Love is in the (cold) air

Come celebrate the season of love! The Artist Mercantile in St. Paul is throwing a pre-Valentine’s Day event in February. The Jewelry Trunk Show and Soirée takes place on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7–8.

trunk show at artist mercantile

On Friday from 11am–1pm, take in a lunchtime jewelry trunk show, and while you’re there enjoy samples of fabulous chocolate truffles. The mother-daughter team of DeDesigns Jewelry will show their vintage-inspired collection, which is made from materials such as gold filigree, silver, crystals, and rhinestones.

On Saturday from 7–9pm, you can again find the jewelry of DeDesigns and chocolate, plus you can sample some wine. The evening will also highlight my mixed-media shadowboxes, as well as the work of Sarah Wash, who works in acrylic, pencil, watercolor, and Mod Podge. Both my and Sarah’s collage work will be up at Artist Mercantile through March 8.

Spread the word and come share the love!


Friday, Feb. 7, 11am–1pm
Saturday, Feb. 8, 7–9pm
The mixed-media work of Christy Johnson and Sarah Wash will be on display through March 8.

Artist Mercantile
24 West Seventh Place
St. Paul, MN 55102
The Artist Mercantile offers a wide variety of Minnesota-made art and gifts that are perfect for any occasion.


Words, Music, and Art

If you’re looking for something fun and non-holiday-esque to do, consider checking out the current production at Park Square Theatre in St. Paul. Through Dec. 29, you can take in a show of Words by…Ira Gershwin. According to the Park Square Theatre, the show will introduce the audience to Ira Gershwin and explore “the creative process of song writing.”

Is It Time? - Mixed-media shadowbox by Christy Johnson

Is It Time? – Mixed-media shadowbox by Christy Johnson

While you’re there, check out my collection of music-themed work in the lobby. My mixed-media shadowboxes will be on display outside the theatre through Dec. 29.

Park Square Theatre
20 West Seventh Place
St. Paul, MN 55102

What didn’t fit : Christy Johnson

Several hundred people have joined my mailing list the past few years, and I realized they may not know much about me. To fix that, I thought I’d do a profile on myself. There have been lots of changes for redshoes26 this year alone, so even those who have been around since Day One might learn a few new things. So, without further ado, and in a weird third-person interview based off questions from my network, here’s a little info about me!

State Icons by redshoes26, and me!

State Icons by redshoes26, and me! (photo at right by Emma Freeman Photography for Hearten)

Hey CJ (ha)! Tell us about you.
I grew up in North St. Paul/Maplewood with my twin sister, Wendy, my mom and dad, Kathy and Jeff, and our two dogs, Mookie and Fluffy (both lived ’til age 18!). I graduated from St. Cloud State University in 2000 with a BS in Mass Communications with an Emphasis in Photojournalism. I had a Coaching minor. I wrote, designed, and shot photos for the Lillie Suburban Newspapers in North St. Paul for one and a half years, then took a job as an intern at MSP Communications, where in four years I worked my way up to the position of Associate Editor. I wrote and edited for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Viking Magazine, and many more, plus I wrote and edited copy for Twins Magazine, and was editor of the Official Scorecard of the Minnesota Twins. Upon leaving MSP after graduating with my Associate’s degree in Graphic Design from The Art Institutes International Minnesota in 2005, I continued to edit the scorecard for the Twins for three more years before the Twins took it in-house once Target Field was built.

After graduating from Ai, I worked as a Graphic Design Specialist for a short time at LifeSource in St. Paul, then took a job designing Exhibit Graphics at the Science Museum of Minnesota, where I spent nearly five years. I left there in 2011 to go solo full-time with redshoes26, which brings me to the present. On top of my work with redshoes26, I also continue to write freelance stories for MSP, and I have a couple part-time jobs, including my newest: Pilates Instructor at LifeTime Fitness in St. Louis Park. I also am the Art Director for MNfashion.

How do you juggle your busy schedule?
I’ve always been good at multi-tasking, and I’ve always been one of those people who needs to be doing 14 things at once. If any of you are familiar with the StrengthsFinder system, my #1 Strength is Achiever, which is someone who loves crossing things off to-do lists and getting shit done (pardon my French). That describes me to a T. I keep an old-school paper calendar that I take with me everywhere, and write down everything I need to do each day, and then cross each item off with glee as it’s finished.

