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Our In-House Army Vet Develops SJK’s First Original Camo Pattern

Meet Vince Mares and 

Disruptive Shadow Technology.

Vince & Marily 

(Pictured here: Vince with our Marketing Director Marily Melis.)  

We caught up with Vince Mares, Creative Director for Slumberjack Tactical Hunting Gear and Exxel’s Big Market & Outfitter Group. Vince gave us insight into SJK’s first original camo pattern, Disruptive Shadow Technology, which he created. DST debuted at SHOT Show 2017, will show at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market next week, and then hits stores and ecommerce in August. See the DST video here.

Vince has been with our company for 8 years and lives with his wife and two children in the Boulder area.

Vince, let’s start with - What drives you in the outdoors?

Vince: Most anything outside - snowboarding, cycling, running, backpacking, rock-climbing and shooting.

So you’re a prolific outdoorist. And, you studied at one of the most respected fine arts institutes in the nation - California College of the Arts in San Francisco, then went into designing outdoor and hunting gear. 

Vince, what’s the story there?

Vince: Yeah, it may on the surface seem like I diverged, but not really. The San Francisco Bay area is an epicenter for art, design and outdoor brands in general. I really do appreciate art. But at CCA I was in the Industrial Design Program. My courses were focused on the high-tech industry. And I was heavily into rock-climbing and backpacking. Most every project assignment I had, I put an outdoor spin on it. My classmates and even my professors would tease me about it. I didn’t care since I was very passionate about my projects and did very well. I was also working part time at a mountaineering/backpacking store in Berkeley so I was very involved in knowing and selling the latest gear.

Tell us about one of your tech design assignments, that you put that outdoor spin on.

Vince: One memorable assignment was to create a teleconferencing device commonly seen in a meeting room. Meeting rooms are usually not very inspiring. So I designed my teleconferencing device to be ruggedized for outdoor expedition or disaster relief use. It was all self-contained in a hard-case type of box. Once you opened it the lid was removed to be a solar panel, it also had a foldable satellite dish.

Wow, you envisioned all that back in the 90s, you had a lot of foresight. And how’s your design journey been going since then?

Vince: The journey has been great so far. Early in my career I had the opportunity to design a whole military line of tactical backpacks and hydrations systems. Given I am a US Army Veteran, I was very close to this project. A few of my designs are still being copied today so I’m a bit flattered. I have 10 years of technical backpacking design experience so moving to Colorado to design tents, sleeping bags, and other product was a whole new learning experience.

And now, you’ve gone from gear design to camo design. Tell us about Disruptive Shadow Technology.

Vince: It’s SJK’s first original camo pattern and we’re very psyched about it. I was excited to get an opportunity to create a camouflage pattern of my own design from the ground up. You see, I’ve been a camouflage enthusiast and collector for a long time, even before I served in the Army.

What’s different about DST?

Hunter in DST blends in with the terrainVince: What this does in the field -- it effectively disrupts the human form in the eyes of a hunter’s prey. It works at long range or in close quarters. We’ve created an illusion through depth of field and color adaptation, so hunters blend in with varied terrain for ultimate concealment. 

Our base inspiration for it was also quite different - shadows and negative spaces of natural foliage. We integrated sharp outlines with blurred shadows. I am a very firm believer in innovation so I often look for inspiration in nature and in other products outside of the given category I’m working on.

Can you share more about your process of creating the pattern?

Vince: Yes, I believe that form follows function and that smart design should be purposeful and without frills. In the case of DST I started the project by observing nature. We had decided our focus was the High Mountain Hunter. So I took hundreds of photographs of the various terrain in the high mountains, to capture and catalog its colors, textures and shadows.But, after creating some concept swatches of various camouflage patterns I discovered that my 2-D renderings of these patterns were just my own interpretation of what camouflage looks like. I didn’t find these first designs were compelling or inspiring. 

This made me rHunter in DST shooting in the fieldeally think about how to capture what I had observed in nature and how to translate it into a pattern. I stepped out of the office to get some fresh air and to think for a while on this. I just happened to notice the shadows cast onto the sidewalk by the surrounding trees. And it was right then, the DST concept was born. The DST pattern really came from nature. We extracted the colors, textures and shadows, and created the repeat.

Interesting! And how did that lead to the name, Disruptive Shadow Technology?

Vince: It was a collaboration with the whole product development team. The pattern has very distinctive Shadows as part of its functionality and we wanted to communicate this. The pattern also happens to be Disruptive in the sense that we stepped outside the box and created something unique. DST did not really come from graphic designers, but more so from our directly extracting a native camouflage pattern from Mother Nature’s play between foliage, light and shadow.

Any hints on what’s in the pipeline for the next DST patterns?

Vince: Yes, I can tell you we’re exploring other color options for other types of terrain.

Looking forward to seeing it. 

And, we know from around the office that you’re way into music. Do you yourself play any instruments?

Vince: I’ve been in a few bands as a vocalist and later as a drummer. One band I was in - we opened for Green Day. But I didn’t really know who they were at the time. So I left before they came on stage, because I was in college so I had to do some studying. I do regret not staying to see them though. That next summer their debut album blew up!

A near brush with punk rock royalty! Well, at least all that studying got you to this great career. Vince, what’s on your playlist lately?

Vince: Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of old late 70’s early 80’s punk and metal - the music I listened to as a kid. But my playlists often change depending on my mood. One day its Miles Davis and John Coltrane and the next could be Jimi Hendrix and The Doors. I am very much inspired by music and listen to it pretty much all day long. Music is in my blood, I couldn’t imagine life without it.

Vince, thanks for sharing some of your life with us today!

Be sure to check out our Disruptive Shadow Technology page and our DST video.

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