Meet the 2018 Featured Art Artist

This year’s featured art is by Christopher Smith. Read our interview with Chris to learn more about the artist and work behind the 2018 featured art piece.

2018 Featured Art by Chris Smith

Tell us about yourself, your artistic background/career, where you are from, and where you live now.

I first studied Commercial Art at Austin Community College (ACC) from 1989-1991, there I had taken several drawing classes from the great Sam Yeates. I’m sure you know he was one of the Armadillo World Headquarter poster artists back in the 70s. Then 1992-1995 studied Visual Communications at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) and earned a BFA in Commercial Art. I’m so glad I studied at ACC first, because I perfected my illustrative drawing/technical hand skills there. SWT helped me strengthen conceptual ideas/design, so I could combine the two.

My first job out of college was working for the University of Dallas in Irving as a Graphic Designer for the University Relations Dept, a good 2 year stint. Afterwards 15 years of Graphic Design in Austin at Frog Design as an Interface Designer, 10 years working for Harcourt, a book publisher here in Austin creating cover designs for K-12 textbooks. Started creating my maps as a side business in 2007, was laid off in 2009, been creating my maps full time since then.

I had a fun childhood in Anderson Mill in NW Austin during the 1970s and 1980s. I went to Anderson Mill “Armadillos”, elementary school, Westwood HS, and Georgetown HS my Senior year. Have been living in Liberty Hill, Texas now for 3 years.

Map Art by Chris Smith

 

What was your favorite part to create in the featured art piece?

Creating the armadillo illustration, giving it an illustrative pen & ink look with the numbers 709 hidden.

Was there a challenging part to create?

The armadillo was the most challenging, trying to recreate an icon for the ‘Dillo that is “fresh” or has a new look from any previous ‘dillo designs.

Tell us about your history with the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

I did my first Armadillo Bazaar in 2010, when the Armadillo first moved locations to Palmer Events Center.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art.

In 2007 I sold my first print of my Republic of Texas map for $45 at a little Christmas show we had at Harcourt. Employees were able to set up and sell their goods at work for one day. I sold my first original map at Bayou City Arts Festival in 2008.

Map Art by Chris Smith

What are your favorite art supplies or tools?

I’ve been using Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph technical pens since my ACC days (over 27 years). Now I’m becoming more comfortable with acrylic paints with brush applications too, combining the two mediums more and more. Over the years I’ve been using more paint with brush and less technical pen.

If you were to work in any other medium, what would it be?

Definitely printmaking, I took one printmaking class at SWT and loved it, I could see experimenting with printmaking or combining it with the illustrative map idea. There are so many different types of printmaking, I just dabbled in it that one year.

How did you get started creating maps?

It started as an idea with several sketches back in 1998. Originally as a game board idea, like a “Texas Risk”. My first map was the Republic of Texas 1838 map; the other maps spawned from this.

Map Art by Chris Smith

Name your five favorite songs, albums, or musicians.

I love surf rock, garage rock, classic rock. Been listening to new Millennial bands such as Ty Segall, Mac Demarco, The Growlers, The Oh Sees, they are relatively new bands, but have the sound from the 60s-70s of course with a fresh perspective. Always been a huge Frank Black (Black Francis) fan, singer for the Pixies. He has a lot of solo albums after the Pixies. I’m always looking for new music for inspiration while creating artwork.

Is there any wisdom you would like to pass on to emerging artists?

I’m not good at giving advice, I never give it unless asked. Focus on one subject matter, and recreate it with a unique perspective. “​Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.​”​ Conan O’B​rien

Gifts for Him!

Charcoal Soap by Black Hatchet
“Keep clean – stay rough” with this charcoal soap designed by husband/wife team Erez & Mazzi Peled. Black Hatchet is a line of natural and organic products made with unique blends of 100% pure essential oils and enriched with organic activated charcoal in Austin, TX. Find these “manly” soaps in booth K-3. PS – this is a fave at the Armadillo office.

Artist Bruce Reinfeld
High Fidelity Gallery – New to the show! Limited edition fine art photography on skateboards! Or think big, and decorate your walls with his vibrant images. Bruce Reinfeld’s mission is to direct us to see the beauty in unusual things, like the Lone Star Bus, Bull’s horn’s, a rusting Cadillac, or the palm trees of Coconut Grove. Find his photography works in booth R-4.

