I get asked a lot for advice on how to become a footwear designer. For the most part, and I hate to say it, but most of the people asking won’t actually become footwear designers. This industries tough, I don’t have to tell you that. So how do you get into this industry, if you aren’t already?
Well, in a seemingly rather negative manner, I’ve listed 6 reasons why most of you won’t, below.
Being a footwear designer requires a lot of different skills. From having taste, being able to sketch, understanding basic ergonomics, development methods, etc… there are a lot of different areas of footwear design that a good designer will have to understand and excel in. Education can help with this, whether it’s in high school, college or just learning from others, but a good design degree does not guarantee that you’ll have the intangibles needed to be a successful designer in general, little own a very specialized one.
Being confident is one thing. Thinking you’re the shit is another thing entirely. I think I’m one of the best, I hope you think you are also. That doesn’t mean that I think my work can’t be better, or that there aren’t people out there that can add value to any project I’m working on. To be ignorant and believe your work is the best it can possibly be, is to limit your final product to potentially be no where near as awesome as it could have been. Team work makes the dream work.
I hear it time and time again, ‘Yo, I put a design out there and Nike made a shoe that resembled it slightly, I’m sure they stole it’. Well boo, f*cking hoo, bro. I’ve literally had products and ideas totally ripped off, and I’m cool about it. Now obviously, if you have some super innovative, life changing idea, then don’t be silly, make sure you protect it. If it’s just design features though? Stop being a p*ssy and put your work out there for people to see. Claim your work by putting it out there, and you know what? If someone takes it (and if they do, then it proves it actually was pretty dope), it’s your ‘job’ as a creative to understand that you can come up with those brilliant design features again, and again. Putting your work out there refreshes you, it allows you to move on to something new and to not hold on to something you did in the past. You also never know how sharing your work can improve your idea, or where it might lead (brands are always searching for possible interns).
Quick story: One of my best friends studied fashion in school. He loved the designs he did for his final so much that he thought the teacher would steal them, so he didn’t hand them in. He failed the course. Is my friend a super famous designer now? Well, he ended up graduating college with a degree in Business and another in Economics, so I’ll let you figure it out. My point being, don’t be afraid to share your work.
The footwear design industry is incredibly small. The footwear development world might be even smaller. If you don’t embed yourself within it, it’s going to be tough for you to sneak in the back door (pause) and get into the industry.
I think the point has been driven home more than anything else on this list. If you don’t have the drive, stop now and get a full-time job at a respectable coffee establishment or something, because this isn’t the industry for you. I think that covers this point fairly well.
If you really want it, you’ll do it. No excuses.
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