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Georgia Grown Shoe Designer: Quintin Williams of Q. Designs
Quintin Williams is a native of Perry, Georgia and graduated from Perry High School in 2007. At Perry High School, he was a student-athlete where he was a Varsity basketball player, participated in marching and symphonic band, and excelled in the classroom as a Honor Student . Throughout his youth, he was always into art and drawing. He then went on to Savannah College of Art and Design to major in Industrial Design. Upon graduating, he landed a few internships and opportunities in footwear design. Some of his designs received recognition from different companies and websites. He has been featured on websites such as Nice Kicks, Bleacher Report, Complex, and many others!
Brad: It’s been a while, man. I see your work on social media and what not and it’s good to see a Perry Panther doing well. Tell me your work history and experience and how you got to where you are now.
Q: Yes! Perry Panthers stand up! I’m now living in Los Angeles, but I’ll forever be a Georgia boy….haha. My experience in the footwear industry really started when I was a junior attending SCAD in Savannah, GA when I landed my first internship in Brooklyn, NY designing construction/outdoor boots. That experience gave me tons of knowledge and insight into what it really takes to design a shoe from scratch. It also made me understand that designing footwear was something that I wanted to do for the remainder of my design career.
Immediately after that internship, I was hand-selected from a worldwide pool of footwear design student to attend PENSOLE in Portland, OR. PENSOLE is footwear academy led by former JORDAN Brand Director, D’Wayne Edwards. At PENSOLE you are taught by industry leaders that have helped major corporations like Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Converse, etc get to the levels they are today through design. You’re also given a personal project to work on and develop while you’re there. I met so many people and gained so much hands-on knowledge at PENSOLE. When I left, I felt as if I had a better “grip” of what designing of shoe can be. It’s not only an creating something beautiful for people to throw on their feet, but you can emotional pull them in by implementing storytelling within the design.
After PENSOLE, I graduated from SCAD with my Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Design. A few months later, I was commissioned to work and develop a line of athletic boots by the same company I interned with in Brooklyn….only this time I would be designing in Dongguan, China! I live and designed in China for 2 months. AWESOME experience! To witness and live within a culture you’ve only seen on TV was so humbling for me. The people over there aren’t as privileged as we are here in America. It will made me appreciate the things I have at my disposal here. Plus I got to see how a shoe factory actually works in person…tons of knowledge gained once again. When I returned back to the states, I still was hungry for more success! I was entering ever footwear design competition I could possibly enter. I’m a very competitive person, so I expect and push to win anything I do.
A few months passed and I didn’t win anything nor did I have a job yet in the industry! It was frustrating and disappointing at times but it was a sign to me that I just simply needed to get better. So I kept plugging hours and hours of sketching and rendering, in hopes of being the best. I finally got recognition of my hard work when I won first place in Power Force Apparel “Design the ‘You” Shoe” competition, which in turn landed me my first official design job in the industry. I was Lead Footwear Designer for Power Force in Birmingham, AL for one year and now I’m Lead Footwear Designer for PEAK Sports USA in Los Angeles. I’ve been employed here since June 2013. The lesson and message I’ve taken away from my journey so far is stay persistent! DO NOT give up because better days are to come. You are the creator of your future…make it awesome
Brad: Tell me more about Q. Designs and how you got it started.
Q: So Q.DESIGNS is something I’ve been dreaming about for a few years now, which is basically to have my own line of shoes! Being a designer, it’s natural to want the world to know and love your designs. For me personally, I think it’s cool to design for other companies and let the masses love and wear them. But at the end of the day, it’s the company that’s own’s YOUR design. I got to a point in my life where I felt I had adequate knowledge and contacts throughout the industry to go and pursue my own shoe line. In my mind, I had all that I needed to do it…so why not? So I started by designing shoes, apparel, and accessories that I thought was cool to have underneath a brand and now here I am. And note that Q.DESIGNS is not only a brand, but the other side is a footwear consultancy for any person or company looking to create some cool shoes. So needless to say, I’ve been quite busy. haha.
Brad: Any particular companies that you design for now?
