Vans Custom Culture 2019

The Vans Custom Culture Contest is officially open for 2019, with a mouth-watering cash prize of $25,000 being offered to the winning design. For those who aren’t familiar with the annual contest, entrants receive a blank template that they then color and/or enhance according to their own original design. Once submitted, the design is uploaded onto the Custom Culture website. After the closing date, all of the designs are put to a public vote. The top 10 designers are then asked to actually create a new custom shoe with the help of Vans design mentors. The winning design not only receives a cash prize, but gets to see their unique design released in 2020 as the Vans Custom Culture drop. 

The contest was officially opened September 5th. Prospective winners have until September 29th to submit their original design through the contest entrance form on the Custom Culture website. On October 1, a selection of the top designs will be opened to a public vote until October 13th, at which point a panel of Vans Judges will narrow the top votes down to 10 finalists. On December 5th, the top ten will be paired with a Vans design specialist to actually create their own custom shoe, and have until December 12th to submit their creation to a panel of judges. The top three winners will be announced on December 19th, but the grand prize of $25,000 only goes to the number one design, which you will be able to purchase when it’s officially produced by Vans and released next year. 

This year’s contest will mark the 10th anniversary of contest, with last year being one of the most competitive years in the contest’s history. Vans as a company has been noted for its continued support of underground, alternative, and/or experimental music, hosting such programs as the Warped Tour music festival for alternative music and sponsoring a number of musicians in alternative music groups. Back in 2009, the Custom Culture Contest was launched to further the company’s commitment to support the arts, but this time with the intent of encouraging Vans fans to pursue the visual arts. While there is no age limit for contest entrants, submissions from high school and college students are particularly encouraged by the company. Since 2009, the company has put more than $900,000 dollars into art education programs for middle and high schools across the United States, and last year did a pretty dramatic overhaul of the contest format to make the opportunity more financially accessible to young people and college students. The 2018 contest actually opened itself up for schoolwide registration, selecting 500 US high schools, both public and private, whose art programs had been cut due to budgeting reasons. The winning school received $75,000, and the four runners up received $10,000, to reinstate an art program, with art supplies to help students create their designs provided by Vans at no cost. 

This year’s contest is going back to the original model, with individual applicants being encouraged to submit their designs rather than entire schools, but the message was sent, and the impact clearly felt. However, 2019’s contest is once again changing things up – this time by announcing the first ever Global Custom Culture Contest. In the past, only North American submissions were accepted for consideration, but this year, the contest will be taking place in three regions, with select countries eligible to participate – North America (USA, Canada, Mexico), Asia and the Pacific (Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Taiwan), and Europe (Germany, the United Kingdom, France). The contest rules are the same for each region, and there will be one winner selected from each region to receive the cash prize of $25,000 USD and see their design released as a special drop in their region. Each winner will also be able to name an art charity of their choice to receive a donation from Vans. So if you’re currently located in one of the eligible countries, break out your markers and colored pencils – you’ve still got a week left to take a stab at that prize money.