Artist Ryan Cecil Smith is a regular customer and a friend. We asked Ryan to create three postcards about life at the shop. The colorful details he drew truly capture the feeling of being at Willie’s Shoe Service.

Good Morning

I like meeting other customers at Willie’s because everyone here loves their own shoes, loves the craft of taking care of them, and is interested in each other visiting the shop. Everyone on staff is cool and friendly, too. I drew everyone coming into the shop happily in the morning.

The Golden Hour

I usually come and pick up my shoes at the end of the day, when the light coming into the store is most beautiful. I like seeing customers bringing in shoes for repair, or coming in to pick up something that now fits better than ever.

Cobbler’s Workspace

The staff in the back are busy all day repairing shoes. Willie’s doesn’t rush through any job. It’s fascinating to watch their expert staff carefully open or a sole or replace a heel. The space is filled up with interesting tools and shoe parts and pieces in the process of repair. These expert craftsmen are comfortable in their neat environment.

Postcard Project

Series #1

Ryan Cecil Smith

Animator, cartoonist, illustrator, Ryan Cecil Smith really loves shoes. When he moved to Southern California from Osaka Japan, he settled in North Hollywood. He knew he wanted to bring his shoes into Willie’s Shoe Service several miles South of his home and work. Smith has first seen owner Raul Ojeda on a Jesse Thorn’s Put This On video. Smith felt compelled to meet Ojeda. Not only did he find just the right place to get his Carminas and Aldens repaired, he found a kindred spirit in Ojeda.

Currently Smith works at the Cartoon Network in Burbank as a background designer for the soon to launch OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes. Smith describes the show as, “A world where everyone is a hero or has a power. The mom works at the shopping center. K.O. spend his time at the bodega with cool teen clerks he looks up to and their boss. They let him hang out with them as defend their shopping center from the evil box warehouse across the street. It’s fun!”

Smith is a background designer, similar to set design in live action films. “Everything on a cartoon that does not move I am responsible for drawing. So when I go to a place like Willie’s Show Service, I am always looking around and the corners and nooks and figuring out how to draw stuff. It is a cool job.” He also publishes his own comics and books on the side and does freelance illustration.

To launch the Postcard Project, Smith was a natural choice. Ojeda has seen one of Smith’s holiday cards and illustrations. He quickly became a fan of Smith’s detailed drawing style. Smith finds inspiration in Los Angeles by looking at the architecture and vehicles around the city. “LA always has different types of new ideas. Weird places. Stuff formed in weird ways, I tend to take pictures of cars, and so I can draw them later. I keep photos in my phone of weird old trucks.”

For the Postcard Project, Smith wanted to help Ojeda find a way to tell more people in the neighborhood about what is happening at Willie’s. “The goal with the first card was to tell you something about the store. So that when you went there you would recognize it,” explains Smith. “I wanted it to look like his store and feel welcoming and fun. Everyone who goes to Willie’s is someone who cares about his or her shoes. The first card aims to capture that atmosphere of different fun people being there. “

For the second postcard Smith captures the feeling of being in the store. “It’s about the nice atmosphere of talking to people inside the shop and getting your shoes back and checking them out,” says Smith. “I want people who see the card to recognize the place when they go there. He has that wall of shoeboxes and he has and he has the wall of lasts, which is very distinctive. “

The third card shows a portrait of Sal and Victor working on shoes. “They have this workshop in the back,” says Smith. “I took a bunch of pictures to remember everything. The equipment is cool and it is so neat to see them working.”

The first series of The Postcard Project to the community come from an artist who also loves to talk about shoes. “My shoes are my treasure. I like to take them someone else who cares about them. Raul is a cool guy and has a sense of humor. It is a great luxury to have nice shoes and take care of them and not let them deteriorate. I feel proud that Raul helps me do that. “

The shoes the Ojeda repairs or resoles for Smith for were purchased on the other side of the globe. “Today I am wearing a pair of Carmina suede cap toes, which I bought in Hong Kong on a trip back when I was living in Japan,” says Smith. “I bought them from The Armoury, which is this cool store with a cool reputation. I like that I remember where I was when I bought them. I have taken really good care of them over the years. When I first bought them they were a bit too formal for the teaching job I had, but now I wear them two or three days a week. Yesterday I wore a pair of Aldens.”

Caring for customer’s favorite pairs of shoes in a setting that has become a gathering place for people in the creative community makes Willie’s a one of a kind experience.

Ryan Cecil Smith:


We’ll be mailing the postcards to all our friends. We hope you will send a post card to someone who loves well-made shoes as much as we do. Please come by the shop and grab some cards or go online and put in a request for where we can mail them for you.