Greg Collins designs equipment for his sports heroes
When Canadian and ice hockey fanatic Greg Collins realized that he wasn’t going to make it as a pro hockey player, he decided to transform his passion for sports into a creative career designing sports equipment. Today, Greg’s products can be found in sporting goods stores all over the world, and he’s designed specialized equipment for sports like snowboarding, off-road skateboarding, and, of course, ice hockey. A talented Grade 8 art class at the Canadian International School faced off with Greg and quizzed him on his profession.
Alec Bentley, Australia
How long did you study industrial design?
Greg Collins: I studied Industrial Design at the Alberta College of Art and Design for four years. At college it’s all about learning the different design processes that are used in manufacturing. After that, I started working for a sporting goods manufacturer. The factory was huge, with about 1,000 employees, and we made a huge amount of different sports equipment there.
Jae-ean Jang, Korea
When did you know that this was your dream?
GC: I wanted to be a hockey player, but I wasn’t big or strong enough, so I needed something to fall back on. When I was 19, I decided that designing sports equipment would be the best thing for me. I loved sports, especially hockey, and I used to get excited when I thought about the ways I could improve the equipment, like the skates or the sticks that the professional athletes were using.
James Lin, Taiwan (PRC)
What kind of things do you usually design?
GC: Mostly [stuff for]hockey. I’ve done things like skateboards, off-road skateboards and snowboarding. It all comes together – shoes, clothes, and fashion. All these things are styled, created, and have samples made. Pretty much everything you guys can see in front of you starts off with a guy like me making sketches and coming up with ideas before it becomes a fully formed product.
Lee Hyun Chan, Korea
What are the things that interest you about your job?
GC: If you have passion in your career you never have to work a day in your life. It makes for a better life. My career is exciting: I get to travel, meet interesting people. I’ve met athletes in hockey, snowboarding and skateboarding, and I’ve talked with them about how I can help them increase their performance by designing better products. This month it’s baseball, next month it’s snowboarding. I also get to play these sports and get lots of free products, too.
Jasmine Sohn Ji Won, Korea
Have you thought of getting another job instead of this one?
GC: My industry is up and down. Sometimes my salary can be really high if I’ve designed a lot of products and sometimes it can be low. Sometimes I think that it would be good to have a steady paycheck, but those are the sort of things that come with having an exciting job like mine.
Hyung Dong Son, Korea
Generally, how long does it take for you to make one piece of equipment?
GC: It depends. To take an idea from the initial sketches on the drawing board, to the making of samples and prototypes, all the way to production, it can take two to three years. When we are just modifying an existing product with things like different graphics, it can take as little as a couple of days before the product is ready for production.
Lee Sun Jin, Korea
When do you feel proud about your job?
GC: If an artist sells a painting, it makes them feel good. In Canada, I can go into a store and see 10-15 products that I’ve designed. That makes me really proud. If I see some kids playing hockey in the street and they’re wearing some of my equipment then that’s just great. It can also work the other way, where if there is a problem with something I’ve made, and people hear about it, it makes me feel bad when I see people using it.
Ye Jin Noh, Korea
If you had a chance to choose, would you rather be a hockey player or a sports equipment designer?
GC: Well, a professional hockey player can only play for about ten years at the highest level. After that they have to look for something else to do with their time. For me, being a designer is something I can do for the whole of my life, so I’m happy I became a designer. The great thing is that I still get to see all my hockey heroes wearing my products, so I’m happy that I can do that.