Why art?
In addition to being anal retentive (see above answer), I’ve also always been “artsy.” I have drawn since I could hold a pencil. My sister and I used to draw and draw and draw, almost every day, and our refrigerator growing up was covered from top to bottom in our artwork. My dad’s friend even used to buy our drawings from us every once in a while. My main subject was fashion, as my first career aspiration (well, besides being a trapeze artist when I was really little) was being a fashion designer. I held onto that dream for many, many years. I still love fashion, and I love that I’m getting to blend two of my loves, design and fashion, by working for MNfashion.

What inspires you?
I’m really inspired by “talking shop” with my creative friends. We small-business owners really have to stick together, since we feed off each other for ideas and insight on each others’ businesses. I see my friends being successful, and I’m so proud of them and want to make them proud of me as well.

Do you have a favorite piece that you have created?
My favorite State Icon is one of the first ones I ever drew, the Grain Belt Sign. The real-life sign has always been one of my favorite landmarks in Minnesota since moving to Minneapolis, and I love how my simple drawing style captured the sign, and how colorful that one is.

What part of being a business owner do you enjoy the most? And the least?
I really enjoy making people smile at my art shows. It’s such an awesome feeling when you see someone walk up to your table and get a huge grin on their face when they see your work. I wish I could bottle that feeling!The thing I like the least is all the tax stuff I have to keep up with. It was never really a problem until I started doing shows in other states. Now I feel completely, 100% lost when it comes to when I need to file my sales tax with those states, etc. It’s overwhelming.
Who’s your most favorite person you’ve met at an art show?
I’ve met so many people at art shows since I’ve been doing them, and some favorites who stand out are Sarah Sweet from i like you (she was the first business owner to carry my work, and I met her at one of my first “real” shows); Karoline Wells from The Elixery; Jen Merchant from Jennifer Merchant Design (we did one of our worst shows ever together, but I found her, which was a score!); Mickie Clark from Rare Bird Studio; photographer Shelly Mosman; and Molly Waska, the former Minneapolis director of RAW: natural born artists.But by far my favorite, favorite, favorite is my best friend, Larissa Loden. I actually met her at a show *she* was doing, the Walker Jewelry Mart, a couple years ago, and gushed over her work. I then followed her to other shows and gushed some more, and realized I liked her as much as I liked her work. A few months later we were booth neighbors at a terrible show, but it was so worth it because we became BFFs.

What was your first sale when you started your business?
The first show I ever did was a little holiday open house at a friend of a friend’s place in Minneapolis. I only sold greeting cards back then, so it was a bunch of cards. I did really well at that show and was hooked!

If you could learn how to do something new, what would it be?
It would be so helpful to me to know more about web design and development. I’ve done quite a bit of training but the info doesn’t seem to stick.
Where do you get your inspiration for your shadowboxes?
I actually use my shadowboxes as therapy. All of them are based on feelings I was having at the time of the piece’s creation. They’re very raw to me, but I like that they’re obscure enough that they can mean different things to different people.What makes your art worthwhile/meaningful to you (or to others)?
See the above answer as far as what makes my shadowboxes meaningful to me, and hopefully to others. As for the State Icons, I like to celebrate the everyday, so it’s fun making a piece of art out of a building or bridge that people see every day. I love that they are meaningful to people for a variety of reasons: they got married there, they used to visit the landmark as a child with a relative, etc.

What is one thing you can’t live without?
Practically, I can’t live without my computer, since it’s basically my entire business!

Who is your favorite shoe designer?
I’m a sucker for most Manolo Blahnik or Jimmy Choo heels.

What’s your favorite pair of shoes from your collection?
I’m currently in love with a pair of black leather strappy heels I bought on vacation in Jacksonville last fall. They’ve got a dark brown wooden platform heel. Since the weather in Minnesota has been abysmal, I have yet to wear them this year, and that makes me sad.

Describe your favorite pair of shoes you’ve ever owned.
I found the perfect comfortable yet fashionable Simple red sandals on clearance for $30 many years ago. I wore the crap out of them and even had them fixed twice, so I *definitely* got my money’s worth. After a strap broke again, I decided they weren’t worth fixing, and that they’d had a great run, and I threw them away. It was a bittersweet moment!

And what’s with those “red shoes?” What’s behind your business name?
I think I best described in in this blog post a year or so ago.

