As Longview native Erin Jeffers creates inspired artwork on shoes, her goal is to help other single parents like herself by providing them with financial assistance.
Jeffers is the founder of LOW Soles, her freelance business in which she makes custom artwork on name brand sneakers for customers. Her plan is to use proceeds from LOW Soles to give back to single parents in need.
“I really just want to help everyone I can help. Hopefully he (her son, Liam) will catch on to the helping factor,” she said. “I want to teach him to be kind and give back, especially when we don’t need for things right now. I think it’s really important to give it to other people.”
Jeffers’ shoe artwork will be among new canvasses that will be displayed Thursday as local artists prepare for the return of Longview’s downtown ArtWalk. The event marks the first ArtWalk in more than a year.
“People are so excited to do so something that feels normal and familiar, and we’ve had an overwhelming response from our downtown businesses and from artists,” said Cynthia Hellen, executive director of Arts!Longview.
ArtWalk is planned from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday in downtown Longview. The quarterly event serves as the signature event for Arts!Longview, the organization that oversees the city’s Cultural Arts District.
Thursday’s event marks not only the first ArtWalk since December 2019, it also serves as one of the first community events to reschedule since COVID-19 restrictions have been eased. Hellen said most of the event will be outdoors and guests are encouraged to social distance and wear face masks while viewing art.
In the past year since the pandemic began, downtown Longview has had more than 10 new businesses open, and Hellen said all of them are on board to host artists for the first ArtWalk of 2021.
Those new businesses include Ollie’s Skate Shop, which will feature artwork on new types of canvasses. Ollie’s will play host to local artists Lakey Hinson, who is creating art on skateboards, and Jeffers.
Hinson, a local artist known for creating sidewalk art around Longview, was commissioned recently by Ollie’s to create art for the skate shop’s floor. Ollie’s co-owner Zahck Israel gave Hinson a skateboard to see what he would do with it. One skateboard turned into more as Hinson created patterns on the boards. Some of the skateboards feature geometric patterns, reminiscent of Hinson’s circular sidewalk art; other designs are more of what he describes as a “stream of consciousness.”
“I had a lot of fun creating them,” Hinson said.
Hinson also has taken his artistic talents to design T-shirts and hats. His work, including the skateboards, will be on display and for sale at Ollie’s Skate Shop during ArtWalk.
Jeffers, a 2009 graduate of Longview High School, will display work at Ollie’s from her business, LOW Soles. At LOW Soles, she asks a patron what type of shoes they want, buys the shoes as part of the fee she charges, and then designs the requested art on the shoes.
Recently, she displayed two pairs shoes; one pair had an anime drawing from the series “Black Clover” and another pair featured flowers.
“I love doing floral; that’s my thing,” Jeffers said. “Peonies are my favorite flower. But I can do everything from anime, movies, horror, flowers, whatever people want. They give me an idea, and I just go with it.”
Jeffers goal with LOW Soles, which is named after her son Liam Oliver Womble, is to raise money to provide financial assistance to single parents. A single mother herself, Jeffers said she knows “it can be tough sometimes for single parents to come up with the money for daycare and other things.”
In addition to taking custom requests for shoes, Jeffers also is offering a raffle through April 5 to win a pair of custom Vans with her artwork. She’ll do the raffle drawing on April 10. Raffle tickets cost $5 for one ticket, $12 for three tickets and $20 for five tickets.
Jeffers shoes will be on display at Ollie’s during ArtWalk and she’ll be taking custom orders.
In addition to Ollie’s, 47 other downtown Longview locations will be participating in ArtWalk. Businesses include downtown museums, Longview Museum of Fine Arts, Gregg County Historical Museum and Longview WOW. A complete list of participating businesses can be found online at www.artwalklongview.com .