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Global Book Release: Art Inc.

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Global Book Release: Art Inc. with Lisa and Meg

Lisa Congdon, Meg Mateo Ilasco

Global Book Release: Art Inc.

Lisa Congdon, Meg Mateo Ilasco

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1. Global Book Release: Art Inc. with Lisa and Meg


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Global Book Release: Art Inc. with Lisa and Meg

Hello everybody welcome to creative life you are here for lisa condon's global booker lease for our inc which is published by created alive I am personally so excited about this event I should tell you who I am I'm christina laugh I work in the marketing department here it creative live I'm super excited because I used to work in the book world actually with chronicle books so it's a really nice emerging of two two worlds and bringing a book event which is usually in brick and mortar you have to be there physically or broadcasting this out to the world so everyone can be here for those of you who don't know about creative live I see a lot of new faces that might not be familiar with what we dio were an online education platform so we uh I have written in world experts to teach classes on everything from crafts, music, business art and design on music and audio so we actually have a class coming up with lisa in september it is called become a working artist it's based on her book but we...

're going to be delving a lot deeper it's a two day class it starts september thirtieth well I'm talking everyone at home should go online and ours bp for that class if you go to our website got a creative I've dot com forward slash business you confined in the upcoming business classes or you can search lisa's name we also have will have a small in studio audience for that class so if anybody here wants to be a part of that two day class we have about five people in the studio audience so there's a form you can fill out on that page for that as well um try not to look at my notes but so today what's going to happen is we have made matteo alaska who's very closely tied to the anc syria's with chronicle she wrote the first book called crafting in the series and she's going to be interviewing lisa about art think they're going to be talking about lisa's journey and writing the book so I'll tell you a little bit about meg and a little bit about lisa magma matteo velasco is in designer illustrator and writer like I said she started she's helped start the ink series with chronicle she's, also the creative director and co founder of anthology magazine, which is a beautiful home and lifestyle magazine which you should all check out. Lisa condon many of you know she's an artist and illustrator and author um and I'm looking at my notes I she started oh, I love this about lisa she started making art as a hobby in two thousand one five years later she was showing and selling her work and now she makes a living as a full time artist and she has clients including martha stewart living general mills museum on our modern museum of design mama said that anyway esso and this is her most recent book with chronicle there is a hashtag for events so if you're at home tweeting talking about this on social it's art in clive and if you're here you can take photos during the event are after and target without a swell I think that's um yeah and I'm going to be in the chat room so for everyone at home online ask questions and then at the end we'll have a little q and a that will open up to the in studio audience and then I'll I'll bring up questions from online too but with that I'll just bring you guys up here get started hey lisa I I'm so happy to be here for the launch of art inc you and I worked so closely together on this book and in the process of working with you on this book I learned so much about you and your journey and one of the things I learned about you is that you are a very honest writer it's just like the way that you share your stories the way that you um dispense advice it comes from this very generous and giving place um and so it was really my privilege and you know to be working with you to be your editor around this book thank you it was an amazing experience to work with you t t in five minutes. And so, you know, and I was thinking about this, that you I actually have a background as an educator. Onda as an educator, you have to be very giving of yourself of your time and of your knowledge. And in some ways, like, this book is kind of that bridging of sort of your previous self as an educator and your for your current self is an artist. So I thought I'd be good to, you know, let's talk a little bit about that about who you were before and how art came into your life and how it became, like such a force in your life, you know? So my first career was a zoo, an elementary school teacher. I did that for about seven years. I taught first grade, mostly. And then I went toe work for an education nonprofit, the school where I worked, gotten a grant from this organization that I ended up working for for almost eight years, and they pilfered me, and I went toe ended up going to work for them, and so I spent eight years there, and and then another few years and another education nonprofit in san francisco, um, meanwhile, um, in about two thousand one, I also ended a relationship that I had been in for a long time and I talked about it a little bit in the introduction to the book but but it was this period where I knew that I needed teo you know, sort of figure out what to do with myself because there was a bit of emptiness there and so I ended up signing up for an art class and um and it was this decision that was actually really random it wasn't like I had been dreaming of being an artist or dreaming of painting or that I necessarily felt certain creative urges it was more like this could be fun and so it was actually on my brother's suggestion I took my first painting class with my brother and ended up changing my entire life this random decision on dh then after that it wasn't so random anymore not necessarily that I would become a working artist but that you know it would have any significance in my life. So in the beginning um I was no different than anybody else who starts making art um I what I did was very cautious I look at the work that I made especially before even started sharing my work on the internet, you know, in the early phases and I took a lot of classes but you know what? My work is very cautious was very sort of um there wasn't a lot of experimentation going on there were all of the things that you know, that they teach you in art schools to push past, but I did a lot of that on my own eventually, and now I can't even really look at the work that I was making even work that I was making six years ago, because I feel like I'm continually developing um but my work in the beginning was no different than the work that anybody else starts making when they first are making art. It wasn't like I woke up and could paint and draw like, I paint draw now, in fact, it was pretty terrible at it. At first, I mean, I don't mean that in a way to, like, criticize myself, just that it that's just sort of how it is when you start. I mean, there are exceptions there are people who literally have, like, genius talent for making our, but I