4Cent Friday // Why I Started Designing And How I Now Design

words & images // Ben Adams-Keane

4Cent Friday is a weekly design blog on SoleCollector.com written by a member of the 4Cent Design team. Subjects may range from discussing rendering skills to design inspirations, to thoughts and opinions on the state of footwear design as a whole. For more background on 4Cent Design, check our interview here.

To explain why I started my blog, Shoodles, I'm going to give a little background on the start of my design career first. I started designing shoes in the 6th grade after I saw the White/ Navy Blue Nike Zoom Ultraflight sitting on the shelf at Footlocker. I remember looking at that shoe and being stunned by its glassy TPU heel counter, pebbled leather quarter, and its incredibly-hard-to-fit-into inner bootie construction. It was so complex, so crafted, and so futuristic. It was inspiring to me. So inspiring in fact, that it wasn't enough for me just to look at that shoe. It wasn't enough for me to just appreciate its beauty from a distance -- I needed to find a way to connect to it. To understand it. It's a difficult feeling to describe, but I think every designer or artist has a moment like this in their career.
Designing my own shoes became my way of connecting to the Ultraflight's beauty. Every time I put pen to paper, I was projecting my emotions onto the page. If I was tense and angsty, my strokes showed it. If I was loose and flowy, my strokes showed that too. The designs I sketched weren't just distant objects of beauty - like the Ultraflight - instead, they were manifestations of my own feelings and emotions. Instead of looking at my sketches and just appreciating their beauty, I could see my own emotions shaping their beauty. The shoes became extensions of myself. It was, and still is, an incredible feeling to have that bond with my designs. It's that feeling that has kept me motivated throughout my design career. 
And beyond that, it's what has kept me drawing shoes every day. I simply love the feeling I get when I look at my finished sketch and see my thoughts and personality in it. It's addicting. I have to give myself a little fix of that everyday. 
That's why I started shoodles. 
Shoodles is a bit different than most design blogs in that it's not really, well, a design blog. It's not about exploring design ideas, its about capturing my daily craving to create beauty that I can connect to. It's not really about the design of the sketches I post, it's about capturing the emotion in them. I'm not interested in communicating the design intent, I'm interested in capturing that emotional bond I feel with the sketches. I don't scan them, I just take stylized photos. I don't explain the ideas behind them, I just let the sketch's attitude speak for itself. 
Now, I'm not saying this is good design - in fact, you could argue it's not design at all. These designs rarely improve on anything, they hardly ever have a consumer in mind, practicality is left by the wayside…the list goes on. These aren't really shoe designs. These are just shoe doodles. But amidst their silliness and impracticality, you can see the core of my identity as a designer peaking through: my constant desire to create and connect to beauty. I think that's something worth capturing and sharing with the world. 
Look out for more entries every Friday from my fellow 4Cent Design members, and be sure to check out our site 4CentDesign.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook. If there are any speciifc topics you'd like us to discuss, please leave some suggestions in the comments section.

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