A year to remember

As is typical each December, I look back on the year that has just passed. This was one of the best years—if not the best year—of my life. I’m so thankful for the opportunities that came my way, as well as for your love and support. I look forward to what 2014 will bring for me and redshoes26.

My booth at No Coast Craft-O-Rama in December at the Midtown Global Market.

My booth at No Coast Craft-O-Rama in December at the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis.

Here’s a quick recap of 2013:

  • I participated in 29 art and craft shows this year. In addition to many in the Twin Cities—No Coast Craft-O-RamaCraftstravaganza and Craft’zaStone Arch Bridge FestivalSaint Paul Art Crawl—I also traveled to several in other states. I went to Texas twice, did two events in California, and also showed my work in New York, Ohio, North Dakota, Illinois, and Rhode Island.
  • My list of retail shops grew to 20. Newly added in 2013 are PharmacieRoe Wolfe, the Minneapolis Club, the Weisman Art Museum’s WAM Shop, and the Mill City Museum Shop, all in Minneapolis. Outside of Minnesota, there’s The Foundrie in Chesterfield, MO; Sparrow Collective in Milwaukee, WI; Collector in Berkeley, CA; and Third Street Gallery in Grand Forks, ND.
  • Thanks to the shows I did in the different states, my State Icon collection expanded immensely. I went from having about 75 different drawings at the beginning of the year to ending with 168. And I have plans to add lots, lots more in 2014!
  • So many custom State Icon orders came in this year. It truly warms my heart to know that people have chosen me to draw things that are important and meaningful to them.
  • I completed several logos: one for an anti-bullying organization, Let’s All Be Friends, another for internal communications at Best Buy, and one for my dad’s new business, On The Level Woodworking.
  • I wrote three stories for Viking Magazine, a Sons of Norway publication.
  • As Art Director, I designed all of the printed materials and ads for MNfashion again this year, including for our twice-yearly fashion events, The Shows. Prince even showed up for one night of The Shows this spring, and it’s exciting to think that he saw my work! MNfashion also brought back the rock/fashion show Voltage this year, and I helped our crew with that event as well.
  • I photographed a wedding in Sandstone, MN, that was really fun.
  • I was a hair model again, this time for Kathryn Hornick of Root Salons. We participated in Wella Professionals’ TrendVision 2013 event at the Walker Art Center.
  • I joined Instagram! You can follow me there at redshoes26cj (you can also check in with me on TwitterFacebookPinterest, and via my monthly email, redshoes news).

It’s Cyber Monday!

This will be short and sweet since I’m in a car on my way home from Austin, TX (no, I’m not the driver), but I wanted to let you know that I’m joining in on the fun of Cyber Monday. Make a purchase today, Dec. 2, on http://www.redshoes26design.com/shop and pay no shipping. No coupon codes, no hassle. Happy shopping!

Renegade Austin : In photos

As many of you know, over Thanksgiving weekend I traveled to Austin, Texas, for the Renegade Craft Fair at the Palmer Events Center. I went with Larissa Loden and her husband, Aaron, who had both been to Austin (including Larissa to last year’s Renegade) and raved about it for the entire time I’ve known them, which is about 1.5 years. When I found out I’d gotten into the show around September, I was ecstatic.

I couldn’t wait to see Austin, and I was not disappointed. Renegade itself was a great two-day show, and Larissa, Aaron, and I extended our trip to five days so we’d have plenty of time to get the full benefit of the warm weather, fantastic food (as you’ll see below), and overall cool vibe of the city.  Our friend Kenney met us for the last three days of the trip.

Here is a sort-of summary of our excursion, in photos.


Our first night in Austin, we headed pretty much straight from the airport to Home Slice Pizza on South Congress Street. I loved the black-and-white striped umbrellas and strung lights that were overhead while we waited outside, with local beers in hand, at a picnic table for our dinner table to be ready.

I was so tired, but I couldn’t wait to experience this city for the next five days. It seems I was already in love with Austin.


What up, Home Slice? (Yeah, I went there.) This was the New York-iest pizza I’ve had outside of New York. I wish we had one in Minnesota.

Larissa and I dipped our toes into Barton Springs warm afternoon after a long walk. The water was icy, even to us cold-blooded Minnesotans, but there were still about 12 people swimming laps in it (not pictured). We even caught a man swimming in his tightie whities. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

The next afternoon, Larissa and I dipped our toes into the Barton Springs Pool after a long walk. The water was icy, even to us cold-blooded Minnesotans, but there were still about 12 people swimming laps in it (not pictured). We even spotted a man swimming in his tightie whities. You can’t make this shit up, folks.

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner, which we purchased in the hugest Whole Foods in the land (it's based in Austin--who knew?) on a picnic bench in a park. It's funny to me that I didn't photograph any of the food we purchased, but I did snap this shot of the "cookie buffet" in Whole Foods. I didn't even purchase a cookie for my (spectacular) meal, but the choices of cookies available was out of control.