wasn't one of those people, and however, I was extremely, um, motivated and driven in a way I'd never had been before and again not to make a career out of being an artist, but I'm to do this thing whether it was sewing or collage or painting or drawing, um it was exciting to me in a way that nothing in my life had ever been exciting to me before and was very private in the beginning to this was in the early two thousand's I wasn't yet on the internet anyway and so you know there was no sharing I was working I was working at a full time job until two thousand seven actually eso I you know, I I was I was just doing this in the privacy of my own apartment in my own home on my kitchen table um and so I continue to work at it and then around in two thousand five my sister joined this thing called flicker she's like you should go on flicker it's really awesome on dh she also started this thing called a blawg um actually I think it might that might have been in two thousand four both the block and flicker and my sister's two years younger than I am but I think she's the coolest person in the world so I'm like do everything that she does I was like ok, so um so I joined flicker and I started blogging and I start sharing pictures of what I'm making which at the time was just a mishmash of really bad paintings, some collage and a lot of things that I was sewing was doing all this crazy japanese patchwork and stuff and I ended up making a ton of friends and because, like, that was the beginning of the movement that we have now, where, like, everyone's sharing stuff, but back in two thousand four, in two thousand five, it was actually rather small group of people, many of whom I'm stew very close friends with to the stay and might even be sitting in science. And, uh so, you know, I just, you know, was posting pictures of what I was making like, hey, look what I made today, but that's, what everybody was doing and we would comment and encourage each other, and I don't think any of us had any aspirations to write books or have shows and galleries or get, you know, license our work like this was a world that was kind of for a lot of us, you know, was just, you know, we were just doing it for fun, and but sure enough has happened to me and has happened, tio a lot of people who were doing similar things at a similar time, um, the internets, this amazing place, right? And so people slowly find you. And so around two thousand six, I had been on the internet for a couple of years, and, um, I got contacted by somebody, and he wanted me to have a show in her store in seattle and I started selling my work online not I didn't open anesi shop till even two thousand seven, but I was like, email me and also you this thing that I made, you know, and I had my first show in two thousand six, and, um, and that was sort of the beginning, so I make it sound really easy, but like, basically what I was doing is just a lot of experimentation and a lot of making and a lot of playing around and and that has only, of course intensified and continued because the more you realize people are paying attention to what you're doing, the more pressure you put on yourself, tio, keep getting better at what you do. So here here at you're at home and you're creating are like, in your kitchen and you're making friends online, you at this point, like, did you feel really confident about your art? Or was there any bit of, like, self doubt because going into this, well, it's funny in the beginning, I didn't have a lot of self doubt necessarily that started once I realized people were paying attention, I think in the beginning when you don't really think anyone paying attention, you're like, I'm just making the thing cause it's fun, and andi, I like it, um and you have to remember that and those of you who were on mine at that time nobody was really not a lot of people are paying attention there wasn't no social media or you know, you know exposure like there is today but but yes, once I realize people are paying attention like all of a sudden I became very self conscious about what I was doing and you know, you sort of developed this idea that, um once you begin identifying as an artist and if you're like me if you're self taught for the most part you think oh, everybody else knows what they're doing or knows the right way to do something I've just been making this up as I go along like I'm going to be found out that I'm a fake you know? But I don't really know what I'm doing and I found out later that everybody even people who go to art school make it up themselves for the most part but yeah, so a lot of self doubt and a lot of wondering if you know I was cut out for this but I have to say that the reason that I kept going was that I kept sort of like doing everything that I could to quiet those voices and I'm sure you must have been getting a lot of validation to yeah there's a lot yeah so I had a different blood at the time that I have now and I had people following my work on flicker on da and get a community that's like things were really helps yeah, things were happening for sure like I it wasn't like I put my work into the world and nothing happened, so there was certain amount of validation so it's this tension right between I love this thing I love to do this I want to show it to the world and I feel really self conscious about what I'm doing and people are paying attention don't look at me, you know, you don't like what I'm making and I think that's the point at which most people stop when they realize people are paying attention, they go and they want to hide even if what they're getting is positive feedback thank you just need to want to just generate perfection like right from the beginning. And so I think that's why? Maybe people wait a little bit to put their thing online because there's like what? It's not yeah, and then they just keep waiting and waiting and the right time just keeps going are they put something out there and then people pay attention and then I get freaked out and they leave um, but I didn't leave I like it, I know I like dealt with the anxiety of knowing that people were paying attention and and and just kept going so I and I know you mentioned you mentioned this to me in the big alright you probably think he did mention it in the book as well is that when you started off though you you were just thinking you were going to be a fine artist that was that was it yeah I didn't even think I would ever leave my job I was like yeah yeah that's how you how did you transition from from your job from having that career to then becoming a full time artist like what did you do to prepare for that? So in the beginning I was actually showing my work on dh having shows pretty regularly not anything like huge prestigious places but a few galleries and some stores I'm telling my work online and um I literally like um you know went from uh you know having you know this a job where I was um no you know, working all day long going to my studio at night and then you know, trying to figure out ways to make art right and then you find the time right tryingto find the time to make it at night I found a studio that was like right down the street from my office you know um tio getting to the place where I had to think about like, am I going to leave my job like is this a possibility for me to make a living and so this took place over