Many people enjoy doodling and drawing trucks. It can be a great way to relax and fill time. But for some, like my new friend Miss Flatbed Red, it can also be a fun and fulfilling career. The Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) in 2017 was her introduction to the world of big trucks. Her husband Chris Budke is an avid historical truck lover, and she attended the show that year with him and had her sketchbook in tow. From there it has been a crazy ride for this classically trained and experienced artist.
Her first truck drawing was done at that 2017 MATS show, and it was Jason Alt’s “Tiltin’ Hilton” Peterbilt cabover (which was also the 10-4 cover feature in November 2019). While doing that first drawing, she got her first commission when Tom Sercombe asked her to draw his 1948 Ford panel van. A few months later, in the summer of 2017, “Flatbed Red” was born. She wanted a catchy pinup name, and this was the first one she thought of that wasn’t already taken. Later, she added the “Miss” to give it that traditional pinup twist.
I first met Red at the 2017 Richard Crane Memorial Truck Show held in St. Ignace, MI. Her retro style of dress caught our eye when my boyfriend John Jaikes and I met her. Her husband Chris Budke was dressed as the “Snowman” at the truck show and, along with his 1978 cabover Kenworth, the two of them were so cute together. I was so impressed, I hired her to draw a picture of John’s truck and trailer, while it was sitting in line at the show, with a background of Lake Michigan. She sat down in her chair with her art supplies and it seemed like in no time at all she was finished with a beautiful picture of John’s purple Kenworth combination.
Drawing and creating from the moment she could hold a pencil, Miss Flatbed Red excelled at art throughout her schooling, and is an accomplished musician, as well. When it came time to choose which field to focus on in college – music or art – music won out. She attended Bowling Green State University’s (BGSU) College of Musical Arts for a Bachelor of Music in Music Education. The trumpet was her main instrument, but she also played piano for fellow students and large ensembles, and studied conducting, too. Along the way, she continued drawing portraits, mostly in pencil, and honing her craft.
Along with her accomplishments, Red had the honor of being awarded BGSU’s Stuart R. Givens Fellowship which allowed her to spend a summer in London, England, where she shadowed the London Symphony Orchestra. The opportunities this brought to her were unbelievable! Red officially relocated to London in 2012 to pursue a Foundation Diploma from the University of the Arts London, followed by three years in the city and a Masters of Arts in Music Education from Roehampton University.
During those fun years in London, Red also served as an apprentice to London-based portrait painter, Hugh Beattle. She learned classical painting and portraiture techniques and helped organize a central London exhibit while in this position. I told you this girl was the real deal!
During her time in the UK her trumpet did not stay silent, as she played and sang regularly for her local parish church and the All Souls Orchestra. She can be seen and heard on their 2015 Prom Praise CD/DVD, recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall and featuring Matt Redman, a popular and successful English Christian worship leader, author and singer-songwriter. During the same time as rehearsals for this event, she had a photograph on display at a one-night “Pets in Portraits” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
In the spring of 2016, Red and her beloved cat Tasha moved back to Ohio, and on May 14th her and Chris were married. She couldn’t have imagined then the road she would one day be on with her art because of Chris’ love of old trucks. Since drawing her first truck, she has refined her technique and developed her own unique style. This multi-talented artist has made her own niche in the trucking industry. Watching her work, she makes it look so easy to bring a truck to life on her paper.
Attending truck shows has helped get her name out there. People are often curious when they see her sitting in her chair and drawing the truck in front of her. Red enjoys wearing vintage dresses and doing her hair in a style from the 1950s, and this has become her signature look. Of course, she drew the caricature of herself for her “Miss Flatbed Red” logo. The drivers are intrigued by her work, and a lot of them are friendly, stopping to chat, and many have become friends. Facebook (Flatbed Red) and Instagram (@flatbed_red) are great ways to keep up with her work, along with her website (www.missflatbedred.com). Check out her pages and social media channels for pictures, videos and all the cool things happening in her life.
Don’t worry – if you can’t make it to a show, it’s easy to get pictures to Miss Flatbed Red and have her make your truck look great forever! On her website you can get pricing and other details, as well as contact her and send pictures so you too can get your very own Miss Flatbed Red original. Remember, she draws more than just trucks – she also does portraits of people and pets. At the top of her website, it says, “I can draw anything,” and she can. If you have a special background in mind for your picture, just let her know, and she can make it a reality. I think the trucking industry is lucky to have this talented young artist working to keep our trucks alive forever in the drawings she does.
And if all that is not enough, you can now get your monthly fix of Miss Flatbed Red and her truck drawing skills each month in 10-4 Magazine! In each issue, we will now be featuring one of her drawings, so look for that to start next month. All of us at 10-4 Magazine would like to welcome Miss Flatbed Red and her husband Chris to the 10-4 Family. We at 10-4 have always prided ourselves in featuring “The Best of the Best” that trucking has to offer and, “drawing on her skills” (pun intended), this unique and classically trained artist certainly fits the bill.