Posted on Aug 23

Essentials: These are the Tools One New Balance Classics Designer Just Can't Live Without

  •  Essentials: These are the Tools One New Balance Classics Designer Just Can't Live Without

Great footwear design doesn't just happen. It's the result of inspiration, supreme talent, and the tools to make that inspiration come to life.

We went in-house here in the Boston New Balance office to connect with Victor Toro - one of the supreme design talents behind many of the brand's top shoe lines - to get a look at the essentials that drive his creative process. Victor is the designer of all New Balance Elite Edition product and most recently, the "Propaganda" Pack.

These are the tools of his trade, straight from the man himself, shot on his desk at New Balance:

1. CM1600MK: This style from the upcoming "Wanted Pack" (available 11/1) is in my Top 5 rotation of sneakers I like to wear. I love the feel and look and the color on the MK fits with any combination of jeans and shirts I wear. I also like how comfortable all the 1600s are and this one has one of the cleanest looks about it.

2. Binder/Clipboard: I’ve had this thing for 10 years and it holds a lot of my current concept sketches and fresh sheets of Hammermill 28-lb Color Copier paper. I added some magnets to the corners so it snaps shut and nothing will shift or fall out. I’ve done thousands of sketches and finished pencil work on top of this thing and it’s still going strong. I hope to get 10 more years out of it.

3. Comic Party Manga: I like to rotate out Volumes 1 through 5 in my backpack. The reason I carry this around is because the main character goes though a lot of stuff like I have when it comes to art. The love/hate relationship and the struggle to improve and push ones skill. It also talks about the relationship issues that can come up when a person might have to choose between love and art. It’s never an easy one, but the one that supports your passion is always the best one to walk beside.

4. Self-Published Comics: After hours or during lunch, I will be working on comic character designs, clothing designs and color combinations that I use for my comics and art. I sell this stuff through Indy Planet. I’m a bit slow when it comes to cranking out the final drawings, but I’m usually happy with them and I learn a lot from the mistakes I make along the way.

5. Bobble Water Bottle: I carry this with me at almost all times. I need to keep hydrated, even if I’m sitting at my desk having a dry mouth can get distracting.

6. Hand Grip: I picked up a set of these to get my hand strength up, so that I can draw longer without my fingers or wrist cramping up. When I crank out a lot of art and need to do fine details, keeping up the dexterity of my hand is important.

7. Westcott Stainless Steel Ruler: I carry this around in my bag as well. I’ve used this for years for drawing comics or laying out designs for outsoles and uppers. Over the years of me using it I’ve rubbed off some of the tic marks used to measure. As long as I can draw a straight line with it, I’m good.

8. Beautone Expanding Folder: I keep the bulk of my paper, comics, and other smaller ruler and drafting tools in this. Works great and keeps everything flat.

9. Coffee (Breakfast Blend): Love this stuff ... It helps keep me going during late nights and gets me up in the morning when there is work to be done.

10. "Final Fight One" (GBA): I keep this in my bag at all times as kind of a reminder of one of the games that inspired me to make my comics. It’s an old school beat ‘em up game, but it is still fun to play from time to time. I loved the work that people put into the games from the late 80’s and early 90’s and "Final Fight" was one of those games I used to hit at the 5-and-10 department store back in my hometown of Harrisburg (Penn.). I dropped so many quarters into that machine to try and save Jessica.

11. 3DS and PSP: I have a huge collection of games, and I picked up these systems just to play a few that I really like. On the 3DS my current game is “Project X Zone” and on the PSP I’ve been playing “Persona," “Castlevania X Chronicles” and “Street Fighter Alpha 3." All of these games have that old school feel, with lots of great character designs, colors, and level design. All of these games have some great talent behind their designs and I respect the skill and time it takes to make games like these ... And they are fun to play.

12. Staedtler Electric Eraser and Sharpener: It’s messy but gets the job done when I’m using colored leads for my base drawings and does a great job of cleaning up the lines. It’s really funny when I fire it up in the office and people think it’s my cell phone stuck in vibrate mode. The sharpener works great for the 2mm leads that I use.

13. LED Flashlight: I keep this in the bag for emergency use and also to test out how materials reflect before and after they are placed on the sneakers I work on.

14. .3mm Pentel Leads: These are for my fine details, like drawing stitch lines. You have to have a soft touch to use lead that thin - if not, it will break every few lines drawn.

15. Orange Triangle: I combo this up with the steel ruler to get some nice right angles or lay down some perspective lines. Small and effective.

16. SD/Micro SD Cards: I carry games, photos, and design work on these. I can throw them into my PSP to view or pop them into my Macbook Pro or Mac Mini. Anytime I find some great images or color combos, I make sure to throw them on these for later use.

17. Pencil Collection: Out of the hundreds of pencils I’ve used and have bought over the years, these are my stars. I’ve got sizes .3mm, .5mm, .9mm and 2mm. I also have a mechanical eraser and Sharpie for good measure. Each of the pencils has different types of lead in them - red, blue and black. I use the colored leads as my base for rough sketches, and draw over them with the black so I can later remove the color-lined work using the "Hue/Saturation" window found in Manga Studio, Photoshop, and Pixelmator (yes, I use all of those).

18. Staedtler 2mm Leads: I use these to fill in large areas of my pencil work and also use it to make a thick, solid outline on my drawing to make some parts pop more than others.

19. Koss UR10 Headphones: Nothing fancy here ... just some headphones that blow other headphones of the same size out of the water. I can get some clear bass out of these and they are lightweight to wear most of the day when I need to slip them on and off to talk to people, or in my walk to and from work.

20. iPhone 4s: I’ve got a cheap rubber case and then added the clear plastic coating on the glass to keep the thing from cracking. I’ve dropped this on it’s corner and face down, with no cracks and only minor scratches. This thing is important to me because of the apps I use and the other information stored on this. I keep PDF files of “Figure Drawing For all it’s Worth” along with the “Valdis Story: Art Collection” on here for artistic references. I also like to use “Adobe Kuler” and “Color Capture: Benjamin Moore” to throw together new color combinations. I have a few games on here that I like to play like “Robot Unicorn Attack 2” for some mindless fast-twitch fun.

Then the music I listen to on a daily basis is a mix of hip-hop, rock, metal, motown, blues, jazz and parody with some Game and Anime music as well. Right now I’m rotating Dujeous “It’s” and “Spectacular," Jean Grae's “Cookies or Comas," “I Go Hard” (Whiz Khalifa) from “The Man With The Iron Fists” soundtrack, “Fatti Soto” by Funkareem, and something new I heard by Plantina Jazz called “A Moonlight Serenade.”

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