the course of a couple of years and I did this sort of interesting thing where it isn't this, like in the book we talk about like don't leave your day job for now, right? Everyone talks about leaving your day job but like it's hard, right? And I was working full time you have to hold on right? And so and not only made decent money at my job, teo, I had what they called golden handcuffs, you know, during this thing that I have done for a long time, but everyone at work knew that I was like making art on the side and they were coming to my shows and I was having the shows and I was like making paintings and collages this thing called illustration and licensing I didn't even really think about it or know it existed. And so, um so having shows and working late and all of a sudden I had this show in, like two thousand six in san francisco and and again I thought all that felt possible to me was like this continuing to make art original art and show original art like that's kind of what I thought and artists did and um and I had the show and I don't know who it was, but somebody from chronicle books actually came to the show and saw the work and at the time I was making, like, my first body of work that was getting some recognition, and it was these these paintings of birch forests, which I don't make any more. There it is, yeah, this is one of the first ones, or, you know, one of the early pieces, and they're sort of stark and weird looking, but you can tell it's a birch for us, but and, um, so I had this show, and there was other paintings and drawings in it, too, but that had a lot of birch force paintings. And so somebody from chronicle ended up coming to the show, chronicles a local san francisco company. So, you know, the great thing about that is, you know, that they just happened to see my work, and so then I get, you know, an email from someone like we'd really like to work with you, and so chronicle books, it's ironic that we're sitting here talking about, you know, our inc, which is a book that was published by chronicle, pray because they were my first client, and, um, they were like, all we want to do some products with you. And so I ended up doing these no cars in this birth street journal with them, which which there's? A picture of right there. So a different birch forest on the one you just saw and I painted all different ones with different backgrounds, colors and stuff. But that was my first product with chronicle. And, um, anyway, so I was like, oh, this is kind of fun, like making art work that's going to go on something um and so, you know, I had also at the time started to become friends with this woman, who's, one of my closest friends today, lorena simonovic, was this company called petit collage in that was this was actually before her company really took off, and at the time she was doing mostly illustration and licensing and she's like, you know, you should really look into illustration it's probably a way that you could leave your job because I think the fine art work that you do is great, and you should continue to do that. But did you know that you could make some money? Think like, even more money. We're like that you could have some passive income eventually, right? And so I started to talk to wind up now she if she really did and I give her a lot of credit and so and then she was like, and have you thought about finding an agent and I was like, okay, on again like this all happened very fast, and then I ended up signing with an agent, probably a year later, it took me a while to sort of prepare my portfolio, which at the time was very small, and I feel like my agent, his name is lola rogers went out on a limb to even sign me because my my portfolio was small. Um, so anyway, that's sort of how it happened. And then, um, right after chronicle poquito, which is a lot of los angeles based company contacted me about licensing some of my images, and then we no, but it did, and not very fast, and that didn't really happen till two thousand eleven, and at this point is two thousand seven there still a few more years and and that's a thing like it can happen really fast for some people there was this quote that somebody put on instagram the other day, and I don't remember who said it, but it was something like, you know, ten years of hard work and all of a sudden look like overnight success, you know, to some people, and that really is just like, a lot of plotting through a lot of you know, that all of a sudden it'll piers, though you've made it and you've arrived and everybody wants if he's of you when in fact for years and years and years you're working at something so there was this period of time where I was really struggling as an illustrator and even as a fine artist and um so anyway I did this thing in between where I opened a store with my friend rina I mean the reason I met rina is because stores called very divisive and somebody else owns it now it lives on but I met rina because she asked me to have a show at rare device in new york and then we ended up opening a store we became really good friends and end up opening a store in san francisco which allowed me to leave my job I had this thing which provided extra income because living in the bay area is expensive and I knew that eventually I could make a full time living as an artist or at least I thought I might be able to but in the meantime I needed something so had the store which allowed me the flexibility to have more daytime in my studio and not just nights and so I'm doing both and I did that for a few years and then things started to take off for me in two thousand ten or early two thousand eleven and we sold the store so that was great like having this sort of in between thing um and then in two thousand eight I signed with lola rogers and started getting more work, but again, it wasn't until late two thousand ten, early two thousand two thousand eleven that that I've had sort of steady and consistent work in a way that is at times actually a little overwhelming. Well, let's, I mean, you've touched on a little bit of sort of your different streams of income on in the book we you talk about what I'm trying to, I'm going to try to name him, okay? I'm like getting commissions selling prince and selling one off pieces, licensing an illustration showing your working gallery showing already galleries and so you do all of that of teaching on, and you do all of that. We also know the shuman income is, of course, writing books. Yeah, I'm wondering, like, how do you how do you juggle all of this? And how do you prioritize and what I'm like? What do you do first? I don't know well, you know it's hard because like on the one hand, I love doing all these different things, like even the range of things I do and my art practices very broad from very like, digitally rendered, I dropped everything I do starts by hand, I don't have formal training and digital stuff, but like my patterns end up in vector and stuff like that, but like I have stuff that's its various or digital usually colored and rendered in some way, and then I have stuff like my abstract paintings, which aren't even representational and are like, you know, made with paint and so and then everything in between and and that's, how I'm always gonna be happiest is an artist is like making lots of different kinds of art and it's the same way I feel like that's, how