Just when you think you've seen it all, athletic shoe designers come up
with a new look for running shoes.
"We're very busy -- like many others -- every day trying to come up with
the perfect sports shoe," says Chris Brown, an athletic shoe and product designer
in Nashville, Tennessee. "We push the limits to do better. Look at how far
running shoes have come in the past 20 years!"
Early in the 20th century, athletic shoes were called pumps, and they consisted
of canvas uppers with gum rubber coatings. In those days, one pair of "tennis
shoes" was worn for all sporting activities. Then the running boom of the
1970s caused the sale of athletic shoes to rise tremendously. New companies
like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Tiger, Brooks and Pony brought new ideas and
specialized sports shoes to the market.
Even with computers on the scene, there are some basic talents shoe designers
should have. They mix artistic skills with marketing and engineering research
to come up with the best design in a very competitive business. "Hone your
drawing skills," says Brown. "Drawing is very important. You can always work
on the peripheral and technical skills like computers. Those will take care
of themselves. But being able to draw well makes this so much easier."
Don't overlook the basics, says Maria Kozo, a footwear designer. "Legible
handwriting is very important. I suggest as many industrial arts, arts and
architectural drawing classes as you can get. And designers are a different
breed -- you have to have confidence in your ideas and your concepts. It's
important that you be able to go against the grain."
Creativity is important in all design fields. You must also have a strong
sense of detail, color, balance and proportion. "Use your creative thinking,
work hard, have a goal and most of all, be honest," says John Fluevog, owner
of a shoe company.