How Jimmy Don Holmes Became the Go-To Metal Artist for Laura Bush, Joanna Gaines, and Hank Williams Jr.
When Joanna Gaines comes up with an idea for a new metal sign to sell at her Magnolia Market there’s just one person to call—Jimmy Don Holmes. The Texas artisan has been making the shop’s metal signs for years after being recommended by friends. “I had just finished a sign for some Waco business owners who are friends with Chip and Joanna,” Holmes writes on his company’s website. “Not long after, they were eating dinner together when Joanna expressed the need to have a ‘go-to’ metal art person for signs and cut-outs, etc. The couple was instantly like ‘Oh! You gotta call Jimmy Don Holmes in Crawford!’”
Holmes started working in metal as a partner in his father’s metal art business, Stars Over Texas, located in Crawford, Texas. When his father packed up for west Texas, Holmes stayed in the town near Waco and set up his own shop, JDH Iron Designs, with his Lori working as partner and bookkeeper. They had built up a business creating one-of-a-kind metal wall art, decorations, and signs, earning a reputation for skill and artistry.
Gaines reached out to Holmes and they quickly hit it off. “The first time I went into his metal shop, I loved the way it felt like a small town family business,” Joanna Gaines wrote in the Magnolia profile of the artist. “Jimmy Don is so personable, and within five minutes of meeting him, he felt like someone I’d known for years.” They struck up a working relationship and soon Holmes was making iron signs to fill the walls of the Magnolia Market to brighten up the homes featured on the hit reality TV show. Like in the show’s finale, when Gaines asked him to turn a song her client wrote into a sign that would hang in the new home.
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Of course, working with Chip and Joanna Gaines means working with the entire Fixer Upper crew and, soon enough, Holmes was in front of the camera, working out his nerves, and trying to get used to his newfound fame. “Now I’m an official big ole ham,” he writes. “I love to be filmed and meet fans. I really enjoy getting to meet people and find out where they’re from, and what their story is.” Holmes has taken to his fame, loving the fans. He’s become a Texas legend of sorts and to that end he now sells his own merchandise with his trademark phrase (“It’s hard being me”) and silhouette on t-shirts.
Holmes and Gaines seem to have settled into a companionable mutual appreciation of each other, with Holmes noting that he has learned a lot from Gaines, particularly when it comes to taking a “less is more” approach to design. “I’ve learned from her that sometimes a plain Jane design works best,” he noted.
Holmes isn’t famous just for his proximity to the Fixer Upper family, though. His ironwork is exquisite. He turns strips of copper into graceful script and cuts of words of wisdom out of metal sheets, transforming them into works of art. Over the years he has worked on projects for President and Laura Bush, Hank Williams, Jr., and even the United States Secret Service and Texas Department of Public Safety.
If you’re in the market for a metal sign, head to Magnolia Market or place a custom order for a personalized product through their website.