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Vans Kicks Off “Custom Culture” Contest

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Win $75,000 for Your High School’s Art Department!

By: burgundy bug

Vans Custom Culture 2020

Source: Vans

Vans invites all public and private high school artists to participate in their eleventh annual Vans Custom Culture, an art contest designed to “inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design and to bring attention to diminishing arts education budgets.”

Registration is open now through Jan. 31 and the grand-prize winner of $75,000 will be announced in mid-May.

Additionally, the top five runner-up schools will be selected to receive an art lesson from one of Vans’ art ambassadors: Kelly Breez, Robin Eisenberg, Todd Francis, Penelope Gazin, or Jay Howell, says a recent Vans press release.

“Vans Custom Culture not only showcases the core values of Vans as a brand but encourages today’s youth to continue to share their stories, experiences and the things that are meaningful to them through creative self-expression,” said Mitch Whitaker, General Manager of Vans the Americas. “This special contest presents a unique opportunity to support high school art programs across the country, as well as rewarding the talented artists with more support to do what they love.” 

How to Register for Vans Custom Culture

Register your school for the Vans Custom Culture contest!

Source: Vans

High school art teachers and administrators can register online until the end of the month for a chance at being one of the 500 schools selected to participate in Vans Custom Culture.

Those interested must enter information about their school and provide their personal contact information. Applicants must also be over the age of 21.

Vans Custom Culture Application Rules

The following application rules are outlined in the 2020 Vans Custom Culture Contest rule document:

  • Vans Custom Culture is open to public and private high schools for grades 9th through 12th throughout the United States
  • The contest is only open to those who register with Vans
  • High schools that have won a grand prize or were finalists in past Vans Custom Culture contests are not eligible to participate
  • After school programs are only eligible if they operate under a public or private high school
  • Only one application may be submitted per high school
  • The applicant must be an authorized high school representative

Save These Dates!

  • Jan. 6 to Jan. 31, 2020: Registration
  • Feb. 3 to Feb. 7, 2020: 500 high schools will be selected to participate
  • Feb. 10 to Feb. 21, 2020: Vans will send shoes and supplies to the 500 high schools who have been selected to participate
  • March 31, 2020: Image submissions of the shoes are due
  • April 20 to May 1, 2020: A public vote on entry submissions will be held online
  • May 4, 2020: The top five winners will be announced
  • May 11 to May 15, 2020: The grand-prize winner will be announced

I’ve Registered, Now What?

Vans will announce the 500 schools selected to participate at the beginning of February. The applicant will first be notified by Vans via email and telephone with another confirmation sent via snail-mail if their school has been selected.

Then, Vans will supply each selected high school with a pair of white, size nine Slip-Ons and Authentic sneakers along with basic art supplies:

  • Pencils
  • Markers
  • Glue sticks
  • Tempera paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • A watercolor pad

Vans says the art supplies are good for up to 20 students. All selected high schools will receive the same art supplies, but colors may vary.

How to Hit the Ground Running in the Vans Custom Culture Contest

Win $75,000 for your high school’s art program through Vans Custom Culture

Source: Vans

Each sneaker must be devoted to one of this year’s themes, “Local Flavor” and “Off the Wall.”

Local Flavor

Sneakers styled in the “Local Flavor” theme should address the following:

  • What’s special about where you live?
  • How can you showcase local pride?
  • What’s unique about your home that would be fun to highlight?

Off the Wall

Sneakers styled in the “Off the Wall” theme should address the following:

  • What does “Off the Wall” mean to you?
  • What does “Off the Wall” look like?
  • Think outside the box, and off the wall! Be bold. Be different.

Additional Considerations

Vans values originality and stresses the importance of avoiding copyrighted images, logos, and celebrity likenesses.

Additional tips for decorating the shoes and brainstorming ideas are provided by Vans here. A template for decorating may be downloaded from the Vans Custom Culture site here.

Still have questions? Skate on over to the Vans Custom Culture FAQ!

Interested in having content featured in an upcoming blog post or issue of The Burgundy Zine? Head on over to the submissions page!

For all other inquiries, please fulfill a contact form.

burgundy bug


A cynical optimist and mad scientist undercover, burgundy bug is the editor, graphic designer, webmaster, social media manager, and primary photographer for The Burgundy Zine. Entangled in a web of curiosity, burgundy bug’s work embodies a wide variety of topics including: neuroscience, psychology, ecology, biology, cannabis, reviews, fashion, entertainment, and politics. You can learn more about working with burgundy bug by visiting her portfolio website: burgundybug.com

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