Show me the art

It’s Minnesota Icon Madness at redshoes26 design headquarters! In the past three weeks I had *six* custom Icon orders, two inquiries about possible custom Icons, and a sale to one buyer…for 16 Icons (and she already wants eight more). So fun! On top of that, I’ve restocked my inventory of Icons at several of the local shops that carry them.

Cossetta Italian Market - Minnesota Icon by redshoes26 design

Cossetta Italian Market – Minnesota Icon by redshoes26 design

One of the best things about being an artist is seeing the excitement on people’s faces when they see—and love—my work for the first time. The woman who ordered 16 Icons was so thrilled you’d have thought I’d just handed her a winning lottery ticket. It was such an incredible feeling to witness her reaction, especially when she said she has been “obsessed” with them for months, after finding them in my Etsy shop. She said her friends are tired of her talking constantly about them. Ha!

She’s going to hang them all together in the kitchen of the house she just moved into. I asked for a photo when they’re up, and she said she’d be happy to send me one.

It’s something I’ve thought of before, so I’ll toss it to all of you as well: Will you send me photos of my art in use? Have you bought an Icon from me, or a mixed-media shadowbox, or even a greeting card? If so, is it hanging on your wall, sitting on your shelf, or even tacked up to your bulletin board (in the case of the card)? If so, I’d love to see a quick snap of it!

Or, have I designed wedding stationery for you? Has it been professionally captured by your photographer at your wedding or reception? I’d love love love to see the shots.

It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy to see my work in use. Just as happy as it made you to see it for the first time, I hope!

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Paying for an experience

I often hear people say that live music is too expensive; that it’s not worth the ticket costs. I do agree that concert tickets are pricey, but the costs really haven’t changed for many years. I paid about the same amount for tickets when I was in college as I’m paying today.

One thing that has changed, though, is (stupid) ticket fees that get tacked on to each sale, plus tax, of course. But some smaller venues are ditching the big ticket sellers, and that has helped a lot, since the venue’s ticket fees are a lot lower.

As a small-business owner and entrepreneur, I especially have to watch what I spend my money on. I have to pay rent each month, after all. But I still do my best to see as much live music as I can when my favorite artists roll into town. Living in Minneapolis, we’re pretty spoiled with the amount of killer shows that take place here. So, yes, I go to quite a few shows each year. I actually work music-show costs into my monthly budget.

One such killer show took place last Tuesday night. Surprisingly, it was at the Target Center, which is unusual for me, since I don’t go to many “arena shows” anymore. But my favorite band, The Black Keys, have sort of graduated from the smaller venues and their recent tour brought them to the Target Center, right across the street from First Avenue, where I saw them in 2010 (one of my favorite shows of all time).

The Black Keys on 05.15.12 at Target Center (photo by Jeremy Nelson)

The Black Keys on 05.15.12 at Target Center (photo by Jeremy Nelson)

I found myself about 25 yards from the stage, squished amongst 11,000 other concert-goers (no, not all of them were on the floor with me, but it seemed like it). And once the music started, I went somewhere else. The Keys just do that to me. Their music sends me to a different planet. There were many times during the show that I found myself looking up into the rafters, and as my physical body was moving to the music I felt like my mind—or my soul?—was somewhere else, floating above the crowd.

It’s happened many, many times before, and it’s such an amazing feeling. The word “amazing” is massively overused these days, but I mean it truly—it’s an amazing feeling.

The day after the show, I was driving and listening to the Keys on a CD in my car. I found myself literally dancing in my seat to the songs, especially the ones that were played live the night before. I also found myself visualizing the show, and the band playing those songs—what it looked, sounded, and felt like the night before.

To me, that experience is what we’re paying for when we plunk down our hard-earned money for live music. No, a live music show is not a tangible object like a painting or a piece of handmade jewelry is. But when we pay for a ticket to a show, we’re not only paying to see a musical act perform, we’re also paying for an experience. And so many times it’s one that not only sticks with us for days after the actual event, but for a lifetime.

What are your thoughts about seeing live music? What band or artist have you seen that you still remember vividly today?


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!


What’s in a name?

“Do you design shoes?”

I hear it all the time. Just heard it again today at the bank, in fact. And I understand! My business name is…er…different. I like to think that someday it’ll easily roll off people’s tongues, since it will be so well known. Right now, it seems most at least remember “redshoes.” I’ll take it.

I do see my business written out incorrectly a lot, which is a little more irritating. But I don’t let it bother me too much because I realize it is a high-maintenance name. (Unless it was fact-checked by the writer and STILL appears in print incorrectly…grr. This has happened.)

redshoes26 design logo

So, what’s the story behind redshoes26, you ask?

Back in my days at St. Cloud State University, I played on the Husky softball team. My freshman year, we had me (Christy), another Chris, a Krista, and a Kristin all trying out for the team. It was insanity for the coaches, who were trying to keep us organized during drills, etc. Because of that, my catcher, Alison, began calling me “Christy Redshoes,” due to the red cleats I came in wearing from my high school days.