I'm going to be happiest also as a sort of entrepreneur is doing lots of different things with my heart. So the great thing about diversifying your income and this one thing we talked about in the book, is that when one in income stream is a little slow and other one can pick up the slack, when something gets may be boring or tedious were overwhelming, you can stop it for a while and focus on something else. There are people, and I want to validate this who like to do one thing right? And that's ok, like there's, no right there's, no right or wrong way. You have to find the thing that works for you, and there are people who make their entire livings making bp patterns that are licensed on things. There are people who make their entire living's just making fine art that shows in prestigious galleries they don't even sell prince of their work because it you know, it might lessen the value of their work in some way so there's just you know, the range is is broad and the trick is sort of figuring out what your goals are and what you want to do with what you make and so all the while staying true finding your truth investing true to yourself exactly yeah because if you don't, then you're gonna be miserable, right? So anyway, um I like to make lots of different things and I like to do lots of different things and I have learned along the way that there's certain things I'm learning I don't like us much like certain forms of illustration that I find a little bit more tedious um and there's things that I really love like when I get up in the morning like I cannot wait to do this thing, you know, and I'm trying to take stock of what those things are and the more opportunity you have, the more ability you have to pick and choose to take the things you know, in the beginning when you're first starting out, you sort of have to in some ways you don't have to but you know, you can't say yes to everything right like I have to take this opportunity because it's, you know, because, you know, I think time that's right, you're like plant list is so long because I don't know how to, you know, for a long time, I didn't have to say no, even if it was something I didn't necessarily want to do. So managing all of that is hard, eh? So I do everything from from licensing, which is different from illustration an illustration is usually commissioned something that you're making, drawing or painting specifically to illustrate something, whether it's in a book or something editorial for a magazine or newspaper or something decorative for a product or for advertising our marketing campaign on dh then they're there is I saw the fine art practice like making personal work while they don't have a lot of time for it, I like to make time for it when I can, because it's, the part of me that, like, gets to experiment and play in ways that you can't, as an illustrator as much. Um when you're an illustrator, you're taking assignments and trying to sort of make something that works for the client's book or article or, you know, whatever and that's great and those great to have those parameters around your work there's, creative challenges that come with that and then for me like having time to make personal work is really important on by recently in the last couple of years started painting abstractly and of course once you you experiment with something than people see it is what you d'oh another aspect of what you do and then you get big jobs and um so the pressure gets you know the things that always the things that are at one time fun sometimes become work so but even like on the worst day of work um making our is so much better than the worst day of work I ever had s o o r even the best of our office so um so I also uh so I also have a final practice so I I show my work and galleries like right now I'm preparing for three different group shows well um and uh I have a commission of us like on my life list of things to do was like to paint something really huge and I just got this random job keeping the wish out there yeah it's true from this company who is decorating the lobby of a building in san francisco and it's seven by nine foot abstract painting and I only started painting up directly two years ago and already I have this opportunity and so there's that and I also do a fair amount of teaching online business classes and some are classes on dh then um public speaking I haven't etc shop which I've had since two thousand seven so once a week every wednesday I printed ship all my orders myself I don't have an assistant you have one yes, I don't know you and I feel like I'm getting to the point where I need to figure out the structure of my business in the next phase but so a lot of the stuff I do I do by myself, which is hard and it's hard to manage but at this thing it's called my work flow so it basically is a spreadsheet in google docks that lists everything that that I do or that's on my plate in any given time because you know that thing where like when you have a lot on your plate and the thing that sources you out most is that you're forgetting something right? Right on dso the the work flow is like changed my life because if I check in on it every morning I know that I'm making strategic choices about what I'm gonna work on that day based on all of the things that I have on my plate and not just work assignments going there but like if I have a speaking engagement I have to prepare a talk it goes on there if I have an interview with a magazine it goes on the work you were so organized you have todo have to be and so at any given time I have anything from four to twenty things on my work flow and so that's probably he used to be a project managers yes, yes, yes, yes, this is true idea spread sheet is not foreign to me and yeah, I don't actually like I didn't they're using those skills that's, right? I had lots of years of, you know, product management experience. Um, so so I I and that works well for me, the sort of knowing and, you know, there there's like a column for when it's due and I said sort of have color coding that works for me on based on that I make a weekly to do list and then I it shifts and changes every day because you don't ever know what's going toe happened, right? Like, on any given day, you could think this morning I'm going to wake up and I'm going to do this this and this, but inevitably get that email that right tail spins your you know, like out of control in your whole day gets changed because this exciting email comes in or this dreadful email comes in or whatever, right, like the client needs changes to the thing you turned in yesterday, what you thought was final or meanwhile a new client or a new person want it's something from eating every day you're like a whole new set of it, and some days that doesn't have and you can actually do the things that are on your to do list and great, but so so that the to do list is suit very flexible and has to change, but I always write everything down. I I I'm not like a disciple of this book, but I didn't read it, and I do sort of like thiss book getting things done? Can you remember the guy who wrote it? But, um, I apologize to you, whoever you are and he's really well known guy he's written several books, but but his whole thing is like, if you are caring things around in your head, all they're going to do with stress you out, but if you write them