Art students compete for $50,000 prize


These shoes, designed by students at Carlsbad High School in California, placed first in 2015.

With a grand prize of $50,000 at stake, the pressure is high for select art students, who will be participating in the seventh annual Vans Custom Culture shoe design competition. Vans will be selecting 50 schools to be featured as semifinalists, the top five finalists then being chosen by a public vote for the opportunity to showcase their designs in Los Angeles; however, only one school will be crowned the overall winner.

“The school signs up and we are sent four pairs of blank white Vans shoes,” said senior Liliana LeBeau, a competing art student. “We build them up and make them look really cool, and then we send in pictures. The winner gets money for the school that goes toward the art program.”

The Vans competition features four different categories — action sports, art, local flavor and music — that will be tackled through teamwork. Various teams have been formed to take on each category. LeBeau will collaborate with juniors Brittany Reyes, Brandon Rabel and Grace Bryant in the art and action sports divisions.

“For the art design, we’re going to make the shoes hippie,” LeBeau said. “The Vans are still going to be Vans, but we are going to put lights on them and paint them to look really cute. They will have things coming out of the top, and the little trunk will be open so that the painting will come out. For sports, nothing is set in stone yet. We just have ideas.”

Senior Margarita Rexach will be partnering with senior Jordyn Sosa to conquer local flavors, a category that focuses on representing the specifics that characterize each participant’s local area.

“Jordyn and I were originally going to do a Disney castle,” Rexach said. “But since there were so many copyright issues with Disney, we decided to turn one of the shoes into an alligator instead. The front of the shoe will be cut open; this is going to be the mouth. It will have a tail coming around the end. For the other shoe we are going to be painting the beach, St. Augustine, a lighthouse, Sea World and Universal. It will basically be a mash up of the Orlando attractions and a little bit about the beach and what Florida is known for.”

Students are also in the process of developing ideas for the music category.

“We are thinking about turning the two shoes into an actual headset,” Rexach said. “Then we could paint different arrows around the headset of the different ways people have danced since the 1910s up to now.”

In order to finish the four designs in time for the competition, the teams will take advantage of Power Hour after having worked throughout spring break.

“It’s a lot of work, especially if you procrastinate,” Rexach said. “Unfortunately, procrastination is something West Shore kids are well known for.”

Despite the strenuous effort the art students are expecting, they continue to hold high hopes for the future.

“Based on how things are going so far, I feel like all of us are working together really well, and I hope it continues like that,” junior Brittany Reyes said. “I feel like everybody is pretty excited about the idea of winning, and I think we have a good chance of placing.”

By Elizabeth Marrin