1. A Journey from the Heart—sketchXchange with Lisa Congdon

    Written by cre8tivegirl | September 19, 2014


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    Layered color, patterns, and abstract shapes are often combined with hand lettering, creating a body of work that is diverse yet recognizable. This is the work of Lisa Congdon. A painter, an illustrator, a writer, a seamstress, a teacher and more. When I first met Lisa I learned she is a compassionate maker whose journey as an artist tells the story of a woman who followed her heart and shared it along the way.

    We are thrilled to be hosting Lisa for a very special sketchXchange happening during Design Week Portland just before our celebration, WeMake Celebrates & Put A Bird In It. We hope you will join us as Lisa takes us through her journey as an illustrator, painter, and writer and gives us a glimpse inside the pages of her sketchbooks.

    Everyone in attendance will receive a special edition sketchbook created by Lisa and Scout Books and will also have the opportunity to buy her books and have them signed.

    Lisa has also contributed to Put A Bird In It as one of the makers who created a birdhouse which will be auctioned off for arts and music education. Be sure to stick around after the sXc to partake in the party!

    When: Friday, Oct. 10th, 2014

    Time: 5:30 – 7:00pm
    Check-in begins at 4:30pm. Doors close at 5:15pm.

    Place: LeftBank Annex - 101 N. Weidler Street,  PDX 97227

    RSVP on Eventbrite

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    YPE How long have you been working as a professional illustrator?

    LC I’m 46 years old, and I did not pick up a paint brush until I was 31. I didn’t actually sell any of my work until I was 37, and even then I had a full time day job. Art was a hobby then and I was selling a few things on the side, but only because people expressed interest, and not because I had any desire to be a professional artist. I didn’t think it would have been possible then.

    You know how you hit a tipping point and you work really hard for a long time, maybe you’re just playing around at first but then you’re like, wait, I really enjoy this! And then you play around some more. In 2007 I started putting my art on the Internet, and people began paying attention.

    Over the course of the last 14 years I began incrementally making more work, growing it from a hobby to a little more than a hobby, to a part time career, to a full time career. I’ve been doing it professionally now for 8 years. Most illustrators my age have been doing it since they were 22 or younger. So in some senses I am a late bloomer.

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    YPE Do you think the internet had a lot to do with your success?

    LC: Yes. If I had become an artist when I was 22 I couldn’t have relied on the Internet, because it didn’t exist. I didn’t go through the traditional channels to get to where I am; I took some art classes, because I was going through a difficult time, and I happened to fall into it at the right time, just as the Internet was exploding.

    If I had started making art at 25 it may have always been a hobby because back then there was no way to make it unless you were represented by a gallery or illustration agent or you had gone to art school and have connections. It was really hard if you were self taught to figure out a way to show your work to the world before the Internet came along.

    So then in about 2005 I did start to show my work on the Internet and also Flickr and through blogging. I started to share it with no intention of becoming a professional artist. I was just sharing.

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    YPE Do you have a favorite way to share your work now?

    LC I keep a blog and I blog almost everyday, five days a week. In addition to sharing my own work on my blog,  I write about other people’s work, things that I’m working on, and I write essays—sometimes about my life or frustrations, or the hard parts about being an artist. I also promote my work, my books and events I’m taking part of. So my blog is my home base, and then I take that blog content and share it on Facebook and on Twitter. I love Instagram, too. I use it mostly for fresh content or random pictures I take throughout the day. It’s a great medium for a visual junky. 

    YPE  What direction has your work taken from the beginning to now?

    LC When I started I was just a painter. Back then I was only making representational paintings. I loved painting. I was experimenting in flat painting, graphic painting and also deeper, richer, more painterly paintings. Then I started to draw in graphitel. I also have continued to play around with collage over the years. I love to mix mediums.

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    YPE How did you decide that pattern making and lettering was something you wanted to explore?

    LC In 2008 I signed with an illustration agent. I started to get requests for work and realized that illustration was a great way to make a living as an artist.  I didn’t only want to rely on selling original work and having art shows. If I was going to make a full time living as an artist I had to figure out a way to diversify my income. In 2008 I started making repeat patterns. My agent suggested it because she thought my work would transfer well into repeats. I didn’t know how to make repeats, and so I had to teach myself. Since then I’ve learned a lot about the kinds of work that lends itself well to licensing and different kinds of illustration.

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    YPE Your painting style has obviously evolved. I love your abstracts. Would you consider that your paintings have roots in pattern making?

