A local artist has traded the canvas for the catwalk – after taking her first steps into the fashion Industry.
Contemporary British artist Audrie Saint-Ivy Johnson from Salford, has exhibited her artwork around the world.
But the isolation of the Covid pandemic led her to take a leap of faith and venture into the world of fashion, launching her own contemporary footwear brand.
Since then, Asti Art- Boots has enjoyed a grand entrance on to the fashion scene, culminating with their- and Audrie’s- runway debut at this year’s prestigious London Fashion Week.
She said: “I looked full of imposter syndrome; I had to walk down the catwalk; it was all quite sudden!Embed from Getty Images
“It was all a happy accident really, it was with a new fashion production company Lan of Fashion, I found an opportunity, they were looking for designers, so I approached them, they hand-pick the designers from the applicants, they liked my boots and I was selected.”
Audrie paints primarily with acrylics on canvas, specialising in figurative compositions and expressionism and has had work displayed in galleries in New York, Venice, Barcelona and Zurich.
However, her artistic career hasn’t all been plain sailing.
An artist for as long as she can remember, from childhood, Audrie immersed herself in drawing.
She said: “I’ve always loved art but I wasn’t allowed to go to the Highschool of Art because my parents felt it’s not a suitable career, it’s not likely to pay off, artists will starve!”
Audrie attended Central High, a girls school in Manchester, but kept her passion going by joining art associations like the Rouge Gallery and Manchester Student Artists Association.
When deciding on a degree programme, Audrie settled on Landscape Architecture, studying at the University of Gloucestershire.
She explained: “As somebody being beaten away from art, Landscape Architecture was as an option because I aced science so the idea was to marry science with art.
I worked on some interesting stuff, a beach park, housing estates, and the Chinese gate in Manchester.”
Early in her career, Audrie was a member of the committee involved in securing the £6 million funding from the European Union towards the initial building of Arthouse in Wakefield and deciding on the architects. She was also an associate member of Castlefield Art gallery.
In 2018, Audrie started ‘art on antiques’, painting antique furniture from junk shops and creating installation art by placing them in a cherry tree.
She said: “I do a lot of abstract expressionism – expressing yourself with colour and form, I put on music for inspiration and paint just showing my feelings at the time.”
It was this passion for creativity, and the isolation of the pandemic which led Audrie to embark on her latest endeavour, creating a new art focused footwear brand.
She explained: “It was a depressing time, I was afraid to go out, you think, god is it in the air? I needed something to occupy me, so being creative, I tried different things; creative writing- I sent a script out; I did some poetry- even wrote one about Boris Johnson; baked bread – a lot of bread, I’ll try anything bar singing!
“Then I thought maybe a fashion line, but there were already t-shirts and stuff, so I thought, footwear, so it’s come from being in lockdown – without a television I might add!
“It was my survival money as well because I wasn’t selling lots.”
After researching, Audrie started the company from scratch, registered the trademark and boots design and found a company to make a sample.
She said: “I thought I’d give them the artworks and they’d do something with them but they said no you have to design them! I used some of my abstract works; I’d done a whole series of paintings based on covid, one called C19.”
The unisex footwear, made from vegan leather, is available in UK sizes 3-7 in limited edition styles, Asti Art ‘Original colours’ and Asti Art ‘Pandemic’ in white or cream.
Audrie explained: “I’ve gone for the luxury market, I see these boots as art print, another way of displaying my artwork.”
Among the successes, Audrie has faced challenges including battling cyber space interference resulting in the loss of many of her google photos of her artwork.
Not to be deterred, Audrie has plans for expanding the company and recently signed up with the Growth Hub in Manchester.
“I’m looking at growing the business and possible sources of funding, I’ve joined their course to get training on aspects of business development.”
She also plans to create NFT’s using her digital art to offer to funders.
When asked her advice for young people interested in art she explained:
“There are many tools available now, making it easy to produce art, but it makes sense to take a course for a good foundation.
“It’s always good to visit art shows and galleries- be creative, have fun and experiment!”