what makes a successful footwear designer?
I am not sure what is a successful footwear designer, first to mind for me is Tinker. But That is mainly athletics and not looking at the full spectrum. I think success varies from person to person an area of footwear your in whether it being athletics or dress. You mentioned selling shoes, strong concepts/ ideas. are these ways to measure the success of a designer in some ways yes. But many time the shoes that sell a large amount of orders are the ones that you design an least like. In my situations, I have found because we are designing for a target market we have to keep this in mind that no matter how much I love it, it doesn’t matter, It has to be liked by thousands of others, and many times this means…what I have heard called, “dumming it down”… so even to judge a designer based off what has made orders is not always going to show his or her full range of skills. But I think its a great challenge to be able to design a shoe that is like a payless or more basic large orders shoes because you are having so many restrictions on cost, target market, etc, that it challenges you.
I think being able to think and come up with creative ideas will always put you in a situation to be successful. But I think many traits also go into being successful:
understanding how to work in teams
attitude (being open to new/ other ideas-to grow)
understanding the business aspects
always learning/ exploring
the list goes on…
advice to inspire those to come in:
just being on core seeking info from other students/ pros great start
use these forums as a tool/ aid along with school. its like the old saying you get out of it what you put in…the more sketches projects , questions you post the more these things will be worked out an progress will occur.
Dont blame anyone, no one is to blame, not the teachers at your school, or your class assignments or whatever… If you want to design shoes then do it. You don’t have to get an assignment in class to get started on this. What I did my freshman year of college that got me actually into shoe design: to design a shoe/ sandal that could hold your weight. trick is could only be made out of xerox paper, no glue, nails, wood, tape nothing but paper and it has to hold your weight an you walk in it across the room. Try this maybe this will spark some ideas to how you come to designing other types of shoes. Also I would purchase shoes at footlocker when they would go on-sale, for like 39.99. I would take them home an re-design them. these are just some ways to get you thinking about shoes outside of class an school meaning you have to do the leg work an put in the effort.
Sketch, and sketch some more, but for me I am not worried about how purdy a sketch is, If I wanted to make my sketches purdy I would go into illustration or fine art. I think we get too involved in what the way it looks an not as much focused on the idea of concepts behind them. Dont get me wrong, I think the sketches should be in proportion, an all thst good stuff but to me they are for your use an to brain storm ideas. They should be able to communicate your ideas as well.
begin to talk with, learn from people’s work you admire, try and contact them, ask them personally how they do there work or did things to get where they are. build relationships. For me some things over these past couple years that has really been a back bone for me is the great friendships I have developed with men an women in this industry an how they have motivated me an been there for me. But I respect them an I think like all things in life we treat with respect an we get that back, being modest an working hard also been told numerous times is the way to go.
have goals in your mind of where you would like to be an what types of shoes you would like to design, and then also have other options. It has taken me now over 3 yrs to get into athletics. Went from motorcycle boots to men’s construction boots, hiking books, to dress casual an so forth. What I am getting at is if you love to do basketball shoes an you dont get into adidas or nike or new balance or and1 or whatever there still is footwear design in other areas than athletics. I will tell you that you can learn so many things from doing dress an casual shoes. Be open to try out other areas of the field, you never know you might end up liking it more.
don’t wait until your senior yr to start all this- I would start as a freshman in college to put a portfolio together an try an get some internships an then maybe by your junior yr. work on some freelance work, by your senior yr you will probably some product on the shelves and a pretty solid portfolio and contact list to be able to have options for a job.
Will have more to write - 6am finally getting to go pass out now for a couple hrs until work all day. but feel free to contact me anytime, email me, IM me whatever an can talk shyt out.