by Chris O’Leary

Sneaker design is one of those seemingly impossible fields that lots of people would love to get into, but very few are actually able to do it.

Mark Kokavec is doing his part to change that. The senior footwear design manager at Under Armour, Kokavec studied automotive and product design at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. Last year, he started a website, Render Demo, where he’s been sharing with his viewers the design knowledge he gained from working with industry pros.

While there’s attention paid to other facets of design like watches and cars, sneakers play the most prominent role on the site. Something else you’ll notice on the site’s main page is the SLAMonline.com logo.

SLAM is one of the sponsors of Render Demo’s basketball shoe design challenge contest. The design brief on their website outlines the criteria for the contest.

“Design a basketball shoe for a professional basketball player. The design needs to be futuristic and something that’s very unique. Select an athlete and create a signature shoe for them based on their position, skills and attitude. The athlete can be current or from the past. It’s up to you. Make sure you come up with a point of view. Think out of the box. Remember that we will be judging creativity the content so the final rendering has to be well developed and thought through! Illustrate the side view and outsole design!

Be creative and original. We want to see some wild designs! Think abou branding, function, materials, cushioning technologies and color. is it a speed shoe or a big man’s shoe? Each of these aspects should be considered for your final design. Maybe you create a new signature logo for your ahtlete? The further out there oyu are with your designs the better.”

For the full details on the contest rules and how to enter, visit Render Demo.

Up for grabs are some pretty cool prizes. The first-place winner will have their design published in the Dec. ’09 issue of SLAM (on sale Nov. 24) and will also win sketching software in the form of Autodesk Sketchbook Pro 2010. In addition to having Kokavec reviewing your work, you’ll get two Render Demo tutorial downloads and a Render Demo t-shirt.

The second-place prize winner will also get a copy of Sketchbook Pro 2010. They’ll get one Render Demo tutorial download and a Render Demo t-shirt.

Third-place will get you a Render Demo t-shirt and all three winners will also receive gift subscriptions to SLAM.

You’ll have until Oct. 31 to get your entries in to Render Demo’s site. Get creative and good luck, folks.

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