Since most of us are working or studying from home, this is a perfect opportunity to pick up a new skill or hobby online. If you are unemployed or hoping to switch career, ride on this opportunity to learn from home without having to step out of your house. For me, I took this amazing opportunity to take up a new challenge, as I would always do. It’s in my blood to do something unconventional.
Enriching my Circuit Breaker days with a challenge
During the circuit breaker days, I took part in TENCEL™ Art of Shoes Design Competition which is organised by Taf.tc. It is a renowned and reputable fashion school in Singapore that offers courses from sewing, fashion designing to shoemaking. I previously took up their basic sewing course. It was an enriching experience learning to be learning how to sew professionally.
This time, I wanted to further my skills and knowledge in fashion so I decided to sign up for their shoe design competition. I wasn’t particularly interested in shoes but I just thought that it will be interesting to understand what goes behind the making of a pair of shoes.
Who knows? I might have a flair in shoe designing. I won’t know unless I try it for myself.
About the TENCEL™ Art of Shoes Design Competition
TENCEL™ of Shoes Design Competition is a great opportunity for those who are interested to pursue a career or education in footwear design. The top 3 contestants will each be awarded a footwear diploma scholarship. If you emerge as the top winner of the competition, you will also get a work placement opportunity. Such opportunities in the fashion design industry don’t come by easily especially in Singapore where the fashion industry is small. If you are an aspiring shoe designer, why not take this chance to show what you’ve got! You design might be selected, produced and sold for pre-orders online.
What to expect for the Art of Shoes Design Competition?
The registration fee for the TENCEL™ of Shoes Design Competition is very reasonably priced. It costs SGD74.90 as most of the fees are subsidised by our government. It includes a compulsory 4-day Digital Footwear Design course where you will be learning how to use CAD tools like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to design your shoes.
Since all schools are closed during Circuit Breaker, the classes are conducted online and we participants have to do home-based learning. We have to attend a series of webinar and e-learning modules during the course. The best part about e-learning is probably the time and transport costs you’ll save by attending lessons online. Nothing beats staying at the comfort of your own home and being in your comfy clothes.
What will the participants be provided with?
Thankfully, the school provides students with Adobe Cloud accounts so that we are able to use the software to design our shoes during the course. All you need is a laptop which can support the use of the software. E-textbooks with notes are provided and they are quite detailed so you can always refer back to your notes if you are lost.
There’s also an assessment to be done at the end of the course but it isn’t too difficult at all to pass. It basically assess your skills and knowledge of the designing software tools as well as the basic footwear design knowledge.
If I am able to pass this course, so can you!
What you need to do for the competition?
In this competition, each participant has to design two pairs of sneakers and submit the designs digitally at the end of the course. It was certainly a challenge for me because I do not know how to use Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop prior to this course. Also, I had absolutely no idea what shoe designing entails. But you don’t really need much prior knowledge for this course as long as you know how some computer basics. You can head over to the competition website to check out the course requirements.
How is the e-learning experience like?
Today I have officially completed my 4-day online course. What a huge relief! The learning process is rather intense. Classes start at 8.30 am and ends at 6.30 pm. Staring at the computer screen intensely for hours is no joke. And of course, you will need to be super attentive so that you can follow along.
Day 1: Home-based learning is tiring.
The learning curve for me was steep as I had to learn how to get myself acquainted with the drawing tools in Adobe Illustrator within a day. After the first lesson, I was so mentally exhausted that I started to question why I put myself through this. But thank goodness, I perserved. What’s a challenge without any hurdles?
Thankfully, our instructor, Natalia was very patient with us. She conducts her lesson over Zoom and we are able to ask her questions every now and then. After completion of each task, she will ask us to share our screens so that she can check our work.
Technically-speaking, there isn’t much of difference if we were to attend face-to-face lessons physically in a classroom setting. The only difference is probably the lack of social interaction with each other. It is a little awkward to be communicating with the other participants in during the online lesson. We could also interact with the instructor online and focus on her teaching and instructions.
After Class Situation
After the first lesson, we had to finish up our shoe design and sketches so that we can present it to our instructor during the individual consultation sessions. So I had to spend a couple of evenings to do up my sketch over some Oreos and milk. I call this ‘finding comfort in the discomfort’.
Day 2: Getting the hang of things
Once I got used to the routine and workflow, Day 2 was a breeze. I got the hang of things and was able to learn a little faster. We spent most of the time tracing shoe designs and studying the shoe parts. It can be somewhat tedious and mundane but I guess we needed sufficient practice so that we can draw shoes on Adobe illustrator with ease. We also need to learn how to make clear and precise drawings so that our designs can be communicated properly and accurately across to the shoe makers.
In the second half of the lesson, we went on to learn how to render our designs on Adobe Photoshop. The user interface on Adobe Illustration is somewhat similar to Adobe Photoshop so it wasn’t that difficult to pick up the Photoshop skills.
Day 3: Completing the course syllabus
By day 3, I felt confident in drawing and designing a pair of shoes on my own. You could say that I was pretty competent in using Adobe Illustrator to draw digitally after the instructor thought us all the tools and its respective functions. At the end of day 3, we have completed all the course syllabus.
Thus, after class, I worked on my designs and created several drafts. I spent hours and hours drawing and rendering my shoe design. On top of that, we also have to insert materials into our shoe design and accessorise it.
There was a lot of thought processes that go into the design of the shoes. And if I were to sell it, I would probably price it at $250.
Day 4: Assessment and graduating day!
It’s day 4 today and I was so glad to have completed the course. It was indeed an accomplishment so I gave myself a pat on my back and congratulated myself with some homemade banana cake.
In the morning, we did our online assessment test via the schools learning portal. Since it was an open-book test, we were able to refer to our online textbooks and search for answers. It was relatively simple.
Thereafter, we were asked to perform some simple tasks on Photoshop and submit our work samples to our instructor for checking. There is still some time left after lunch to complete our design as well. But I’ve completed my designs the night before and finalised them this morning. ( I will share my final design after the competition so stay tuned for that!)
The last thing left for me to do was to email my work over to the school. Boy was I happy to click the button ‘sent’! I felt so accomplished after graduating from the short course and completing my competition design.
My Afterthoughts: Appreciating the art of Shoes
Some of the participants, like myself, probably have not exactly use Adobe Illustrator to design shoes before but they also got it after a few practices. It was definitely not easy to design a pair of nice-looking shoes that has commercial value. Imagine all those hours that goes behind the making of a pair of shoes!
Now that I’ve gone through the course, I have a better appreciation for shoes in general. When you pay a few hundred bucks for a pair of Nike shoes, you are actually paying for the tremendous effort that goes into the shoe designing process. So is $300 for a pair of shoes expensive? Not until you consider the number of days, weeks or months that goes into the designing and constructions of shoes.
Shoes, these days, are not more than just accessories to complete our outfits. They can be regarded as fashion statement pieces that reflect your character or personality.
Do you have a cupboard full of shoes? Why not learn more about footwear? And then design a dream pair of sneakers of your own. I guess I could put these skills to good use and design a one-of-a-kind pair of sneakers for my wedding.
How to sign up?
Head over to TENCEL™ Art of Shoes Design Competition and sign up at their website. There are more intakes in May, June and July so what are you waiting for?