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.
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.
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.
My dad made this glueing jig so four frames can be glued evenly at once.
Once glued and dried, the back sides of the frames get a quick shot of black spray paint.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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.