We enjoyed our Thanksgiving dinner, which we purchased from the most humongous-est Whole Foods in all the land (WF is based in Austin–who knew?) on a picnic bench in a park. They have a killer hot foods area, where you can also get beer, desserts, whole chickens, soup, ethnic foods, etc.

It’s funny to me that I didn’t photograph any of the killer Thanksgiving-y food we purchased, or our spread on the picnic table in the park, or even Larissa and Aaron smiling in the sunshine. But I did snap this shot of the “cookie buffet” in Whole Foods. I didn’t even purchase a cookie for my (spectacular) meal, but the choices of cookies available was out of control. I guess I thought I needed to immortalize that fact.

The Magnolia Cafe is so worth the wait--there's always a long line. I love the "Sorry, we're open" sign, below. And the way the hostess sang Larissa's name over the loudspeaker to call us to our table.

The next morning, I discovered that the Magnolia Cafe is so worth the wait. There’s always a long line, and we dove into it with no second thoughts. I love the “Sorry, we’re open” sign, below the main sign. And the way the hostess sang Larissa’s name over the loudspeaker when she eventually called us to our table.

My unbelievable omelet and gingerbread pancake. It was one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. And that's a bold statement, coming from this breakfast lover. Salsa, sour cream, and salsa verde....it was seriously so good.

My Prima Dora omellete with a gingerbread pancake on the side were both outstanding. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. And that’s a bold statement, coming from this breakfast lover.

Allen's Boots, another iconic Texas location that is included in my Texas Icons series. I love this sign.

Allens Boots, another iconic spot, is also part of my Texas Icons series. I love this sign.

We drove to San Antonio to watch the Houston Aeros (minor league affiliate of The Wild) take on the Rampage. Aeros won, 2-1! Woo hoo!

One night we drove to San Antonio to watch the Houston Aeros (minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Wild) take on the Rampage. Aaron and Kenney are huge hockey fans, and since they haven’t gotten to see any NHL games this year due to the stupid strike, we made sure they got their fix. The Aeros won, 2-1! AND it was Dollar Beer Night! Woo hoo!

What?! There's no basement in The Alamo?!

What?! There’s no basement in The Alamo?!

A gigantic Texas-themed Christmas tree near The Alamo.

A gigantic, Texas-themed Christmas tree near The Alamo.


Them Texans sure do have state pride, y’all.


Larissa & I (The Girls) vs. Aaron (pictured) and Kenney (The Boys) duke it out in shufflepuck at a bar on Sixth Street.


Larissa goes in for the kill. She and I were victorious over The Boys in our game. I believe our win was in the stars, as I noticed before we started play that our rocks came in a bag that was numbered #26….


My Texas Icons at Renegade. I cranked out 11 illustrations the week before we left for the show.


My Breakfast of Champions the first morning of Renegade: “The Carney” donut from Gourdough’s. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. I am not joking. I will dream about this donut until I can have one again. This photo makes me drool.


Later that night: Even though we were full from our dinner from the Torchy’s Tacos food truck, we made room for Amy’s Ice Creams. ‘Twas *not* a bad decision. (As a disclaimer, I didn’t eat lunch that day. Just sayin’.)


My Oatmeal Raisin Cookie ice cream with a couple large oatmeal raisin cookies as my “crush in” was not overkill. No sir.


The next afternoon, we went out of our way, to Round Rock, Texas, to hit up the city’s namesake donut shop, which is one of Larissa and Aaron’s favorites. I was happy to go along for the ride (and enjoy the “prize” at the end of the trek). Does it seem like all we did on this trip was eat? I assure you, it was not. Only about 60%. Ha.


A tough decision greets you as you open the door at Round Rock. Notice the gigantor donuts in the top right corner of this shot.


The small milk carton is to show scale. Holy mama….



We opted for a dozen “regular sized” donuts for the four of us instead. We didn’t want to be gluttonous, after all.


On our way back from Round Rock, Larissa burns off her carbs and sugar with a heated game of pinball at an arcade.


I *do* wish Austin, Texas, was not so far away from Minnesota. Sigh.


The other side of the iconic Austin Motel sign (forever immortalized as a Texas Icon by yours truly).


Spotted on South Congress. Unfortunately, we did not find Mr. Gosling, so we couldn’t return him to his (wannabe) girlfriend. A shame, really.


I can’t wait to go back to Austin again in the near future, so I hope to get into Renegade again next year. All of my fingers and toes are crossed.


