books.
Print Editions and Instant Downloads Available Now!
E-Book edition 170 pages. PC and Mac compatible PDF file. Download Now!
E-Book edition 220 pages. PC and Mac compatible PDF file. Download Now!
Now enjoy the double download of two Sneaker Factory books.
Print Edition, 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings.
Print Edition, 250 Pages with over 400 color photos and drawings.
A must have for anyone serious about launching a new footwear company!
Print Edition + Paper Pattern + Blue Prints and Spec sheets
Start-up Pack is all you need to get your own shoe business started.
A complete technical specification, drawings, blueprint, pattern and spec.
Computer cut shoe pattern for a classic jogger. Factory Blue Print included.
Entire pattern size run for the Arris classic trainer, Men’s US 7-13 (Euro 39-47)
24 inch tape specifically designed for measuring shoe lasts.
Try the first 3 chapters for Just $3 bucks! With discount code good of $5.00 off!
Great for checking leathers and synthetic materials. Features adjustable dial.