Tinker Hatfield: Jordan Shoe Designer, Sketches, Net Worth

4 Jul

Tinker Hatfield is widely considered the most important sneaker designer of all time, and possibly single-handedly responsible for the entire sneakerhead culture. He has lived in Oregon for most of his life, and attended college at the University of Oregon College of Design. Hatfield was very athletic as a young man, and sports included basketball, track and field, and pole vaulting. Bill Bowerman, the track coach at the University of Oregon, thought that Tinker could compete in the Olympics as a pole vaulter. This may have happened if he didn’t have a serious pole vaulting injury when he fell about 17 feet and tore his ankle.  After graduating, he was hired by Nike almost immediately as a designer in 1981. 

Tinker Hatfield Shoe Designer

Initially, this job at Nike was designing displays for trade shows and retail. When the shoe company decided to have a 24-hour shoe design competition, Tinker eagerly submitted some outstanding designs. His career as the lead designer of Nike fashion sneakers started two days after the competition was over. They clearly knew what they had and wanted to nurture this vision.

Tinker Hatfield Jordan 3

Tinker Hatfield completely change the game with his Jordan 3 design. The legendary story involves Michael Jordan showing up several hours late to the meeting where Tinker unveiled the Jordan 3. Clearly, he did not expect to be so blown away by this amazing new sneaker concept. Hatfield designed the Air Jordan three through 15 and decided to take a break. He was quickly back to design the Air Jordan XX, XXIII, XXV, and XXIX, along with the Air Max 1, Air Max 90, Air Trainer, and Air MAG for Back to the Future II. Tinker has a very personal and meaningful relationship with Michael Jordan, and this bond has become the quintessential example of how a designer and athlete can create something truly spectacular. it’s interesting to note that without the Air Jordan 3 design, Michael might have left Nike because he was unhappy with the designs for 1 and 2. As we learned in The Last Dance, Jordan initially wanted to work with Adidas, and they began to show interest after the success of the Air Jordan line. After Jordan was blown away by Hatfield’s designs for the Air Jordan 3, his relationship with Nike was set in stone and the rest is history.

Tinker Hatfield Sketches

Tinker Hatfield was featured in the first season of Netflix‘s show Abstract: The Art of Design, which is a  docu-series that goes in depth with famous designers of different backgrounds. We get to see his amazing process and sketches in this show. His concept sketches are quite striking and could stand alone as original artwork. In these sketches, he is very thorough about describing the specific part of the shoe. It’s very cool to see the actual final product after looking through his sketches.

Tinker Hatfield Sketch
Jordan 5 Sketch
Tinker Hatfield Sketch Jordan 6
Jordan 6 Sketch

Tinker Hatfield Net Worth

Tinker was included in Fortune magazine’s list of 100 most influential designers of the 20th century. The artist currently lives in Hillsboro, Oregon, with his wife Jackie, and they have three daughters. His estimated net worth is $25 million. He receives a very large annual salary from Nike, however, most of this wealth is from the stock options that he gets from being one of the lead designers for the company. Tinker is also a very smart investor, and his wealth has grown exponentially over time.

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