There is no structure to making art. The best ideas pop into the mind at random, which is how Johanna McShan, the creative force behind River Road Clothing Co., would describe her process for creating her clothing and accessories. In an industry often dominated by mass production and fleeting trends, she creates each of her original clothing designs by hand.
“An idea pops up in my head, and I try to put pen to paper as quickly as possible to get the gist of the design down before it floats away.”
What makes hand-drawn apparel so special? For Johanna, making a one-of-a-kind statement with each of her pieces creates a personal connection between her and the people wearing her clothes.
A born artist, Johanna takes inspiration from all aspects of her life. Her creations celebrate Southern individuality, reflecting the diversity of the Texas landscape that inspires her. The warmth of the sunsets, the rugged beauty of the Hill Country, and the vibrant spirit of the rivers—all find expression in the lines and curves of her designs.
“I might be out for a walk by the river and see a pretty patch of flowers or out at a restaurant and see something funny about the specials; you just never know when an idea will spark.”
While we do make gear for the current season or a specific event (like Johanna’s custom pieces for the 2023 TX Monthly BBQ Fest), most River Road designs happen in their own time.
Once Johanna drafts an idea on paper, she recreates it digitally to make a more detailed version of that shirt, hat, or decal. After that, she works back and forth with local screen printers to match the reality to the vision. They will take her artwork and make a sample they photograph on a mannequin and send for approval.
“Creativity isn’t an exact process, but I do have a system that has developed over time that works for us."
The allure of her pieces is not just in the soft, breathable fabrics and custom screen-printing but also in the meticulously placed strokes of her pen that create a sense of authenticity. Her hand-drawn designs come to life as wearable art. For River Road customers, there's joy in throwing on a piece of clothing that is original and makes the perfect statement.
Her hand-drawn designs are more than just shirts, hats, or accessories; they're statement pieces meant to command attention. So, the next time you throw on a River Road creation, remember—you're not just wearing a piece of clothing; you're donning a piece of art, a slice of Americana, and a celebration of the timeless beauty of the great outdoors.