After a couple weeks, Chris, Krista, and Kristen all left the team or were cut. I remained, and so did my nickname. When it was time for the new players to order our big-kid metal spikes, I was going to try and blend in with the other nine freshmen and others on my team and wear, for the first time in my life, black cleats. But the upperclassmen would not have it–they insisted I order red ones.

The name had stuck, and I proudly wore red cleats all four years at SCSU.

As the years went on, the younger girls coming in would often not even know my “real name” until our media guides came out in March, and we had all been playing together since early September! I even had professors call me Redshoes, and my parents were known to my coaches and teammates as Mr. and Mrs. Shoes.

Nicknames for my nickname also became abundant: Shoes, Red, Red Dawg, Feet, Toes. I had some creative teammates. Shoes was the one that really stuck. I still have former teammates and other softball friends who call me Shoes, 13 years later. I love it.

Husky Softball team 1998 - North Central champs, yo!

Husky Softball team 1998 – North Central champs, yo!

After being enrolled in design school in 2003, I knew that if I ever started my own company the name would involve redshoes. The 26 came in because I’ve been obsessed with that number since my sophomore year of high school. I got pulled up to the varsity softball team that year, and 26 was the only varsity jersey still available.

I had the best season I’ve had to date as a softball player, batting over .400 and establishing myself as a key member of the varsity team. I was hooked–as many superstitious softball/baseball players would be. Now I can’t imagine playing without the number 26 on my back. I was lucky enough to get it as a freshman at SCSU, and I still wear it in my women’s fastpitch league every summer.

So I added the 26 to “redshoes” when I incorporated in 2005 as a way to make my business name less girly, and more memorable. I liked the way it sounded. It’s a long name when you say it out loud, but I don’t mind. It’s quirky and different, and it fits me to a T.

That’s the story.

And now I want to know yours! What’s behind your business’ name? If you don’t currently own a business, what would you name your dream company? What business names make you smile…or cringe?


Help me celebrate my 1-year anniversary!

One year ago today I set out on this full-time freelance adventure with redshoes26 design! I would like to celebrate and thank you for your support by giving away one of my Minnesota Icon illustrations. All you have to do is “like” my page on Facebook (if you haven’t already), and write a comment about which Icon you love the most and why.

If you don’t have a Facebook page, you can write your comment right here on my blog!

See my Etsy page for a full list of my Minnesota Icons.

Minneapolis City Hall - Minnesota Icon by redshoes26 design

Minneapolis City Hall - Minnesota Icon by redshoes26 design

I’ll enter your names into a drawing and randomly choose one on Friday–the winner’s Icon will then be popped in the mail (shipping will be free).

Thanks, everyone!


Do you send holiday cards?

I usually create a new holiday card every year, and this year was no different. However, they don’t sell that well anymore. Not that they ever did sell like gangbusters.

Holiday Card with trees

Holiday Card with trees by redshoes26 design

I want to continue coming up with ideas for holiday cards every year, but it seems they don’t sell well at my art shows. And only one of my stores (out of six) chose to carry them this year. In the past, three stores have carried them.

So I’m wondering: Is it worth my time to create holiday cards? I sell a few packs each year, and a few gift tags, too (I make those, too…but haven’t made new designs for about two years).

Do you make holiday cards? Do they sell well for you?

Do you send holiday cards? If so, what kind? I feel like most people send those photo cards now. Is that why my holiday card sales are down? Or do people in general just not send them anymore? I get a few from friends and family each year, which makes me think people DO still send them. But yes, the majority are the photo cards. I don’t want to get into designing the photo cards.

Let’s discuss….


I’ll trade ya!

I’m a huge baseball fan, and I *hate* it when one of my favorite players is traded to another team. But when it comes to trading artwork or design services, I’m almost never sad to see a favorite piece go, or to toil away in order to match what someone has given/done for me.

Yep, trading is pretty big in the art world. And I love it.

I’ve done quite a few trades over the years. I created an identity system for Knotty & Nice, whose owner, in turn, sewed me a quilt using tons of my old college-softball t-shirts. I traded one of my shadowbox collages for a killer necklace from Horseshoes & Chandeliers. And I recently had some head shots taken by Shelly Mosman of Shelly Mosman Photography in exchange for an illustration that she hopes to use in her upcoming identity-system refresh.

My head shot, courtesty of Shelly Mosman Photography

My head shot, by Shelly Mosman Photography

It seems to me that graphic designers and fine artists get approached often to take part in trades. Some artists are very willing, while others abhor making trades. I’m on the “very willing” side. I figure, I’m in a service industry and I also make art, which isn’t for me, anyway–it’s for whoever has a connection with it (quit gagging…it’s true). So I think it’s neat that I can get cool physical things or have cool things done for me, in exchange for doing something that I love to do anyway. It’s win-win, in my book.

Are you the trading type? If yes, what have you traded for? If no, why not?

And no matter if you’re on the trading bandwagon or not, if you could make a dream trade with anyone, who would it be with, and what would it be for? What would you offer them? (Keep it clean, people!)