Flasks & Leather Goods by Espacio Handmade
Espacio Handmade‘s leather bound, hand-stiched flasks are the perfect gift for the man who has everything. Leather wrapped & handcrafted with style, these handsome, classic flasks have an air of rebelliousness. Pair it with the Leather Journeyman Pocket Notebook, for the perfect gift set. Find these gifty goods in booth D-1.

Head to our Facebook page for the whole gift guide photo album, plenty more to see there!

Gifts for Music Lovers

Musical Aspen Glen by Gregory Arth
Gregory Arth tastefully couples apsens and sheet music in this piece titled “Musical Aspen Glen”. You can find most of his work as originals or giclee prints in booth I-4, near the Armadillo stage.

Drawing the Line by Artist Clifton Henri
Clifton Henri‘s piece “Drawing A Line” gets us right in the heart every time we see it. Clifton affectionately describes his work as Film Stills of an ever-evolving narrative, his work is themed in the spirit of nostalgia where personal experiences, insights and cultural stances are reflected. You can find his award-winning photography in booth A-4.

Salvaged Wood Art by Brian Phillips
Brian Phillips pays homage to George Jones in a big way! His paintings are made from salvaged wood, this one is painted on a door. Excellent recycling! His artwork is represented in all price ranges and can be found in booth T-1. Head over to our Facebook page for the whole gift guide!

Gifts That Are Fun!

Our third gift guide teaser of the year is titled “Gifts That Are Fun!”. You don’t have to look too far to find fun gift options at the Armadillo. We embrace art that is fun!

Big World Photo's Gluten Free
Lorri Honeycutt of Big World Photo takes all her photos with a Nikon digital camera using a macro lens. None of her photos have been digitally altered. It’s a non-stop smile fest in her booth (N-3) Even her photo titles will make you smile, this one is titled “Gluten Free”. Find one or two to keep you smiling year-round.

Devil Girl by Dave Borba
Dave Borba‘s “Devil Girl,” is a three-dimensional interactive folk-art piece that must be seen and interacted with to understand his genius. This artist is a world traveler and avid outdoors-man, as well as just good people. Delight someone in your life with one of his interactive works, which can be found in booth O-1.

Lump of Coal soap by Latika Body Essentials
Do you need a “Lump of Coal” soap for the naughty person on your list? Husband and wife duo, Mazzi and Erez Peled of Latika Body Essentials might be able to help you out. Check out their super cute line of fun soaps, along with their luxurious line of bath products made with natural ingredients right here in Austin, TX in Booth J-9.

For our full “Gifts That Are Fun!” gift guide head over to our Facebook page!

Gifts to Light Up Your Life

Our second gift guide teaser of the year is titled “Gifts to Light Up Your Life”, featuring lamps and lighting to shiny things from the artists of the 42nd annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar!

Art Lamp by Artifacts by Nomad
New artist to our show, Mick Whitcomb of Artifacts by Nomad builds conversion light fixtures made from 19th century machines and scientific instruments. Each piece has been personally re-discovered, re-worked, and re-imagined by the artist to add new function to a past generation of machines. Find his re-imagined works of antiquity in Booth A-3


Artist Daryl Howard is a master Japanese woodblock printmaker and mixed media collage artist. This piece is titled “Where I wade into light”, the woodblock print making technique is part of her soul; it’s quite evident. Stroll through her museum-like booth (U-5) and revel in her world.

Luna Tigre Wood Wick Candles
Luna Tigre is new to the show this year. Jill Patton and husband Dan are the driving force behind these 100% soy candles hand-poured in Austin, TX in small batches. They’ll showcase their permanent fragrances and a nice range of seasonal scents, ranging from Bluebonnet to Tomato to their popular wood wick candle, Bourbon & Tobacco. Find the perfect gift for your candle loving family and friends in booth R-3

Find the rest of our “Gifts to Light Up Your Life” gift guide on our FB page.

Gifts that Inspire!

Welcome to our first gift guide teaser of the year! This collection is titled “Gifts that Inspire”, for those who want art as a reminder of the beauty all around them. Come back for daily gift ideas featuring the artists of the 42nd annual Armadillo Christmas Bazaar!

"Lifeboat" by artist Michael O'Brien
Michael O’Brien is new to the show this year. This piece titled “Lifeboat” is made of cast bronze, steel, and wood. His pieces invoke an awe with the natural world. Truly inspirational, gracefully refined in form and movement. Find his work in Booth O-8.