This is a photo collage I whipped up of us in front of the famous Austin painting that’s on the side of a building. We each stood in front of a letter and took individual photos, and I cobbled them together. How cute are we? (From left to right: Aaron, Larissa, Kenney, and CJ)

p.s. Larissa and I went for several runs while on our trip, and setting up and tearing down for Renegade–not to mention dragging our suitcases (plural) jam-packed with our wares and display pieces to and from the show and up and down several sets of stairs and all over the freakin’ airport on the way TO Austin and FROM Austin was HARD WORK (I had the bruises to prove it). We burned off at least half of our calories with those activities, I have no doubt. Just in case you’re wondering how we both still look so svelte after we got back from this trip. ;^)


Behind the art : The making of a State Icon

Ever wondered what goes into making one of my State Icons? Here’s a sneak peek at some of the work that has to be done to make one little framed illustration.

The garage turned "shop," aka, "Where the magic happens."

My parents' garage turned "shop," aka, "Where the magic happens."

My dad is a self-taught woodworker and a lover of tools. He has turned the garage into a place where he makes beautiful furniture, as well as the frames for my State Icons series.

How it all begins.

How the frames begin.

Sheets of plywood are cut down to frame size and then cut twice more to include the bevel and the place where the glass sits. They are then sanded and angle-cut into pieces, so there are two shorter sides and two longer sides, in order to make the rectangular frames.

The glueing jig

Gettin' jiggy with it (OMG)

My dad made this glueing jig so four frames can be glued evenly at once.

The backs of a batch of frames, post paint

The backs of a batch of frames, post paint

Once glued and dried, the back sides of the frames get a quick shot of black spray paint.

My dad acts as a hand model...er, cuts glass for a frame.

My dad acts as a hand model...er, cuts glass for a frame.

Glass is cut individually from panes we get from friends, neighbors, and anyone who wants us to take it off their hands. In two years, we haven’t had to buy glass. I love being able to recycle things to make art.

Painted frames are mated with backs and glass.

Painted frames are mated with backs and glass.

My mom hand paints each individual frame with a coat of black paint. Once dry, they get another coat. Backs are cut to size and then paired with frames and glass. The frames are now ready for me to insert my illustrations, which I have already printed and trimmed to size. I also add my signature to each Icon illustration.

My part of the process: Framing the illustrations and attaching the backs, plus adding the sawtooth hangers, and signing and labeling each finished piece.

My part of the process

Inserting the illustrations sounds like an easy task, and many times it is (oh how I love those times). But most often it’s a lot of back and forth, as I’m not satisfied until every speck of lint/dust/black flecks from paint or whatever else might try to squeak it’s way between the illustration and the glass. But once all is clear, the illustration goes in and I secure the back with glazer’s points and then attach a sawtooth hanger. Finally, a redshoes26 design label is placed on the back side, and the State Icon is complete!

I’d love to know what you think about this process. What goes into what you do? I love behind-the-scenes peeks—spill yours in the comments section!

Why am I an artist?

I’ve always been “artsy.” When I was a kid, my drawings—along with those of my twin sister—completely covered my parents’ refrigerator. When we were really little, my grandpa sent us home with an enormous roll of newsprint-like paper that we couldn’t even lift on our own. I think we went through all of it before we turned five. We did the whole coloring-book thing, like most kids, but mostly we went to town with markers and the newsprint, and any other blank paper we could find in the house (like the lovely computer paper seen below). Markers ran dry well before inspiration did.

Drawing by Christy, 3.5 yrs old

My all-time favorite drawing, done when I was 3 1/2. My mom often wrote down the details of the drawings, verbatim, from what I would tell her. Hilarious.

My sister and I cranked out so much art, and were we were pretty good for such little tykes. My dad’s coworker even bought several pieces from us when we were around 8-9 years old. We had lemonade-type stands at the end of our driveway in suburbia, where we’d sell our drawings. (Ha! My first art shows.)

Drawing of girl, by Christy, age 9

A typical "fashion-y" drawing I did when I was 9 years old.

My love for drawing continued I guess until I got interested in sports, and therefore became way too busy (or at least not interested enough to make time for it). In addition to taking a full load of classes in college, I also played softball and had a part-time job. I graduated with a degree in mass communications (with a photojournalism emphasis) and worked as a writer/editor for several years at a local regional magazine. After being at the magazine for about 2.5 years, it hit me—hard—one day that I needed a creative outlet again.

In about a week I was applying for art school, and three weeks after that my butt was in a seat in a classroom at The Art Institutes International Minnesota.

In my first drawing class, we were asked to draw a still life of an object of our choice. I stared at my blank sheet of paper for 30 minutes before my teacher goaded me into beginning. I was terrified. I didn’t know if I still had “it.” I was afraid to put the pencil to the paper.

But once I started…. You know the story.

Fast forward seven years, and I’m a full-time graphic designer. I worked for companies for 5.5 years, and now I’m on my own. I don’t draw by hand much anymore; mostly via design software. But I’ve gotten more into hand lettering lately, and I love that.

But no matter how I choose to draw these days, I’ve never been happier in my field, felt more fulfilled with my work, or been more creative.

That’s why I have been, and always will be, an artist.