June 15, 2020

Sneaker Culture is Focus of Outreach to Youth by ArtCenter College of Design

Workshops encourage kids to make dreams come true through education and careers in creative industries

ArtCenter College of Design will provide free Sneaker Science workshops to kids ages 11 through 18 to encourage them to pursue higher education and, ultimately careers in the creative economy. Leveraging the tremendous popularity of the sneaker culture, the College hopes to raise awareness among middle and high school students about degree programs and professional opportunities in the footwear field.

“Our goal is to help kids discover the educational and career pathways available to transform their passion for sneakers into a solid vision for their future and a reality that is absolutely attainable,” said Roosevelt Brown, an associate professor in ArtCenter’s Product Design department’s wearables and soft-goods track and a 25-year veteran footwear designer.

An ArtCenter alumnus, Brown is leading the initiative with Aaron Bruce, vice president and chief diversity officer at ArtCenter. Together, the team is working with the South Los Angeles-based Brotherhood Crusade, a youth development, nonprofit dedicated to improving quality of life and meeting the unmet needs of youth, to enroll students in the workshop series.

“We’ve all heard the starving artist stereotype,” said Brown whose mother would tell him ‘you can’t just draw your way to a living.’ “It’s time to move beyond that myth and enlighten the world about economically viable careers in art and design. We know that when a seed is planted for youth to develop a clear vision and they decide to pursue a creative career, parents become energized to support that dream and find the resources and mentors to make that dream come true for their children.”

The first in a series of online workshops will take place June 15 and 18 for middle school and high school students online. The events are being organized by ArtCenter’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion department. For information on how to enroll, questions or accommodations, please email dei@artcenter.edu.

The workshop is designed to help attendees understand how many viable employment opportunities are available to them along the sneaker supply chain. The curriculum includes sneaker history, the design process of shaping an idea into a product for sale in a retail store, research, ideation, concept and prototype development, packaging, marketing, photography, advertising and more.

“Trust me, if someone had told me in middle school that design was a practical career option, there is no doubt in my mind that I would have continued on that trajectory after high school,” said Brown who loved to draw from an early age. Instead, he pursued a degree in engineering because he excelled in math. It wasn’t until he learned about ArtCenter from a professor at California State University Los Angeles that he discovered degree programs in industrial design.

The sneaker culture has long been a destination for ArtCenter grads. Throughout the years, some of the biggest players in the footwear industry have benefited from having ArtCenter alumni leading and contributing to shoe design, including Nike, Adidas, New Balance, Vans, Skechers and Under Armor. Currently, Martin Lotti (BS 97 Product) is Nike’s vice president of design Jordan, and Al Van Noy (BS 87 Product) is Adidas’ senior vice president in charge of its Future Team. And, before co-founding athletic shoe think tank Speedhack, Product Design alumni Dave Dombrow (BS 00) and Kevin Fallon (BS 96) served as Under Armor’s chief design officer and vice president of footwear innovation, respectively.

About Brotherhood Crusade: Brotherhood Crusade is a 50-year old grassroots organization with a vision of improving quality of life and meeting the unmet needs of low-income, underserved, under-represented and disenfranchised individuals. The nonprofit has a history of building alliances with other organizations, corporations and foundations of goodwill that are committed to and understand the tremendous need for helping the community and people grow and prosper. To learn more about Brotherhood Crusade, please visit, www.Brotherhoodcrusade.org.

About ArtCenter: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and seven graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round educational programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society. artcenter.edu.

Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396-2385

Photo of Roosevelt Brown in his shoe lab.
Roosevelt Brown, an associate professor in ArtCenter’s Product Design department’s wearables and soft-goods track, will teach the free Sneaker Science workshops online.
Ad for sneaker workshop.