down and organize them in some way that you'll feel such a sense of control over all the things that you have to d'oh. So people say to me all the time, like, how do you manage, like, a million different projects at once and it's, mostly because I write things down and then I chunk out my time every day doesn't always go smoothly, um and, uh, that sort of yeah, that's sort of how it works, but it's, this sort of combination of, like, making time for organization and making time for created like getting work done and then making time for for other stuff that doesn't fall into either of those categories so you you touched on this a little bit um I mean because when you have you have so many things going simultaneously and I can assume that like that sometimes their project that come and you really want to do them but you don't have the bandwidth for it and so I get to say now so how do you go about saying no and saying no in a way that like still preserves that relationships could you I'm sure you want them that eventually come back again yeah later when you're it's open it's heartbreaking feeling but I always feel good in a weird way tio my friend wendy macnaughton andi I talked about this a lot this whole idea of like when you say no to a project and you are able to be really like sort of professional and earnest about it with whoever is asking you to do to work with them that in some ways like it can actually garner the respect of the client even more like that they know you're busy but that they know you know if circumstances were different you'd work with them and you wouldn't believe how many times people have come back to me later and said ok now are you a little went missing and how respectful people are busy working artist, and I feel like we often feel like ashamed or bad to say no to people because we're a czar, n'est ce we are so grateful to be where we are so that we're so grateful when anybody asks for a, you know, like, um, I think that for the most part, I think they're exceptions, but for the most part, artists are very sort of genuine. I'm like people who who really appreciate what they get to do every day on dh they don't take that experience lightly, and so they want to say yes to people who you want to work with them, but, um, and so it's hard, but you can actually like, I think in some ways, um, you know, strengthen relationships with potential clients by, you know, by saying no when it's not appropriate, because really, also clients want the best work from you, right? And if you can't give them the best work and you tell them that you're so busy, you couldn't give him the best work. Just yesterday, I got an email from a rather large, well known advertising agency in san francisco wanted me to do something with them and that my plate is so full right now, like until early two thousand fifteen and and I had to say no, and it was like most like hard email to write and not even sure the project was right for me, so that helped a little bit, but it was still so hard, but as I say in the book, you know, regardless of whether you want to take a job or not, or or be part of a show, what a gallery when someone reaches out to you, the best thing to do is always true, responding to respond immediately and to thank the person for reaching out and to let them know that if the circumstances were different, you'd love to work with them or, you know, whatever, because you never know what the future can bring, and you always want to leave a good impression with people who who express an interest, even if it's something that, you know you don't have the time for never would want to d'oh, but it was never know they might come back again, and that project might be if you were there working for a different company, doing different words like this. The universe is made up of actual human beings, not ta natanz, right, like these people switch jobs, and like yesterday, I got an email from a woman that I worked with it, martha stewart, several years ago, not for an illustration job but I was featured in the magazine for something else that I had done and and she was like, oh, you might remember me from I wrote an article about you and now I'm working for this company and we'd love you know so you you just never know you know, and if you make a good impression people will see you as a human being who they want to work with again, right? You also mentioned the book I think that you set up like a set of criteria for which to say, like, what projects to say no to u s o in two thousand eleven things exploded for me in a way that I was not prepared for on and what led to that is also an interesting story, but um but once I got there I was so overwhelmed I started leaving with a life coach and and I don't work with her anymore. We worked together for a couple of years and I learned so many amazing things from her and one of the things I used to talk about all the time was this like this pressure to say yes or you know and so she gave we did this assignment together where we basically came up with this criteria for when I would say yes from when I would say no and of course you know the criteria well, very depending on who you are and what you what your goals are but for me it was some combination of, say, there's five criteria like, um decent pay right uh time in my schedule to do this project or whatever um it was another one um exposure. So is this a client or a gallery that that could potentially you know, give me some experience? Er um is there a fit aesthetically like um could I see my stuff on their products? Are these products that I would buy or is this a gallery that I would be proud to show with? And then I think it was like there was another criteria that was moral around, like sort of values alignment or, you know, just like that but it's like a dream client? Yeah, yeah or or is this a client or a gallery where I could see myself fitting in and sometimes that's that's aesthetic that's like that they have the look and feel of what they do with something you'd be proud to be aligned with and sometimes it's it's just sort of what they represent and so we decided that three of those five or six criteria had to be in place in order for me to say yes and nowadays I think it's more narrow down to two because I'm not busy that you know how to make some hard choices sometimes um like I just signed on with a new client last week and I know bandit within my schedule but this is a client I could now say no too so I will have teo you know, stay up really they're also being is going to be millions schedule they're also being super flexible right with it um uh like how I turn things in over the next eight weeks and if the thing they're asking me to do is something that I do could do in my sleep um that's another thing like it's been going my criteria list, but I have worked on projects that were so far outside my comfort zone that, um that working on them for eight hours a day was like very anxiety producing and then there's those things that you know how to draw and paint and do that you could do in your sleep you're proud of them and you love doing them, but they're relatively easy. I mean, that also often ways into whether I take a job or not like is this something that I could do easily don't have a very clear vision of what they're looking for or does this seem like it's going to be really hard? You