"Light (for C)" by artist Brianna Martray
Brianna Martray Fine Art is returning to our show after a two year break. Brianna created this significant piece, “Light (for C)”, as part of her “Light” series of hand built resin clay and paper on a steel base. Stop by her booth to explore her organic and surreal works. She shares her booth (F-3) with collaborator and metal artist Matthew Naftzger.

Greg Davis National Geographic Photograper
Try to spend some time talking to this National Geographic Creative Photographer, Greg Davis. His photos and the journeys he’s chosen are truly inspirational. Piece: “Circle of Gratitude” Kenya. Find Greg Davis Photography in booth J-2.

Head to our Facebook page to enjoy our whole Gifts that Inspire gift guide.

Party at the Moontower Lounge Wonderland

Who doesn’t love a good holiday cocktail party? It’s the perfect excuse to don your best outfit. For any of you with parties on the agenda between now and the 25th,  we’re sharing a few ideas to step up the game for your holiday party.

Whether it’s a corporate affair or an intimate gathering of friends, Party at the Moontower puts together holiday lounge looks that bring an extra bit of pizazz to your party. Let your guests relax and mingle while sipping spiked eggnog!

Recreating a winter wonderland? This lounge set up was inspired by that feeling of fresh snow falling (though maybe not here in Texas!) But imagine being all bundled up, with string lights across the ceiling twinkling above your guests.
Winter Holiday Lounge
The concept of this party is a setup that’s refined without being rigid, sweet without being saccharine, cheerful, abundant, still festive!

This lounge is all about the golden details. Gold-rimmed coffee tables and accents make for a fancier soiree. The added faux fur will make it feel warm and cozy as you serve up hot toddies!
Golden Holiday Lounge
Another December, another company holiday party… and what’s a party without an open bar? If you’re treating your team to free beverages, you’ll need a festive bar to decorate with red berries and greenery. Add in cocktail tables for mingling and set them throughout your venue.
Holiday settings
We’re excited to be working with Party at the Moontower for our Green Room this year, they sure know how to set a festive mood. Let them elevate your holiday parties this year, you’ll be the toast of the town!

Meet the 2017 Featured Art Artist

This year’s featured art is by Robert Hurst. Read our interview below with Hurst to learn more about the work behind the featured art piece and his art career.

Tell us about yourself, your artistic background/career, where you are from and where you live now.

I’ve always been drawn to creating art and drew pictures constantly in my childhood. I would look at small photos of my classmates and render them larger to better know what my friends looked like, as I had awful eyesight. Finally at the age of 10 or so I got glasses, but still kept drawing. I lived in South Houston for my first 10 years then my family moved to the Spring, Texas area where I remained until moving to Austin in my 20’s. I visited Austin many times throughout high school and was definitely drawn to the city. I finally moved to ATX in 1985 with $50.00 and two boxes of clothes.

Throughout my life, most — but not all — of my jobs had some connection with art; picture framer, graphic designer, architectural illustrator, part time art show exhibitor, etc. My first job in Austin was at Ultra Art, a frame shop just purchased by the illustrious Dalhart Windberg. There I framed Mr. Windberg’s originals and prints. After 3 years of some much needed tutelage, I moved on to GoGo Studios where I worked for the most awesome Bill Narum doing album covers and music posters for Antone’s, Threadgill’s, and various band and events. I went from a fairly regimented work place to a fairly gonzo one. Both men (Windberg and Narum) are / were brilliant and I owe so much to them.

Throughout most of my life I’ve been active in sports (martial arts, motocross, football, baseball, rugby, volleyball), so I painted what I knew. In 1990 Earl Campbell commissioned me to do several pieces for him. Then I began doing sports memorabilia shows and found my niche. And, as they say, “The rest is history”.

What was your creative process for the featured art piece?

While meeting with the Armadillo team several ideas popped in my head immediately, and most were scuttled just as quickly. When I’m excited about a painting / project my mind often works this way, fast and furious. One image kept creeping in, however. An armadillo casually walking away from the viewer on a keyboard. From there I researched, then went to canvas with paints, as I do not sketch in advance.

What was your favorite part to put together?

This piece had a lot of the elements that I enjoy incorporating in my art: color, movement, composition, unusual angles, and creating an entirely new image.

