Mark Kokavec is an experienced footwear designer currently working with a major athletic brand. He's worked for top brands like Reebok, Converse/Nike, New Balance, Burton, Merrell, Oakley and Under Armour. Mark founded renderdemo.com an online design resource where artists and designers can enhance their sketching and rendering techniques using step-by-step instructional video tutorials.
I’m currently the Design Manager of Running at New Balance. There are 15 highly talented designers that focus primarily on running inline and advanced concepts. It’s a very collaborative environment where we bounce ideas off each other all the time. Its also important to mention that we work within smaller groups within running. I work very closely with both my Development and Marketing counterparts. Things come up during the day and decisions need to be made so we have to be very close. The best products always seem to come out of the groups that work well together.
Being a footwear designer is extremely fulfilling. The greatest joy for me is being able to design performance footwear for athletes that perform at the highest level. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on projects with many elite athletes such as Venus Williams (tennis) and Dwyane Wade (basketball).
Inspiration comes from two places.
The first comes from the overall creative direction set for the category. These are used so that a harmony or “red-thread” will align and unify a large product range. Depending on the season there can be anywhere between 5 - 20 new projects so ensuring a strong brand identity is important.
In addition to the overall creative direction, I find personal inspiration from a few different places. My main influence is from the entertainment industry. I find that there is a lot of creativity that happens in this field due to the unlocked boundaries of reality. There aren’t as many design constraints to work around so the mind as able to push the limits of creativity. I have folders that are broken down into specific parts so when I’m doing research, I place inspirational images there and refer to them all the time. I also look to other industries for inspiration such as automotive, furniture, product design and architecture. I’m always searching for images that are pushing the limits of creativity and try to do the same in my footwear designs.
Materials and color are extremely important. Sometimes it’s the last thing a designer thinks about, but its one of the first connections a consumer makes when they are shopping. Vibrant well balanced color blockings draw consumers in so they pick up your shoe. That’s when the next sense kicks in… Touch. At the end of the day, your design still needs rock. It’s the combination of a good design, color and materials that need to all work together to make a successful product.
I mix and match everything from analogue pen and paper to digital tools like the 24” Cintiq, Illustrator, Photoshop and SketchBook Pro. I’ve been using SketchBook Pro ever since the first release and provide feedback on new versions as a beta tester.
My workflow consists of starting out in SketchBook Pro where I come up with all of my initial concepts. Once a final design direction is selected, I create the technical spec drawings using Illustrator. I really like using SBP because I can create very realistic concepts fast and with minimal effort. I have templates set up with pre-rendered logos, meshes, hardware, etc. In some templates I’ve even added the shading as a multiplied layer. So I just need to add a few lines with a little color blocking and “voila” my concept looks pretty realistic. It’s made my process very efficient.
My project is called “How To Draw SHOES Sketchbook”
I wanted to create a sketchbook for anyone interested in footwear design or in learning how to draw shoes. This is something that I wish would have been around when I was a young designer just starting out. The book goes over some basics about footwear design such as… foot anatomy, shoe anatomy, types of shoes, proportions, perspectives and more. It uses a “phase-out” process of templates and guidelines that you can sketch over. Hundreds of templates from side views, perspective views, bottom views and more. As you go through the book, guidelines are slowly removed so that by the time you get to the end you are able to sketch and draw your own designs without the need for any guidelines or templates.
In addition to become a supporter and getting a copy of this cool sketchbook, I’m also including footwear design video tutorials from my renderdemo.com website. Step-by-step video tutorials that show you design and rendering techniques using digital software like Sketchbook Pro!
There’s also a book signing, Skype 1-on1 portfolio critiques and more as incentives.
Here’s the campaign link: http://kck.st/1lHz8RW
Thank you for your support!