Graphic Design Students Create Custom Sneakers

Instead of spending the final weeks of the semester studying or writing papers, Graphic Design III students worked tirelessly to finish a project that they could slip on their feet. Students used everything from cardboard, fabric, leather and 3D printed parts to create their own custom shoes for their final project. To get started, they got a little help from professional shoe artist Katie Shaffstall.

Ms. Shaffstall helps a student with her project concept.

Teacher James Gonzales first saw the work of Shaffstall Kicks for professional athletes featured on ESPN, then realized she lived just minutes away from Valor. She accepted his invitation to speak to graphic design students and offered her expertise earned by creating hundreds of pairs of custom shoes for clients all over the world. She shared about processes, materials and lessons learned through trial and error, as well as information about how she built and maintained her own business.

The shoe design project was a new challenge for Payton Campbell ‘22, but Ms. Shafstall’s tips helped her feel prepared to take it on. “Being able to meet Katie and hear advice from someone that customizes shoes as a business was really inspiring,” she says. “Before she came in, I had very little idea what I was doing and how I was going to accomplish this project. She pointed me in the direction of using an airbrush and helped give me an idea of how the preparation process works.”

Payton Campbell ’22 designed her own shoes, packaging, and apparel.

The process of creating and branding a shoe design, including both product and packaging, encompasses one of the things Payton enjoys most about graphic design. She reflects, “I think that graphic design lies at a crossroads of sorts, between being creative as an artist in a more traditional sense, but also using it practically to make an everyday, real-world impact.”

Helping students learn practical skills is one of Mr. Gonzales’ top priorities. As an artist who enjoys making custom shoes for his own friends and family, he saw this project as an opportunity for students to learn more about function and style. As they forge their own unique paths ahead in design, the only shoes they have to fill are their own.


View all students’ project galleries here:

Christina Jacobsen
Payton Campbell
Nathan Ringquist
Anna Frome
Blake Kuykendall
Mollie Porch
Beau Thomason
Kaylee Hardesty

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