By Debbie Adams
The Vinton Area Chamber of Commerce has a suggestion for those looking for a perfect gift this holiday season, especially for someone who loves Vinton– custom-drawn Vinton Landmark prints and tote bags. The Vinton Landmark art is created by local artist Brook Ludy.
The vibrantly colored prints and bags feature Gish’s Mill, Roland E. Cook, William Byrd Middle and High Schools, the Vinton War Memorial, the High Ground Veterans Monument, the LOVE sign, the InVinton sign, the Vinton History Museum, the Town Clock, the Welcome to Vinton sign, a Dogwood tree, an “Eat, Shop, Play, Live In Vinton” banner, the Vinton Library, Thrasher Memorial UMC, Lynn Haven Baptist, and Vinton Baptist, all under the Roanoke Star.
Ludy is a 19-year-old who graduated from Cave Spring High School and the Burton Center for Arts and Technology in 2018.
She attended BCAT for four years and notes, “It was by far the best part of my high school experience and I am so thankful for everything they did for me, especially my teacher senior year, Natalie Strum, who helped me tremendously with work for my business. I hope that someday if I ever become wealthy through my art, that I can give money back to their art program.”
She also participated in Roanoke County’s gifted art program throughout elementary and middle school.
She is currently attending Virginia Western Community College working on her associate degree in fine arts with plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University to further her art career.
“Funny story, I went to VCU for a semester, did very well academically, but I was not ready to live on my own in Richmond,” said Ludy. “So, I came back to Virginia Western and after a year of personal growth, I changed my mind again and I am going back to VCU where I plan on double majoring in kinetic imaging and communication arts.”
Ludy says she has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember. In her freshman year of high school, she began to sell her work.
“When I was 14, I drew a picture of downtown Roanoke and started selling prints of it to my teachers and friends,” Ludy said. It became so popular that she drew one of Salem.
“Throughout high school, I’ve continued to create new pieces of art that feature all of the different places around where I grew up. Everyone told me to do Vinton, so I did it to add on to the collection.”
Recently she illustrated a children’s Christmas book, “A Star City Christmas” written by Roanoke author M.R. Hooley, which is now available.
“I am currently illustrating another one of Hooley’s books which will be out soon!” said Ludy.
“Mike Hooley found me and bought my print of Grandin at a show I sold at in 2018,” she said. “He was doing a local Roanoke book and really liked my colorful style. He is a great guy and I’m very lucky to work with him. He writes the story, sends me the story, and I have to draw the story. He gives me a lot of creative freedom.”
M.R. Hooley is a retired US Navy veteran, award-winning artist and woodcarver, and author of several rhyming children’s picture books.
“My wife and I met Brook at a show downtown where she was selling her artwork,” said Hooley. “At that time, she was still in high school and I was impressed with her creativity. We bought one of her prints and took it home. The following year, I had come up with the idea of doing a local book, but my regular illustrator lives overseas and had no familiarity with Roanoke. We ran into Brook and her parents at another show and things went from there.
“In addition to her creativity and unique style, my wife and I were impressed with the support she received from her parents, who were both helpful in completing and promoting our first book with Brook,” Hooley said.
“It has been a pleasure working with her and her parents, and I look forward to continuing doing local and regional books with her in the future,” he said.
Copies of the book are available at several vendors in the Roanoke area: at Chocolatepaper, Two and a Half Sisters, Upcycled Gifts (at Towers), Book No Further (at 16 West) and the Children’s Museum of Roanoke.
Ludy primarily uses colored pencils for the buildings in her drawings, but all of the skies in her work are done with watercolor.
She orders the distinctive bags through a website by simply putting a scanned picture of her artwork online and adjusting it.
“The mugs I make myself with a sublimation machine that my family invested in,” said Ludy. “We also print the notecards ourselves as well as all of my prints with our high-quality Epson artisan printer done from home.”
Ludy’s father works in graphic design, but she is the only artist in the family.
As for how she chose the specific Vinton landmarks for her painting, “For the first Vinton picture, I asked one of my old friend’s moms who went to William Byrd about the prominent landmarks. But mainly I just used Google.” She was attending VCU when she did the Vinton painting.
Ludy sells her work at Buy the Season on Apperson Drive in Salem and at Explore Park. She also sells her work at craft and vendor fairs. She set up a booth at this year’s Vinton Fall Festival and Oktoberfest where she gained quite a following with her Vinton pieces.
“I spend a lot of time at the craft and vendor fairs,” she says. “Old Salem Days and Festival in the Park are yearly shows I do that are by far the biggest, but I do every show that I can. Sometimes even two at a time. My parents help me out an awful lot, and I’m very thankful for them.”
Art is a daily job for Ludy; she says “it’s not easy. I do multiple commissions and am at the point now where I always have at least some type of work lined up for me.
“I’m in two retail stores and am constantly putting together framed prints and bringing them over,” Ludy said. “What’s great about making prints of my local themed work is that I will be able to do a drawing and then sell prints for the rest of my life, so it’s continuous steady income. I am very lucky that I have a successful job that I love, and I wish everyone was lucky enough to have that.”
Ludy says she is very interested in all types of art, such as film and music. She was in drama club and played softball in high school and “those roots will always be a part of me. Someday I possibly want to go into animation or screenplay writing.”
“I am so thankful to my family, friends, teachers, and everyone in the community who has supported me.”
The cost of an 8×8 matted print of Vinton Landmarks is $15. The 12×12 matted print is $20. Tote bags are $35.
To order a print or tote bag call the Vinton Chamber at 343-1364 or email email@example.com.