    LC I love pattern and geometrics and repeating imagery. I didn’t start making patterns until 6 years ago. Now I have a line of wallpaper and a couple of lines of fabric, and I’ve also done some textile designs for kids bedding. Even before I started making repeat patterns, patterns were a consistent theme in my work. In my sketchbooks I draw a lot of patterns. They aren’t necessarily exact repeats. There’s something to filling a whole space with imagery, it’s sort of infinite and grows and expands forever. You can do that digitally or you can do it on a surface of a painting or drawing.

    About a year ago I also dove into abstract painting in a whole new way. As artists we talk a lot about having an identifiable style and look and there is a lot of emphasis put on making your work recognizable in one or two particular styles. While I believe that’s important to a certain extent, I also think it’s important to play in your work, and to try new things.

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    YPE I can see the experimenting you’ve done with different styles in your work but when I look at the body of your work as a whole, (like your vintage stuff, your nordic stuff, and even your editorial) it looks like Lisa Congdon, I know that its you.

    LC Somehow, despite the fact that I’m always experimenting and trying different things, my work is still fairly cohesive. That’s part of branding yourself as an artist—figuring out a way to package it all together so people understand it’s all part of what you do.

    YPE So what’s your favorite thing you’ve been doing lately?

    LC Besides the abstract painting, I love hand lettering. I’m a different kind of hand letterer than many out there. My lettering styles are not at all traditional, and I don’t create fonts. I have a few hand lettering styles with very little script. Lettering is one of my favorite things to do.

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    YPE You are a plethora of books these days! 

    LC I had a book of hand lettering quotes come out in April and there’s another one coming out in 2015. I’m also putting together another book that will be a compilation of all the different forms of my work, that comes out in 2016. I love making books.

    YPE What started you onto this path of books and how did your relationship with Chronicle Books begin?

    LC I had three clients that came all around the same time, and this was before I had an agent: Chronicle Books along with Pottery Barn Teen and Poketo. It all started when I had a solo show in a small gallery in San Francisco in 2006. I was showing some collage work and also some of my birch tree paintings. A women who worked for Chronicle was there, and she went back to her art department and told them they should check out my work. Within two months I had a meeting to show them my “portfolio.” I say that in quotes because I didn’t have a portfolio or a website. I had nothing. I was like, “Oh, shit, I better get my act together for this meeting.” 

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    YPE You wrote Art Inc. but someone else did the illustrations. Was that different for you?

    LC Because the book was a part of a Chronicle Books series, they all had a similar look and feel of vector illustrations. I don’t do that kind of work generally. I was also so engrossed in the writing, it was a great to have Karolin Schnoor do the art work and keep the look and feel in the series really tight.

    YPE Is this your first book you’ve written?

    LC Yes, and it might be the only one I ever write, because it was really hard!

    I can write a blog post, or tell a story on my blog, but that’s so different than writing a book—not just a book, but a business book. I learned really quickly that my natural writing style was going to have to be transformed to write a business book. You have to be very precise in the information you give and as accurate as possible. The book has to be written in language that is simple to understand. People are reading it because they’re seeking concrete advice. 

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    YPE How do you use your sketchbooks? Are they apart of your daily process?

    LC Not too long ago, I didn’t think I had time for sketchbooks. I think in my head I thought of sketchbooks as being one kind of practice, but then realized they are actually whatever you want them to be. Once I understood this I really got into them and decided to be more disciplined with them. I keep a bunch of art supplies at home so I can do free-form stuff, and a lot of that stuff ends up in my sketchbooks. I started posting pictures of the things I was drawing, and people seemed to enjoy them. Sketchbooks can be really private too. I don’t show everybody everything in them.

    Making art for other people is fun but there’s a certain set of expectations. Making personal work, even if it’s just a sketchbook spread, is so important. That the work is entirely yours takes the pressure off. They’ve become really important to me.

    Since 2007, Lisa’s been illustrating for clients including The Museum of Modern Art, Martha Stewart Living Magazine, Chronicle Books, The Land of Nod, and The Obama Campaign among others. Lisa is known for her intricate line drawings and pattern design.

    In addition to illustrating full time, Lisa is the author of Whatever You Are, Be a Good One and Art, Inc. The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist. She’ll share with us her path to working with Chronicle Books, writing for the artists, and her process behind the work she does. We’ll learn about her thriving career as a pattern designer, painter, and more. 

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    Everyone in attendance will receive a special edition sketchbook created by Lisa and Scout Books and will also have the opportunity to buy her books and have them signed.

    Lisa has also contributed to Put A Bird In It as one of the makers who created a birdhouse which will be auctioned off for arts and music education. Be sure to stick around after the sXc to partake in the party!

