Finding her muse in a shoebox

Corona del Mar High School senior McKenzie Brown recently earned international recognition for her artwork.

But she did not take a traditional route. She designed an image for a shoebox.

Brown, 18, participated in contest called BOX IT UP! for retail website Solestruck and Jeffrey Campbell, a shoe designer, for a chance to win a $1,000 shopping spree.

This week she found out she placed third.

"I didn't even think I would make the top 10, so to make third was really nice," Brown said.

Her prize: a pair of Jeffrey Campbell shoes. She gets to choose from about 200 styles.

The contest winner is an artist and blogger from Paris. The contest was held on Solestruck's Facebook page.

Her shoebox design features a "found" sign in reference to Cinderella's missing glass slipper.

"I was just talking to my dad about shoes and things, and I thought of Cinderella and how she lost her shoes … so I kind of came up with the concept of Jeffrey Campbell finding Cinderella's shoes," she said.

The Advanced Placement studio art student used a tablet to draw the design by hand and used Photoshop to put it on the box.

Brown said she had no idea she'd win anything, so she didn't tell her studio art teacher until she realized she might.

"He got really excited," she said. "I hadn't told him about it. I had no idea I would make it to the top 10. He got all his classes to vote for it. All my friends were really supportive."

Brown isn't a stranger to art. She's taken classes since she was younger and has shown her work in galleries and in an Orange Coast College exhibit.

The teen always plans to have art in her life, but wants to pursue a career in engineering. She plans to attend Duke University in the fall and pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

"I want to keep doing it," she said. "I think art is a skill you can lose if you don't keep doing it."

Brown said she enjoys math, science and "building things." She said she and her father, Robert, have built most of the furniture in her room.

As for another contest, Brown is all for it.

"I think it was really fun, and if they have another competition, I'll do it in a heartbeat."

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