know? Yeah, so on top of all these things that you are already doing, you know you've been very strategic with social media and one of the things that you did to start I don't know how you have time to do this, but side projects um in the past you did collection a day and you also did um three hundred sixty some odd days at hand lettering so just curious like how did you come up with the ideas for doing these bipartisan what what like what's the reason for starting them? We've done three since two thousand ten in my first one was collection a day which is and that's becoming a book, but it didn't and enter my mind in the beginning necessarily um at the end of two thousand nine and again, this was this was actually before I was busy as I am now, um I was looking for something to motivate me to do something new and different every day and also do something that would like like, engage people with my practice a little bit more and so I decided I was gonna avid collector of really weird things emily who's sitting in the front row used to be my assistant and she actually came to work with me when I started this project several years ago and we were like spend hours cataloguing all these weird things that I collect from school supplies to something supplies to stamps toe whatever and so part of it was like this attempt tio like document all these things that I had been collecting over the years that I had a passion for I also used a lot of this stuff, a lot of the ephemera in my collage work on the part of it was just like this site, this whole idea of, like, organizing mundane things into a kn orderly pattern and photographing it because I feel like ended up being very satisfying for people to look at, and I wasn't the only one who's doing this kind of thing at the time, there was like a surge of things organized neatly, but basically had this piece of paper on the floor of my studio, and I would take one are part of one of my collections every day and organize it on the paper and then photograph it, um, and then posted on my block, so I wasn't like every morning we get up and go to my studio and photograph something I did lots of things like on one day I would do like four, five and then post them over the next four or five days, and there were some photo editing, and if I could do it all over again, I would have gotten professional lighting and a better camera and all that, but it was what it was at the time and it caught on like people love seeing these like organized photos of weird things like vintage pin cushions and, um and so I got a lot of internet attention some days I drew things, but that was, like, literally a ce faras it kind of connected to my art in illustration practice. This was really just something that was separate from what I did every day, the drawing and painting and everyday um so that was great and that god took hold, it ended up being published into a book, and then I took a year off. Um, lest my relationship fall of, I'm being facetious, but like, it takes a lot of time over personal project and do something every day like that. So I took a year off, and then in two thousand twelve, I got that, you know, I got the like bug again. So I did this project called three under sixty five days of hand lettering now, whereas the collections project was a separate website, I didn't are blocked and even have a personal log at the time. By the time I did the other project, I had a personal blawg, so I was posting I was hand lettering something every day I was not hand letter prior to this, I wanted to get the best like an x. Surprised to help young again had no aspiration to field the port for you even if I wanted to become a calligrapher and I took calligraphy classes and I started if you look at the early things I was I was like, I'm using a nib inc and I was and your face looks like and I hate it I hate it and you drop that may have been everything like every sweet little don't think offering motor shop in yeah, so I didn't end up liking that but then I did want to give up either because when you announce you're doing a project and that many people follow you online you're like I better community what do you make the announcement? You have to see the whole thing what I realized is that like what was great about this was sort of developing my own style not trying to mimic like traditional calligraphy style so I graduated from like incon needs and letters toe like hand lettering, quotes and words and sometimes brandon streams of consciousness that were you know, and every single day I would post something that that I hand lettered and the early stuff is really primitive and kind of not very good and then by the end of the project I had, like developed this hand lettering style and I was experimenting with some others, you know, introduce quote somewhere, somewhere in there, somewhere in there? Yeah, brigitte who's, one of my editors, a chronicle now contacted me and was like, we're interested in publishing a book of hand lettered quotes. Now, I had grown so much as a hand lettered during that period of time that I was like, well, you can't use these because they're terrible after reading, because, you know, the more you do something, and the better you get at it, and the more just sort of you reject your former work in the morning, wantto do so, you don't get every day, and you're learning about yourself every day, and you're learning about the process, and the more you do something, the better you get at it inevitably. And so, um, so we I ended up making a bunch of new work and redoing and cleaning up the work that I had done in earlier to some of the work. And so that book is whatever you are, be a good one, this's any this is from the image that was just up there was from is part of my next book. Okay, I have another book of hand lettered quotes that's coming out in two thousand fifteen, but whatever you are, be a good one was the one that was published just this past spring and so it's a combination of a few things from that project and then some new work that I made and now hand lettering is like I would say fifty percent of the illustration and licensing jobs I get are for hand lettering so and again this is just like goes to show you that when you put your heart and soul into something and practice it every day and put it out into the world that something will come of it usually I did another project last year with maria sharapova who writes brain pickings we did a collaborative project called the reconstructionist so I this was weekly though not daily on and I drew a portrait of a famous woman from history every day and then she would wrote an essay and that is not going to be a book like that's just living on that for now is just living on the internet was something we did for a mutual like passion for like amazing women in history that we both admire so s so those are my projects and I think personal projects are great a lot of people do them I'm not the only one and um I think they're great creates a lot of discipline for you just again it's a great way to generate exposure for your work it's a great way tio gain followers on ge also to practice something when you do something every day um or every week you'll inevitably develop a style you'll get better at it you'll refine it on that's all part of it I mean I feel like here you're not afraid to show sort of that process