    When: Friday, Oct. 10th, 2014

    Time: 5:30 – 7:00pm
    Check-in begins at 4:30pm. Doors close at 5:15pm.

    Place: LeftBank Annex - 101 N. Weidler Street,  PDX 97227

    RSVP on Eventbrite

    #lisacongdon #sketchxchange #wemakepdx #dwpdx

    5 notes


  2. Put A Bird In It – Featured Maker, Kinoko Evans

    Written by megangex | September 18, 2014


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    Her characters might be adorably playful, but Kinoko is a serious illustration powerhouse. She does way more than just put pen to paper. Kinoko teaches comics at PNCA and instructs at the IPRC. A constant stream of her work flows through GrasshutFloating World and comic shows around the city. Her Etsy is always on fire. This year is her first time contributing a house to Put a Bird In It, and we couldn’t be more excited to see what she brings to the party.

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    MG: What attracted you to Put a Bird In It?

    KE: The first year I volunteered. The party was really fun and I had a good time meeting the makers. I met a bunch of people from Laika and it was great to see their process. I mean, these are people that make miniature houses for a living. It’s their thing.

    MG: How is your birdhouse coming along?

    KE: I don’t know where it’s going yet. I drew a lot of different things. I like the idea of keeping it simple. But then people really go all out and I think people might be disappointed. I’m just sketching a lot of ideas but at this point I need to collect my thoughts and get into materials. Make sure it can happen.

    MG: Are you drawing inspiration from anywhere in particular?

    KE: Well, I started thinking, and came up with the character, a Female blue jay. The Character is for my process in what’s motivating me to work on it. The personality of it would be a city girl but someone who would still have a garden. I want to be progressive and a feminist but when I got into it she was like ‘No! I just want to have a house and kids.’ Birdhouses are for mamma birds and I guess their families, you know. She’s the decision maker. The dude in her life has to go along with her or he’s not going to hear the end of it for the rest of his life.

    She’s realistic in thinking about the right house so I guess she’s still progressive. She’s already thinking about what schools to send her kids, you know if she moves into northwest they’ll have access to the Montessori school. She’s got to make the right move.

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    MG: Your illustrations already incorporate a lot of houses. Is that part of the narrative of your characters?

    KE: I’ve always been a little obsessed with houses. I grew up in Philadelphia and when I left my parents house I rented out an attic and here was a garett window. You could look out and see a bunch of rooftops. When I saw the tops of houses I start thinking up stories. I thought about alley cats or robbers—not knowing to what’s really going on inside the houses and buildings. The outside perspective creates these narratives. 

    I also spent some time in Japan and got obsessed with rooftops. I wish I could get a rooftop-drawing grant. Japan has huge cities, really modern but then you have he suburbs with Japanese houses. Then there’s ton of ancient architecture in the middle of it. Integrates really well. 

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    MG: Do you like switching it up and doing some sculptural projects?

    KE: I have. But when you do something that isn’t your specialty you feel like an imposter. When you are in the arts people come up to you and friends are like ‘can you paint this boat’ just random stuff. 

    I’m doing a ceramics project and some mugs with my colleague. My friends recently asked me to make a wedding topper for them so I have been experimenting with that. I have the resources so I should be able to experiment. I should.

    #dwpdx #designweek #kinoko #putabirdinit

    7 notes


  3. designweekportland:

