Vans Custom Culture Competition: Now Open

The arts education awareness-raiser gives high schoolers a chance to come together to design pairs of blank Vans.

There are few things dearer to the Southern Californian's heart, beyond the perfect fish taco and some macking surf, than A) customizing our stuff and B) Vans, in all of their checkerboard-y, old-school, wear-'em-every-day forms.

And each year the started-in-Anaheim outfitter embraces our affection for adding our own artistic spin to our kits with a contest for high schoolers, all in the name of supporting arts education. The competition, which just opened, is called Vans Custom Culture, and numerous high school students around the region will join in the customizing, imagination-awesome project.

How does it work? High school art teachers register to participate — everything's still open for 2016, for sure, so feel free to get on that — and Vans then sends the teacher four pairs of blank Vans. After that? The students take over.

Blank Vans sound way cool, of course, and ready for wearing, but the school's art students'll make them even cooler, by choosing designs and hues and vibes. There are a quartet of themes to work with for the competition, all inspired by Vans "Off the Wall" lifestyle. Do you know them already? You guessed right: They include action sports, arts, music, and local flavor.

Some 79 schools around the LA area jumped into the competition in 2015, and, as of this typing, 57 schools have registered to participate in 2016.

But how long do art teachers have to sign their schools up to join? Through Feb. 12. The design period happens over the second half of February, or pretty much: Feb. 15 through 26 are the dates. (Do note that the submitting period lasts a good long while, from Feb. 29 through April 8.)

"The winning submission will receive a $50,000 donation from Vans to foster the school's #RighttoArt movement, along with the potential that the school will see one of its designs produced for sale at select Vans retail locations and," says a company rep.


The five finalist schools will be chosen in May, with one school winning the 50 grand at a Vans-hosted happening in early June.

The 2015 winner? High fives, Carlsbad High School, for your radical designs.

Is this something your students would dig? Do you know a school that should throw their hat — er, Vans — in the ring? It's a California icon, seen on feet everywhere. And it's an icon that works to connect with the SoCal community in the spirit of art and imagination and, yes, customization, that beloved regional pursuit.

Have you ever drawn on your Vans? Yeah, that was/is a thing, still. Read more about the company's commitment to arts education and the annual Vans Custom Culture.

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