because I know like from day one today three sixty five it's everyone going to see the evolution of your work yeah and their stuff that sometimes people now will link back two things I was doing two years ago on my hand lettering project you like can I show this on my block and I'm like can you pick something more recent that's really terrible it doesn't reflect my current talent ok you know I'm sure that's fine you know I'm the harshest judge of my own work you know more than a week everyone and I think most people are usually so hard just so that's a huge part of like social media for me is just during my work and and using my blawg in that way to I think it's we're going toe turn toward the audience now for questions and I've got one we've got people online saying hello and there's a question from giulio I'm sure slaughtering his name but he's actually in italy teo right now I e I love this question because creative live is a where creative community and it's full of artists and makers on dh this question really touches on I think what a lot of our audience would want to hear about eso he's wondering how important do you think it is to be part of the creative community? Could you replace it? We're place physical connections with digital connections. I love that question and I want to say two things that we talk about it a lot in our lincoln and also it's going to be I think an entire segment of my class were still hashing out the details for my upcoming class for creative life and that's because I think it's critical um, I do think that online community is really, really, really important on dh often online community leads to what do we call it in real life community? I'm not really sure if there's actual term for that yet, there should be if there isn't, um, so so that's. One thing to remember is that absent in real life, like if you live in a small town, if you don't live in san francisco or new york or a place where there's just always stuff happening, where you can meet people or you're like super introverted online community is a great place to start and there's so many places to do that I taught a illustration class recently, and I asked everyone like how many people in this room have friends they only know on the internet and every single person in the class of thirty five students raised their hand on dh that's because it's like a really a part of our reality now is that we meet other artists and makers or designers who um photographers whatever it is we do who do similar things or who had my our worker who follow us when we follow them and sometimes those things can lead to a real life situations too but I do also think and I wantto really push people tio um to think about building in real life community as well um volunteering for example if you have aspirations to um we become part of the art community in your town or city or you want to show your working galleries or you want to get to know people in the art world in your community you need to show up it's not gonna happen if you sit at home um you have to go and you have to introduce yourself to people and you have to seem interested and you have to volunteer for things and you have to donate your work to auctions and fundraisers and there are so many different ways that you can get your work into the world and meet people who could become friends in real life and sometimes as I said sometimes that starts on the internet and then ends up being real life on and I think it's even true for being part of the the illustration and licensing community you know what no matter what your aspirations are, you know whether you want to be a fine artist or an illustrator or a combination or you just want to sell your working you're at sea shop the more people know you as a human being the better and the more you're going to feel a sense of support around what do you do because like being an artist can feel like a very lonely thing so I became for like going to conference is going to hear people talks, go to your local college and go listen to people speak and go to the q and a afterwards um you may not talk to anybody at first but eventually you will um you know, take classes class art classes our great way to meet people learning some new art school that you don't already know um so I think building communities extremely extremely important because those people are the people who are going toe for free for jobs potentially hire you also it can also lead to those kinds of connections of show up to your gallery shows that's right? I interviewed jessica silverman in in the book and she owns this she's a young up and coming gallery owner in san francisco and part of the new wave of galleries in the gallery business is hard these days right? The economy and she's just talk to me for a long time about just showing up you know, that is one way to sort of break into the community has just show up and introduce yourself and be part of it, so I'll do one more from online and then we can open up the audience, but I'm so excited because there really are people from all over the world watching this is la la from dominican republic and she's wondering, what do you do to recharge the batteries when you finish a project and you have to start another? Um, well, I am an advocate for eat, sleep and exercise, um, I don't have a lot of time to lay around on the couch or, like, take vacations or, like, walk around on inspiration days like I used to, um, but you would be amazed on but all those things are great, I don't mean to put through them, um, I think that it's important to take time to figure out what drives you and attach yourself to that thing, whatever that thing is, even if it means doing it obsessively. Um, but I also think, you know, absent like or in addition to trying to, like, go after inspiration and really recharge your batteries in that way, um, like getting eight hours of sleep a night, um, is, uh, is not just something I do because I'm you know in my mid forties and I need for sleep and I didn't want it in my twenties like it really actually helps a lot for me to do good work the next day ate three meals a day generally very healthfully I exercise a cz often as I can be great for the endorphins and I think just like basic self care is super important I don't have time for massages occasionally I get a pedicure you know but yeah like just basic meet your basic needs and because when you're doing something that you love like your batteries were going to be charged anyway um there's not I mean I'm definitely get burned out after some projects but like sometimes I end a project and I'm just so excited to start the next one because I just like I got so much out of that project and I think ultimately it's finding the work that re energizes you instead of burning you out and then you won't have to deal is much with with having to recharge you know so part of it is the choices you make which I know comes with the privilege of having a lot of choices which doesn't happen automatically for everyone but it does eventually do you want to see if there's any does anyone imagine audience have questions? We have microphones if you do we'll walk hi s o I'm wondering as an artist you have different practices from abstract to representational how do you deal with safe at a kind approaches you for one thing but you're really into you know where you're really