Vans Custom Culture competition is saving high-school art programs, one shoe at a time

Is art the answer? Vans seems to think so. The “off the wall” shoe company is now in the eighth year of their Custom Culture art competition, an initiative started by the brand to encourage creativity and art education. Vans invites high school art students across the US to create their most innovative, artistic and original designs using a blank pair of Vans as a canvas. The grand prize? $50,000 towards their school art program.


Customized by Gillian Zinser

“The Vans Custom Culture competition is intended to inspire high school students to express their creativity through art and design, and to raise awareness for the country’s diminishing arts programs,” says a press release from the brand. Since the programs start in 2010, the competition has raised over $745,000 for high school art programs and art education.


Customized by P.S. I Made This

From now until February 10th, high school art teachers can register their students for the competition. Students will be provided with four pairs of Vans which they will interpret as their heart desires to fit four themes — action sports, arts, music and local flavor. Vans employees and internal judges will select the top 50 schools to be semi-finalists, who will then have their work posted on Vans Custom Culture website, where public voting will decide the top five schools.


Customized by Pizza Slime

The top five finalists will receive an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles where they will showcase their masterpieces to a panel of celebrity judges. The overall winner will receive a grand-prize of $50,000 as well as sponsor-related prizes, and each of their runner-ups will receive $4,000.


Customized by Anna Sui

Designers, influencers and artists are also putting their own spin on the tried and true classic slip on. Anna Sui, Carly Kuhn “The Cartorialist,” Gillian Zinser, P.S. I Made This and The Beach People are just a handful of magic makers contributing their vision. And although we’re psyched about it, the real magic is what’s to come. So, don’t forget to register, and start creating!


Customized by Donald Robertson


Customized by Jeanne Yang


Customized by Whitney Bearr


Customized by Kelly Wearstler