Was there a challenging part of creating the featured art piece?

I often have a “finished” composition in my head before I start. Then it’s time to find reference material. That takes as much time as creating the painting.

Is there a 709 hidden in the piece?

There is a “709” in the headstock of the guitar.

Tell us about your history with the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

I’m not sure of the exact year I began showing at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. It was soon after it was moved from the Opera House to the Austin Music Hall. Mid ’90’s, I think. Chip and Debra Dupont lobbied for my acceptance. Bruce took a chance on a “sports artist” and we both think it was well worth it. My first year at the ‘Dillo was quite the learning experience. Although I had been to the ‘Dillo many times as a patron before my first year as an artist I had no idea the professionalism, stamina, dedication, and commitment the show requires. Bruce and many other artists offered suggestions that helped me become a better presenter of my art and helped ease the transition from a wanna be Armadillo artist to one in fact. What I learned subsequently affected every other show I did (do) in a positive way. Over the years, my work has expanded from almost exclusively sports themed to music, critters, and Austin-Texana. Much of my sports and music art is autographed by the subject. This is the biggest show I do and has been for 15 years. It was an honor to be invited and to now be part of the family.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art.

The first “dollar” I made was 50 cents for a colored pencil drawing of a deer jumping over a log in second grade to a classmate’s father.

What are your favorite art supplies or tools?

I’m almost exclusively an acrylic on canvas artist, although I am versed in watercolor, oil, pastel, inks, marker, and some clay sculpting.

If you could work in any other medium, what would it be?

I’m interested in doing more sculpture, painting more plein air, and travel subjects.

Tell us about being a sports artist.

I kinda got into sports art (primarily painting subjects related to sports) by accident. I always included one or two sports paintings in my early art shows, but never considered IT as my niche. After the Earl Campbell commissions my focus changed to sports. I began doing sports memorabilia shows. That introduced my work to many of the greats (past and current) in the sports world at the time; Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Muhammad Ali, Earl Campbell, Bob Lilly and more. In 1994 I was invited to be one of the artists in the new Ballpark in Arlington Sports Art Gallery. It was the first exclusively sports art gallery within a ballpark. Soon I was in Minute Maid Park, Pittsburgh Pirates, Baltimore Orioles, and a sports art gallery in Atlanta. At one time I was in more sports art galleries than any other artist in the country, albeit briefly. I became the artist for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, the artist for the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006, and artist for the Texas Heritage Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. What I do is paint each of the inductees. Prints are then made, signed by the inductees, and offered for sale. This is a fundraiser for the museums. I also did work for the College Football Hall of Fame for a few years, and from 2001 – 2009 created the artwork for Rodeo Austin (AKA Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo).

The inductee paintings are usually a single image. My favorite sports pieces to create are complex multi-image compilations celebrating a championship, a city’s history, an individual’s history, etc.

What are your five favorite songs, albums, or musicians?

Hmmmm, that’s a toughie. Nothing gets my air drumming “skills” hopping more than Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying”. Best concerts were Pink Floyd’s “Animals” tour and Bruce Springsteen circa 1975. I love live jazz, the purity of voice of Eva Cassidy, ELO, U2, B-52s, The Offspring, AC/DC, ABBA, and Linkin Park are great traveling music. Kate Bush is way up there, too!

Is there any wisdom you would like to pass on to emerging artists?

Always be lernin’.

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Far Out Fittings styles it up!

Artists Lounge
We’re loving the way Far Out Fittings styled our artists lounge. It’s been a cozy place for our bands and artists to chill out for a bit. If you’re in need of cool furniture for your place, definitely check out Far Out Home Fittings, located in the heart of South Austin. Their inventory is updated daily, they have negotiable pricing, and cheap delivery. They also currently have holiday season sales and can help you find that perfect inspired gift that will tickle your loved one’s memories and leave them with a Christmas to remember. Want a peek before you head down there? Their website has a Current Inventory page that is updated regularly!

far out sofa

Not sleeping so great? Far Out Fittings also has a sister company called Lunar Mattress. It’s actually located at the same place as Far Out, kind of a two-for one shopping experience! Let Lunar Mattress solve your sleeping problems with their bed offerings of innerspring, latex foam, and memory foam mattresses along with a variety of accessories. Start your new year off in a new comfy bed.

Far Out Fittings Bed

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