into this one modality and you think that it would kind of come across a little bit better how do you deal with tell you know kind of working with them with because they have this very specific idea of what they want you to do but you want to do something differently um I think that first of all what I always tell everybody is don't put anything in your portfolio that you do not want to get paid to do again even if it's the thing that people love you for and that you maybe got written up for in a magazine and you're really proud of it don't put it in your portfolio because someone will contact you to do it I have learned this the hard way so that's rule number one but if someone contacts to you about something and um the thing to remember about illustration in particular or even commissioned fine artwork is that ultimately the client is your boss like they're paying you to do something that they want you to do I think that depending on the client there sometimes some bandwidth and really communicating your vision for what you think it could be even if it's different than what they came to you for is always a valuable exercise if you do it politely and professionally and you know I always err on the side of deferring to clients and trying to execute their vision but I have been in situations before where I really do think that if I did it this way it might look a little better and most clients are pretty open to that because they want something that is going to bring out the best in you and your work um so I think acknowledging their vision but also like saying you know I have this idea that if we did it in this particular style um it might work better and would you mind if I you know made you a sample of what I'm talking about and then ultimately they get decide because they're the ones who are hiring you um and I always like to make the client happy so I'm like even if this was painful I'm going to do it for them anyway um but I do think there are times there was a time in place to push the envelope a little bit and to insert your own opinion for sure yeah I hope that was helpful you spoke lightly about once your art was presented in front of a community how that usually scarce people off and I sort of have a three pronged question how did you deal with that in terms of competition with yourself in your prior work competition with other artists and also opinions of folks who followed you or your consumers of your art. So the first thing I did was took the word competition out of my vocabulary because I know that some people would argue that the art world, especially like the high end illustration and fine art world, um, is very competitive. Um but in order to survive and that for me, I I do sort of do a lot of high profile illustration work. I'm not a big name in the fine art world, so I don't have tio worry too much about that, but, um, this idea that there is a place for me and there's, a place for other people has been extremely important in my career, and it has kept me from sinking and into this place of feeling terrible about myself because there's so many artists who have years, more experience, years, more training, years, more exposure, years, more education than I have there's every reason in the world for me to believe that that I can't make it or compare. So I remember back in two thousand six or two thousand seven, I went through this period of comparing myself a watch other people, and have self doubt, and I had this mantra was like that applied not just to my our park. But everything was like live your own life like how to put blinders on everything around me on the one hand like that I was just going to chart my own path and try to stay true to myself um I also started to adopt this philosophy that there's something for everybody in the world and it's all about finding your audience so um that help me feel better about this whole idea of competition that um you know jennifer might be making really beautiful paintings that I admire greatly and wish that I could make and she has her audience and that's great but I'm going to make my work and there are going to be people who love what I d'oh and that's my audience and then somebody else is going to do their thing and that we can all be successful and that we can all have a place and that um this idea of competition and sort of like both being intimidated by that and there are certain people who are very competitive in terms of um in terms of their artwork that just sort of, you know, understanding that for me that that might work for other people in terms of what motivates them and drive them but for me it was it was something I wanted to stay away from, so so a lot of what helps me deal with soft out is is sort of thinking about this notion of like charting my own past doing my own thing staying true to myself um and that's not to say that I'm not inspired by other people are not influenced by other artists or movements or trends or those kinds of things but then I'm going to try to do my own thing and that there's a place for that thing which is mine there's also a place for somebody else to do their thing and that's a hard place to get but with a certain amount of practice and self top itself talk I think it is really possible to get there I'm gonna jump sadly we are out of time climbing up high thank you guys so much I was so amazing sight and abruptly for those of you who were here we're gonna have a book signing right after so you can ask me some more questions there are two things that I need to bring up one of them is if you've enjoyed hearing everything today definitely r s v p for lisa's upcoming creative live class it is on september thirtieth you can go to our website search her name that's going to be the easiest way to find the class on dh r s v p and then we're also looking for in studio audience so anyone that's here um there will be a new audience called form that you can just click on that button for that and then, for everybody and everybody, home stars v, p two and everybody should buy lisa's book today is the first official day is out it's, published by chronicle books. You can go to chronicle books, dot com and buy that book it's. Amazing. Um, I think that's everything you can also go to amazon or barnes and noble or your local bookstore. Local bookstores, voices great. Thank you so much. Thank you for watching thank you so much for this is awesome, thank you.

Class Description

Lisa Congdon wants to help you build a successful career as an artist. Join Lisa as she sits down with Meg Mateo Ilasco to talk about Art Inc., her book about thriving as an artist.

In this intimate broadcast, Lisa talks to Meg about her path to becoming a fine artist & illustrator, and the lessons she shares in her book, based both on her own experience and those of other successful artists.

Hear directly from Lisa as she talks about the resources & practical actions creative people can use to turn their passion into a profitable business.

Get a personal look at what it takes to build a successful and rewarding creative enterprise.


Denise Barker

This was a great class! Lisa was so honest, open and inspiring. Meg asked relevant thoughtful questions so no time was wasted. Thank you!!!


I highly recommend this course. Lisa Congdon is truly an inspiration! Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to watch it for free.