100 Creatives 2012: Lauren Luna, Painter and Shoe Designer

Courtesy Lauren Luna
From the Se7en Deadly Sins collection.
Lauren Luna is a classically trained painter who moved to Houston a year ago to pursue her second artistic career as a shoe designer. Though she's lived in many different U.S. cities, from San Francisco to New York, she decided to move to Houston because of its welcoming and diverse art scene. She has a master's degree in Fine Arts Painting from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco as well as a master's degree in special education. Though her canvas paintings often focus on things such as race and class issues, her shoes are whimsical, colorful and sometimes pay homage to pop artists of the past.

What She Does: "The easiest way to put that is that I am a shoe designer and a painter," she says. While Luna was already in the process of making a name with her paintings, she got into the shoe business somewhat by accident. She wanted a cool pair of custom sneakers, and a friend suggested she just paint a pair herself. That first pair, a set of Converse, were too small, so she sold them on Craigslist, but soon an obsession had begun.

Courtesy Lauren Luna
"In Columbus, Ohio, I had an art show for my paintings, and a state senator showed up," she says. Luna had gone to school with the man's son, so the two started talking. "His son had started a hip-hop and politics magazine and I decided to run an ad." Luna thought to herself that people were more likely to spend $500 on a great pair of shoes than on a painting, so that's what the ad focused on.

That's not to say that her paintings don't draw their fair share of adulation. "I have a bit of a name for the paintings," she jokes. "But no celebrity endorsements."

Most recently, RaMona Rizzo of VH1's Mob Wives tweeted a photo of herself in a pair of Luna's colorblock stilettos.

Courtesy Lauren Luna
Why She Likes It: "I've always been a shoe whore," she says. "I like fashion and art and the convergence of the two." Luna, who refers to herself as plus-sized, also sees shoes as an accessible way for women of all sizes to play with fashion trends.

"I stay up-to-date with the latest colors and trends, but it's also my own eclectic tastes." She's designed shoes inspired by the paintings of Keith Haring and Van Gogh (the Starry Night shoes above retail for $300), and has a whole line based on the Seven Deadly Sins.

If Not This, What? Though Luna currently teaches bilingual education, she says she will always work in art. "I like to say I was inside my mom, doing cave paintings before I was born. I've been in art classes since I was five. My parents are interracial and my dad is a DJ, so I was never told, 'You can't do that.'"

If Not Here, Where? Luna only moved to Houston about a year ago. "I used to say 'New York' because of the diversity, but now that I've seen I can get that here, I really love Houston."

What's Next? Her shoes are being sold in a few boutiques in her hometown of Columbus, and she's looking for stores in Houston as well. In the meantime, she's selling on her Etsy store, LaurenLunaLtd.

More Creatives for 2012
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Sarah Cortez, writer

Kent Dorn, drawer, painter, artist
Lillian Warren, painter
Carl Lindahl, folklorist, UH professor
Sutapa Ghosh, film producer and Indian Film Festival of Houston organizer
Tom Stell, actor, writer, director
Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder

Oliver Halkowich, dancer and performer
Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher

Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director
Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician

Matthew Detrick, classical musician
Travis Ammons, filmmaker
Florence Garvey, actress
Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker

Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder

Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist
Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist
JoDee Engle, dancer
David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher
Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor
Jessica Janes, actress and musician
Dennis Draper, actor and director

Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter
Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist

Adriana Soto, jewelry designer
Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist
Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof
Patrick Turk, visual artist
Elizabeth Keel, playwright
Bob Martin, designer
Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer
Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer
Jeremy Wells, painter
George Brock, theater teacher
Radu Runcanu, painter
Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media
Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker
Philip Hayes, actor

Patrick Palmer, painter
Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer
John Tyson, actor
Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker
Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer
Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music
Laura Burlton, photographer
David Peck, fashion designer
Rebecca Udden, theater director
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer
Paul Fredric, author
John Sparagana, photographer
Damon Smith, musician and visual artist
Geoff Winningham, photographer

Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist
Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor

Katya Horner, photographer
Johnathan Felton, artist
Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer

Carol Simmons, hair stylist
Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet
Greg Carter, director
Kenn McLaughlin, theater director
Justin Whitney, musician
Antone Pham, tattoo artist
Susie Silbert, crafts

Lauralee Capelo, hair designer
Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer
Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer
Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director
J.J. Johnston, theater director
Mary Margaret Hansen, artist
Richard Tallent, photographer
Viswa Subbaraman, opera director
Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist
Sonja Roesch, gallery owner
Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor
Sandy Ewen, musician
Camella Clements, puppeteer

Wade Wilson, gallery owner

Magid Salmi, photographer
Carl Williams, playwright

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@LaurenLunaLtd great stuff..always appreciate other designers

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