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Daily Inspiration: Meet Christy Johnson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Christy Johnson.

Hi Christy, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was an artsy kid while growing up in North St. Paul, Minnesota. Instead of lemonade stands, my twin sister and I would have “art stands,” where we’d sell our Magic Marker drawings. We actually sold a few!

When it was time to go to college, I chose St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota, because they had an accredited Mass Communications program, and I was also recruited for the softball team. After four years of studying and playing softball, I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications, with a Photojournalism emphasis.

I worked for a few years as a photographer, writer, and editor; most notably at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. I liked my job but wasn’t passionate about it, so I enrolled in The Art Institutes International Minnesota. From there I earned an Associate Degree in Graphic Design. I was then hired to design exhibit graphics at the Science Museum of Minnesota, where I stayed for five years before taking the leap into the full-time freelance life. I designed branding for small businesses, as well as wedding and event stationery, but found what I really enjoyed was creating digital illustrations based off of a style I’d developed while at the museum. I started making mini drawings of U.S. landmarks, and selling them at art fairs. My parents got into the mix a couple years in, and began making the small black frames for me. They still do to this day.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s not easy being a small business owner, which is no surprise to most people. It’s been a grind and for a couple years I started thinking that I should be doing something else. I just never decided what that would, could, or should be. I didn’t want to work for anyone else after being an entrepreneur for so long! Then after the last two years of COVID and reassessing my life, basically, I rediscovered my love for the work I’m doing with United Goods. I have a new spark and am once again excited about my brand. I feel reignited.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I specialize in making State Icons, which are digital illustrations of U.S. landmarks that come in handmade frames. I draw each one, with a mouse, at the little size at which they’re displayed, and print the giclées in my studio. I finish them in frames that are handmade in small batches by my parents. My dad retired a few years ago from a career as an electrical engineer and dove into his passion for woodworking. As part of that, he makes my beveled-edge wood frames. Somehow he got my not-an-artist mom to hand-paint them!

A lot of makers, especially in the past 10 or so years, focus on state-based art. But I think my work stands out from the others because of my simple illustration style, the small size of my prints, and the fact that they come—ready-to-display—in the handmade frames.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
I love doing collaborations, and have a couple times over the years. One example: I had a line of State Icon Candles that featured my illustrations and were hand-poured by a local candlemaker. I’d love to do more collaborations in 2022, so if someone reading this wants to create something together (or knows someone who does), reach out!

To support me, people can follow me on social media—I’m most active on Instagram (@unitedgoodsusa)—or sign up for my mailing list. There’s a link to do so on my website. I send one email a week, and offer my subscribers exclusive deals and news. They’re also the first to hear about events I’m taking part in and the latest State Icons I’ve added to my collection.

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