A few questions for Aaron Draplin
What do you do? How does Portland play into your story?
I’m a graphic designer who dabbles in the logo, poster and merchandise categories.
In Portland, and across this great nation. I’m from Michigan but fell for Portland in 1993, the first time I visited it. Coming from Detroit and Chicago big city experience, this was a place you could park! And walk! And hang out in, you know? It only takes a couple stolen cars to sour one’s love for Detroit, you know? Portland was a gentle place. With tons of record stores, bands and long brunch lines.
How do you want to shape design in Portland? (Do you?)
I’d like to shape it into a 47-side hexatriagafloogasphere, where the angle of the dangle equals the coefficient of the hypotenuse. Wait, no. Aw hell, how do answer this one? I’m just doing my thing, you know? If people dig it, then they dig it. If my little mess shapes the design of Portland, then I’m a proud man. If it doesn’t, well, hell, I’ll still be doing whatever it takes to make a living. I’ll go with the first answer.
How does our city help you grow? How does it limit you?
This town has always had the sense of “tiny invention.” Like, you won’t hit it big, but, you can hit it. Someplaces, hell, you can’t make it. Like, the place works against you. I’ve watched this town embrace so many cool things. It’s allowed me to dream and scheme, and then, have the guts to go for it. Where I’m from in the Midwest, your sense of cautiousness can kill you. Here, I feel like I can pull off the stuff that I want to pull off. So thankful for that.
I wish this town would “limit” the following things: Utilikilts, bicycle dicks who blow stop lights, neck tattoos, pretentious condiments, people who say, “I don’t even own a TV…” and one dickhead in Woodstock.
What are you looking forward to at DWP this year?
Sadly, I’ll miss the first couple days, due to “professional obligations” in Memphis and Los Angeles, telling my halfwit story to people who wish they had it as good as we have it in Portland.
But I fly back that Wednesday, and I’ve got my sites set on the following engagements:
01. Ellen McFadden: A Life In Design02. Sagmeister and his happiness extravaganza. 03. Apple Prototype Collection thing! Sounds fun.04. Buchino’s “Design Rocks” Design Gala! Mars!05. The We Make party Friday night is a must.06. The Jolby & Friends “Backbone” thing, too.
There’s so many. I’m making a list and checking it 14 times. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull them all off?
Like, I’ll be on a plane when Aaron Rayburn does his thing on the 6th. Missing this just plain pisses me right off. And I don’t know what to take my anger out on. “Gateways to Other Dimensions?” Just the title alone makes me want to skip that Adobe mishmash I’ll be doing in Los Angeles. What an incredible, artistic and finely-tailored Portland champion! Leigh will be at his show—front fuckin’ row—representing the Draplin Design Co. enterprise. Look for her.
Recommend one great thing to see or do or eat in Portland.
This is a one answer question, that applies to all categories: Sizzle Pie. Go get a slice, you scrubs!

    designweekportland:

    A few questions for Aaron Draplin

    What do you do? How does Portland play into your story?

    I’m a graphic designer who dabbles in the logo, poster and merchandise categories.

    In Portland, and across this great nation. I’m from Michigan but fell for Portland in 1993, the first time I visited it. Coming from Detroit and Chicago big city experience, this was a place you could park! And walk! And hang out in, you know? It only takes a couple stolen cars to sour one’s love for Detroit, you know? Portland was a gentle place. With tons of record stores, bands and long brunch lines.

    How do you want to shape design in Portland? (Do you?)

    I’d like to shape it into a 47-side hexatriagafloogasphere, where the angle of the dangle equals the coefficient of the hypotenuse. Wait, no. Aw hell, how do answer this one? I’m just doing my thing, you know? If people dig it, then they dig it. If my little mess shapes the design of Portland, then I’m a proud man. If it doesn’t, well, hell, I’ll still be doing whatever it takes to make a living. I’ll go with the first answer.

    How does our city help you grow? How does it limit you?

    This town has always had the sense of “tiny invention.” Like, you won’t hit it big, but, you can hit it. Someplaces, hell, you can’t make it. Like, the place works against you. I’ve watched this town embrace so many cool things. It’s allowed me to dream and scheme, and then, have the guts to go for it. Where I’m from in the Midwest, your sense of cautiousness can kill you. Here, I feel like I can pull off the stuff that I want to pull off. So thankful for that.

    I wish this town would “limit” the following things: Utilikilts, bicycle dicks who blow stop lights, neck tattoos, pretentious condiments, people who say, “I don’t even own a TV…” and one dickhead in Woodstock.

    What are you looking forward to at DWP this year?

    Sadly, I’ll miss the first couple days, due to “professional obligations” in Memphis and Los Angeles, telling my halfwit story to people who wish they had it as good as we have it in Portland.

    But I fly back that Wednesday, and I’ve got my sites set on the following engagements:

    01. Ellen McFadden: A Life In Design
    02. Sagmeister and his happiness extravaganza.
    03. Apple Prototype Collection thing! Sounds fun.
    04. Buchino’s “Design Rocks” Design Gala! Mars!
    05. The We Make party Friday night is a must.
    06. The Jolby & Friends “Backbone” thing, too.

    There’s so many. I’m making a list and checking it 14 times. I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull them all off?

    Like, I’ll be on a plane when Aaron Rayburn does his thing on the 6th. Missing this just plain pisses me right off. And I don’t know what to take my anger out on. “Gateways to Other Dimensions?” Just the title alone makes me want to skip that Adobe mishmash I’ll be doing in Los Angeles. What an incredible, artistic and finely-tailored Portland champion! Leigh will be at his show—front fuckin’ row—representing the Draplin Design Co. enterprise. Look for her.

    Recommend one great thing to see or do or eat in Portland.

    This is a one answer question, that applies to all categories: Sizzle Pie. Go get a slice, you scrubs!

    4 notes


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