Sneaker Design & Customization

For Pride Month, Converse and Nordstrom hosted a multi-day event at the Nordstrom NYC flagship store where customers could get a complimentary Pride-inspired custom from a local artist on any Converse sneaker purchase. I was hired as an artist for the event to create original Pride-inspired designs and customize sneakers with these designs for customers in around 20 minute sessions.

The Process

Prior to the event days, I worked with Converse's branding and design teams to design original custom Pride-inspired mockups for Converse shoes in line with their brand identity. They provided a mood board of their vision, including some of my existing original work as a guide. I then created my own mood board of ideas and from there we discussed and agreed on the direction.

The Mockups

From these prompts, I designed a variety of original mockups for different styles of sneakers. My goal was to ensure they were simple enough to be done quickly, but still felt complete and fit the form of the sneaker in a satisfying way. The final set included "Love is Love", "Pronoun Pride", "Pride Parade" and "Pride Waves" each with variations to showcase different Pride flag colors. I also included small elements like sparkles and heart patterns that could easier be added, varied or removed as the customer desired.

I also designed these mockups to be used in a Google Form "menu" that would help guide customers through the process, reduce potential confusion, and save time. A Converse brand ambassador would have this form available to the customers during the event on an iPad.

Converse also sent me two pairs of sneakers to test on that would be used as display models. I did the "Pride Waves" design on a black low top pair and "Pride Parade" on a white high top pair.

The Event

We were setup with art supplies, including Posca paint markers, in an area of the flagship store where customers could come get their sneakers customized, ask questions or simply watch us work.

I was given the option to hire an assistant, so I hired fellow illustrator and sister, Ariana Mohabir to help aid in design and ensure we could finish each pair quickly and accurately. I would plan out and direct how we were to best tackle each design as we worked simultaneously, including switching shoes as needed to ensure each design was balanced.

Using the mockups menu I designed, customers could chose which designs they wanted as a starting point as well as variations, changes or additions, such as Pride flag colors, hearts, and more. My favorite parts of the event were getting to present the finished shoes to the customers and seeing their joyful responses.

I listened to each customer's wants for their design, while also guiding them and level setting expectations to ensuring we could finish a design in time at the quality that we were all happy with.

While the design menu was used as a guide, many customers chose entirely original designs or distinct variations, which we adjusted to and designed on the fly as needed, such as this Keith Haring inspired design.

We worked across three different days from 11am to 5am, completing dozens of unique custom designs for a range of diverse customers, many of whom had never had a custom done before.

The designs ranged in complexity and color across different styles of Converse sneakers. I loved being able to design with the style of each shoe and ensuring the placement and flow worked along each section and across each pair.

We worked with potential challenges with the materials or time constraints while ensuring we delivered on each custom.

It is a special joy to be able to create original art for someone else and witness the joy and excitement it brings them.

We also got to learn a little bit about each customer as they injected a bit of themselves and their experiences into their design. It was so special to help bring that to life, especially for a Pride-focused event.