What’s your “dream job” for wedding stationery design?
I’ve worked with some pretty fantastic people who have let me go, creatively speaking, so I can’t really say I have a “dream job” per se. I’ve been trying to get a couple to let me do a spot varnish on a stationery design for a couple years, though, so that would be fun. Someday….

Have you ever written something and a few years later learned that what you wrote about was not accurate/incorrect/outdated?
Not that I’m aware of!

How many icons do you currently have in your collection, and what are your plans for future ones?
I now have more than 100! My goal is to have at least one Icon from every state by the end of the year. A big task, but I know I can do it! I also have plans for some other Icon-related artwork and products. Stay tuned….

You get bombarded with requests for various Icons. How do you decide which ones are truly worth your time and yet are still fun for you to do?
I love getting suggestions for Icons from visitors to my booth at art shows. I can usually look at a photo of the suggested landmark and tell right away whether or not it would fit with my simple illustration style. If it does, and it’s something I think other people will connect with as well, then it’s usually a “go” in my book. Most are equally fun to draw, so I don’t put much consideration into that. I used to cringe when I had to draw lettering, but now I love when the icons I’m drawing have letters in them. I don’t know why that changed!

The best part of waking up is…?
Knowing I get to do what I love for a living! Truly—I’m not being corny.

You’ll know you’ve made it big when?
Ooh, good question. I guess when I have more people coming to me for my work than me seeking it out myself. I’m getting there! And I have a lot of you to thank for that. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, as well as my red shoes.

Want more? Sign up for my mailing list and get redshoes news in your inbox every month on the 26th.

This weekend : Snap.Crafted.Pop 2.0

OK, so yesterday I wrote about one show I have this Saturday (North by Midwest Craft Spectacular in Grand Forks, ND), but I forgot to include info on the other show I also have this weekend. From noon-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, find me at Snap.Crafted.Pop 2.0 at 4312 Upton Ave. S. in Minneapolis. The venue is an old hardware store, so it should be a cool environment for a show!

Aerial Lift Bridge – Minnesota Icon by redshoes26 design

What a whirlwind weekend. It’s going to be festive and fun. I hope to see you in Grand Forks or South Minneapolis this weekend!

Snap.Crafted.Pop 2.0
4312 Upton Avenue South
Minneapolis 55410

This weekend : Renegade Craft Fair – Austin Holiday Market

I’m excited to announce that this weekend, Nov. 24-25, I’m showing my work at Renegade Craft Fair at the Palmer Events Center in Austin, TX! My buddy Larissa Loden Jewelry will also be there.

The Alamo - Texas Icon by redshoes26 design

The Alamo – Texas Icon by redshoes26 design

I’m busy making a bunch of Texas Icons, and hope to finish some Texas Icons holiday ornaments as well. I’ll also have greeting cards, giclee prints, and paper jewelry for sale. So much to do, and so little time! Here’s some info about the fair, from the Renegade website:

It’ll be a handmade holiday in Austin at the Second Annual RCF Holiday Market on November 24-25 from 11am-6pm each day at the Palmer Events Center!

Look out for a cozy holiday craft village full of today’s brightest and best indie makers from the Lone Star State and beyond (Check them out here), as well as hands-on workshops, music, food, booze, and more! Skip the Black Friday crowds and take the whole family to support handmade artists, or even try your hand at making something. You’ll be able to cross everyone off your holiday shopping list, and find some of the most unique gifts in town.

I hope to see y’all there (I had to)!

This weekend : Art Attack

The art-show season is in full force! One of the biggies, Art Attack, is this weekend, and I’m lucky enough to have snagged a fantastic studio to exhibit in. The show is called “A Kiss with a Fist” and is at ART459 in the Northrup King Building.

Here’s info on the three-day event. I hope to see you there! I have several brand new mixed-media shadowboxes that I will be debuting at this show. I’m excited for you to see them.

a kiss with a fist, art attack, nov. 2-4, northrup king building

What didn’t fit : redshoes news annual gift guide

Some of my favorite local entrepreneurs share an object or an offer they think would make a fantastic gift for someone on your holiday list. In addition, they also give props to a local person or business they swoon over. Want a deal on the items you’re about to read about? Several of them offered discounts for readers of my monthly email, redshoes news. Want in? Then subscribe here! Just one email a month, always packed with fun updates, profiles, and news & event details.