Q: Companies that I’ve designed for include the DISNEY Company, Spira, Bear Paw, APEX Ski Boots, Native Shoes, Groove Revolution, and a few more. I love to mix it up. My speciality and true love are basketball sneakers, but to design other types of footwear is very intriguing to me because it pushes my creativity and makes me more versatile in the long haul.
Brad: How would you describe your designs and what make this different from other designers?
Q: I’d describe my style as modern, innovative, and fresh. Personally, I think my designs are different from other designers because I’m simply designing what: I like. Of course, as designers we tend to pull inspiration from what’s trending in the marketplace at the moment but I try to stay away from that sometimes. If you look at my two styles I’ve designed for my Q.DESIGNS line, even my backpack design, you can say that you’ve seen that mix before when it comes to sport casual, or as I like to call it “athletic luxury”. I want to break the mold and push what mainstream says is “what’s in”. I’m designing for the future.
Brad: I am not familiar with how sneakers are designed and manufactured. Can you walk me through that?
Q: Shoe manufacturing is typically a 18 month process for bigger corporations. So this is a synopsis of how it is. First thing is know what consumer this new shoe will be marketed to along with research into what’s trending and what’s next. A design brief is created based off of those parameters. This would include multiple inspiration queues as well. The designer then goes to start sketch ideation of what the shoe could look like. It’s then reviewed and more revisions are made until the concept of the shoe matching what the company is looking for. The design is later specced out with all views, dimensions, materials, and colors…what we call in the industry a “techpack” or “tech package”. This is then sent to the factory. They replicate the design via sampling. This is done until it’s perfectly matching the designer’s idea. A final sample is made then on to mass manufacturing, then shipped to retailers, then bought by you! A short condensed version of what it takes to create a shoe.
Brad: Lately, you have received a lot of publicity for your concept designs for Johnny Manziel’s football cleats. For people who are not in tuned with professional football, he was a First Round draft pick for the Cleveland Browns and he is sponsored by Nike. What made you come up with the concept and color ways for it and do you think something may come from the publicity?
Q: Yes the Johnny Manziel cleat. WOW. I had no clue that this cleat would’ve spawned so much publicity! I’m so thankful of it though because personally I loved the design. That’s biased but I really loved it! Haha…being that it was my first cleat design ever, I was quite shocked at how it spread throughout the sports and sneaker world. I think what made me come up with the design was only due to the fact that Johnny “Football” was so hyped prior to his NFL draft then news came out that he was signed to Nike.
A few months before this, Nike received a 3D printed cleat named the Nike Hyperagility and I was literally drooling over the design. I kept that aggressive design in the back of my head because it inspired me so much. So when Manziel was drafted, I thought instantly I should design what I think he should wear as a signature cleat. I used that 3D printed cleat as the base and added my flavor to the upper with improved lockdown across the forefoot and added lateral stability with the carbon fiber structure. The colorways were inspired by the Brown’s signature colors, stealth, and the Miami Heat. I came up with the Heat colorway because LeBron James was spotted wearing Manziel’s rookie jersey AND he’s originally from Cleveland. It made sense to me.
Brad: With you being a designer and living in LA, I know you are paying attention to designing and celebrities collaborating with brands . Like now, you see music artist such as Kanye, 2 Chainz, Pharrell collaborating up with Adidas. Then on the other side, Nike stick with athletes like Lebron, Kobe, and Carmelo. How do you feel on Adidas teaming with people outside of sports and what kind of impact will it make ?
Q: I think it’s great personally. Anything that breaks the mold as far as what’s been done in past is awesome for the sneaker culture and community in my opinion. It’s captivating to watch because you want to see how big the impact will be. I see Adidas’ moves to sign artists as a stepping stone for them, because it will start to bring in an audience outside of the sports realm. The Adidas Originals side was big into the lifestyle side of the brand, but now with the multiple signing of these artists, I think it will grow rapidly.
Brad:What kind of projects do you have planned for the future? New products?
Q: WOW! So many! Of course the Q.DESIGNS brand I will continue to push, but I also what two other brands I’m working to launch in the near future. I’m working man! I have to keep most of this stuff under wraps for now, but soon I’ll be able to share. I just love creating. This is my passion. This is my calling. This is what being a designer is all about.
Check out Q. Designs official website - Q. Designs Footwear
Follow Quintin Williams on Twitter - @Q_Designs
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