When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our shores in 2020, I was out of job and could only take up a part-time 12-hour shift Safe Entry personnel job at Takashimaya earning $8/hour a few days a week to tide over my downtime. On the brighter side, this pandemic also presented me with many rare opportunities to take up courses and equip myself with new skills, many of which were heavily funded by our government (some even paying participants for every hour of lesson they attended) to help the affected Singaporeans get back on their feet. One such course I attended back then was learning how to design my own sneakers using Adobe Illustrator.
Actually it wasn’t like I had a dream of becoming a fashion designer. I was just lured by the outcome that every student would be able to come up with their own sneaker designs by the end of the course to enter a competition by the school (TaF.tc), the shortlisted entries that made the cut to the finals would be manufactured into a real prototype for a Finale Runway Show and the top finalist would be offered to study their fashion design diploma course for free. At that time when I was jobless and lost in the my direction in life, I didn’t hesitate to grab whatever opportunity that came my way even though fashion design was never really an area that I had envisioned myself to dabble in. If doing this could unexpectedly open up a new career path for me, why not give it a try while learning a new skill at the same time?
It helped that I only had a part-time job at that time which was pretty flexible so I was able to commit 4 intensive full days for this sneaker design course. The participants were made up of people of different ages and learning capabilities. We had a mix of older students who were slower and completely clueless on navigating around sophisticated design softwares like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and the younger ones who were fast and competent (of course we also had a couple of mature ones but equally as talented and smart as the young peeps). So it was quite frustrating at times when the lessons got quite draggy because of the need to wait and cater to the different learning paces of the students of varying backgrounds and experiences. What’s more, the lessons had to be done entirely online via Zoom due to the COVID-19 restrictions against in-person classes. So there were many times our instructor was exasperated as she was unable to help the participants to troubleshoot their problems more effectively and directly in person when they got stuck on their software at some points. Oh and have I mentioned that our instructor happened to be a Korean female with the surname Kim too??
I shan’t go into details of what I learned during the course. I would have forgotten most of the steps by now anyway (I’m writing this 2 years later lol). But here are my sneaker designs that I came up with for the competition by the end of our final lesson. We had to provide our AI sketches of one high-top sneaker and one low-top sneaker each.
Because the competition theme was “Modern Artistry”, my idea was to mimic a famous modern abstract painting by Piet Mondrian which consists of coloured rectangles where only 3 primary colours, red, blue and yellow are used, besides black and white.
I also took a bit of inspiration from Taeyeon’s sneakers that she herself designed for a Singaporean sneaker brand Ysneakers in 2018 for parts of the toe cap and mid portions of my sneakers. I originally wanted to imitate her stylish cuts on the sides of the soles too, but after looking at my initial pencil sketches, the instructor feedbacked to me that we were unable to customise the soles for the competition so I had to leave that out haha.
My sneaker designs were perhaps in no way as original as Taeyeon’s, not even similar to hers. I envisioned my sneakers to be like a walking art gallery which we can wear on our feet by incorporating elements of famous art pieces on my designs in order to fit into the “Modern Artistry” theme.
But as you might have guessed, I did not win the competition at the end, not even shortlisted for the finals, sad to say. Neither did I get to apply what I learned from the course into practical use eventually. I went back to doing what I do best professionally i.e. website management and coding, but I know that I still have the desire to continue exploring more of that artistic side of me. Now that I have added sneaker designing to my portfolio, I never know when this little digital design skill that I acquired during COVID-19 might come in handy some day!