But read on for some of my favorite local businesspeople and their cool gift ideas. And happy shopping!


angelbomb design + letterpress, the airship, todd thyberg

GREAT GIFT: The Airship, a digitally enhanced letterpress graphic novel
PRICE: Chapbook $150; deluxe hardbound, slip-cased edition $350
DETAILS: This limited edition graphic novel features modern tech fused with vintage letterpress tech. It’s great for techno geeks and letterpress aficionados.
FIND IT: and Minnesota Center for Book Arts
LOCAL CRUSH: Worker B lotions. They’re local and one of my clients, and the products are amazing.



GREAT GIFT: doggystyle, a luxury dog grooming bar
PRICE: $17 for 6 oz.; $5 for 1.5 oz.
DETAILS: It’s for your pooch. It’s great for their skin and fur, especially for dogs with skin allergies.
LOCAL CRUSH: The Elixery lipsticks. They are the first company to make a 100% natural lipstick that actually performs as well as non-natural lipstick.


dc ice

GREAT GIFT: Framed 5 x 7 original, illustrative, pet portrait paintings
PRICE: $200
DETAILS: Email me a picture of your animal friend, along with their personality traits, and I will immortalize them! You can be as specific as you want—request a color theme, mood, or even your pet’s name. If you would like to surprise yourself, I’ll gift-wrap your painting so you won’t be able to peek at it until later.
FIND IT: www.dcice.comAZ Gallery, and Gallery 360
LOCAL CRUSH: AZ Gallery will have a holiday shop in December. Purchasing handmade gifts here is a great way to support local artists!


jen shaffer, painted fish studio

GREAT GIFT: My new art book of Polaroid photographs, titled chairs : a polaroid collection
PRICE: $19.95
DETAILS: Many of the Polaroid photographs of chairs were taken in St. Paul, in addition to New York, California, Amsterdam, and more!
FIND IT: It comes out in November, so you can pre-order in my Etsy shop.
LOCAL CRUSH: Classic Retro @ Pete’s in St. Paul is my steady source of chair inspiration.


julie ann segal

GREAT GIFT: Interior design consultation gift certificates
PRICE: Prices range from $125 to $165 per hour, plus applicable taxes. Price depends on specific designer.
DETAILS: These are great gifts to give to someone who has just moved into a new home or who needs to remodel or refresh their space. Design consultations could include discussing ideas for a fresh new look, paint-color selection, furniture and/or accessory rearrangement, and where and how to hang art.
FIND IT:, call Julie Ann at 952-920-2827, or email


karoline wells, the elixery, dessa lipstick

GREAT GIFT: “Dessa” lipstick
PRICE: $18
DETAILS: This lipstick shade is universally flattering, and was custom designed for Dessa of Doomtree by Emmy Award winning makeup artist Crist Ballas. Dessa has chosen to donate her portion of the profits to CARE, a charity that educates and empowers women in developing countries.
LOCAL CRUSH: Accessories by Post-. Lois and Katie are both art historians, and a great deal of care and attention goes into their designs. Not only that, they’re really ethical business people, and their products are high-quality and produced locally.

louise harris, lhoriginals

GREAT GIFT: One-of-a-kind pieces made of recycled aluminum
PRICE: Prices start at $100
DETAILS: The art is created from recycled furnace filters, and all of the profits are donated.
FIND IT: www.lhoriginals.comThree Rooms, and Paper Hat
LOCAL CRUSH: Project SuccessCan Do CaninesMinnesota Justice Foundation…these are just a few of the non-profits that have received donations from my profits, because they do really fabulous things for the betterment of others.


megan moore, commemorate the date

GREAT GIFT: Commemorate the Date 2013 Wall Calendar
PRICE: $30
DETAILS: Features artwork from Commemorate the Date oil paintings. It includes the story behind each painting, and it doubles as a new piece of art to display each month.
LOCAL CRUSH: Mother Earth Gardens. They’ve been carrying my prints and note cards for two years, and are wonderful to work with. More than a garden shop, they have a great gift selection, too. The owner and employees are so nice and helpful.


christy johnson, redshoes26 design, state icons

GREAT GIFT: Set of three State Icon illustrations
PRICE: $70
DETAILS: Choose any three State Icons from my series—mix and match states and/or cities.
LOCAL CRUSH: Someday I will own a carving by David Ekdahl. His work looks simple at first glance, but when you spend some time with it, you begin noticing the incredible detail he’s put into each piece. I love the mood his carvings convey. Plus, David is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet!

Want more? Contact each entrepreneur for more information on their gift ideas.