Designer Profile – Joseph Palermo

views: 0

What should everyone know about you?
Vast and varied experience, in delivering a successful shoe business both at retail and wholesale. Trend Analysis, Concept Development, Total Design Responsibility & Line Merchandising, Prototyping, Fit Corrections, Marketing, Manufacturing, Quality Control,

Retail, HR and Financial responsibility.

I can successfully do it all, but I have focused my talent and interest on the area I have enjoyed the most over the years, the design aspect of the business. Although I had already designed and build many seasons of complete shoe lines, I decided to be the best shoe designer I could be and have sharpened my skills in this area significantly.

I went back to school, and graduated from college in 2005 with a degree in Graphic Design Technology. From there, I went to Milan Italy and studied at the world famous Arsutoria International Institute of Footwear Model Design, graduating with a Diploma in both Footwear Modelist Design and in CAD – CAM Computerized Design.  All of the original design examples in this overview, I sketched by hand and then computer designed and rendered.

How would you describe what you do?
 I am a lifelong student of shoe design and have a passion for it. Taking trend analysis and interpreting the markets, I can design a total, balanced line. Creating concept sketches and computer renderings to project a total statement.

Why did you choose to be a designer?
After designing being just a part of my total responsibility for many years, I decided to pull out that part of the business I was enjoying the most and focus on it soli.

What steps did you take to become a designer?
 When it came to design, I was most fortunate to mentor under Vince Camuto at Nine West where I spent many years assisting him in the factories and he taught me the basics of good shoe design and how to master the process. From there I was charged with building many lines of footwear and went on to further my formal education in a number of ways. The single best design advice I think I got was to make the time to sketch every day.

Best/Most Challenging part of your job?
That’s easy; being constantly creative and understanding the timing of that creativity.

If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
If I had not gotten into the shoe business and designing, I guess I would have found some other outlet for creativity. That could be in any field of endeavor as long as there was the chance to contribute to the creative process. I have a very inquisitive mind and have many interests, so I am sure I would have found something to be passionate about as I am about the shoe business and designing.

How did you get started in design?
 I was always interested in design of all sorts. When I got into the shoe business I just followed that passion as part of my total responsibility and studied on my own at every opportunity.

What do you like about what you do?
 I like starting with a blank page and ending up with a product that is a success.

What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
 Probably, that it’s all glamorous.

Ask any shoe designer and they have stories they can tell you about the realities of process. You just have to find a way to make it all enjoyable.  You can if you really love it.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
 I have no other aspirations except to design and I hope to do it for as long as I can.

What sparked your interest in design?
 I figured out early on, that in the best shoe companies, it was the design element that drove the business and a management team that put design first. That sparked my interest.

How has your work evolved since you began your career?
 I just kept getting personally better at the design part of the business, where I can honestly say I think my work is at its best today.

Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
 I just never have been a big sneaker guy. I will turn to more outdoor wear for casual. Techy hiker types and such.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
 I am most interested in bottom design right now. I feel like you can really bring freshness to any classification by designing new fresh bottom interest in both shape and materialization. That’s where computer design is really strong.

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
 In retrospect, I have been spoiled at times. I have, through the years worked with some really great shoe companies, and great people over the years. You just come to appreciate both those things as you become more experienced. There is a lot of very talented and generous people in the industry.

What advice would you give to young designers?
 It would be to learn to sketch every day, just like you hear writer’s try to write every day. It really makes all the difference. Secondly, don’t be a loner. No one person is successful unless there is others that want them to succeed. Look for the good in people, everyone has something to offer, something to learn from.

What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
 Just to find contract work, project work, or someone to really discover what I have to offer.

Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
I am not superstitious. I think luck is the point where skilled practice crosses over opportunity. Just be ready when the right chance to shine comes along. It also helps to mentor with successful people in your field. I can’t tell you how many people have helped me over the years.

What’s your motto?
 Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent

Other (feel free to tell the readers anything about you that we didn’t ask)
 Please contact me if you are interested in me designing for you. I can be reached at T 203-545-2262 or

Joseph was trained and taught by some of the industry leaders.

He studied under the great Italian modelistas, Adriano Lunati, Roberto Gussoni, and Paulo Marenghi, while attending the famed Arsutoria for Shoe Design in Milan, Italy.

Joseph owes a debt of gratitude to so many, but in regards to design, he was particularly fortunate to have been mentored by the great Vince Camuto, in all aspects of shoe design, for many years.

Joseph is available for any project and works out of his studio; Protofast Designs, in Vero Beach, FL. He is also able to relocate, for any length of time, to build a collection or work on a contract basis.



T- 203-545-2262