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

    7 notes


  2. RECAP: sXc with Keegan Wenkman

    Written by cre8tivegirl | September 3, 2014


    It’s not easy being a print maker, but the results of hard work pays off when you’ve created something on an old press. Wenkman goes beyond setting type or using polymer plates. Some of his most impressive work is with his hand carved reduction linoleum cuts, a method he uses to create that will WOW you. This is just one of the processes he shared with us at his sketchXchange back in June. It was a pleasure to have Keegan in, the work was amazing and he’s a true craftsman.

    See more photos here.

    #keegan wenkman #KeeganMeegan #sketchxchange #pdxart #pdxevent

    6 notes


  3. Crafting the Story: An Interview with Dan “BeeTeeth” Christofferson

    Written by cre8tivegirl | August 25, 2014


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    Creating a single image that tells a story is a craft. For artist Dan Christofferson, storytelling plays a significant role in the work he produces. His art may be controversial to some, but for most it is a young perspective on the histories of culture and religion. Not all of it is based upon his Mormon upbringing. There are also huge influences from growing up in the Southwest landscape.

    We are excited to have Dan in The Station for Septembers sXc, please join us.

    When: Friday, Sept. 5th, 2014

    Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm
    Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

    Place: Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

    Cost: $5 suggested donation at signup

    RSVP on Eventbrite

    Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

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    When I first came upon Dan’s work I didn’t know about the influences that inspired this formidable collection. What I did know was that I loved everything. His variety of mediums is impressive. Clean digital icons, intricate paintings, hand-drawn illustrations, and mixed media. His experiments with printing processes like foil, vinyl, textiles, and silkscreening bring an analog approach to the systems he often creates resulting in some pretty cool stuff.

    When I discovered what inspired his work, I became even more intrigued. You see, he is a man covered from head to toe in tattoos creating beautiful graphic illustrations and paintings of a world I know nothing about. His depictions made me very curious.

    “Not a lot of people know these stories, and grew up with symbols of beehives, keys, and handshakes. That was something that clicked for me in school, something that set me apart. Tell the story of where I come from, in as many ways as I could.“

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    YPE How does the Mormon community regard your work? Is there any controversy?

    DC For the most part they have embraced it. I have been very careful knowing that religion and spiritual beliefs mean a lot to people. I don’t want to step on any toes or put anything out there that makes people have to defend themselves. Instead, I want to combine all these symbols and images in a way that makes people ask what it is, or think about the stories they’ve already been told.

    I would say that 90% of the people who see the work are excited that illustrations and art are being made about these stories, and 10% of the people are frustrated that it doesn’t tell the story how they believe it should be told, or they feel like it is poking fun at something that is important. Those people might be just a little too conservative and wouldn’t see art for what it is. I sort of dismiss that, it doesn’t really bother me.

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    YPE Are you going through the Book of Mormon to create the imagery or are there just certain stories that resonate with you?

    DC It’s just certain ones. Because some of these stories have been told so much, (maybe not to the world, but in my community), I’ll start to combine stories and connect them in unique ways. I’ll find a couple of stories and merge some of the imagery, so I tell it or present it in a way that it can be told. I don’t want to give away all the answers but I want to have a visual that people can engage with, and maybe come up with their own ending.

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    YPE Do you have a consistent set of characters that run through your work?

    DC Yeah, I think aside from the overuse of these symbols and shit (which I just can’t seem to stop doing), I’ve noticed that I include animals in weird ways in a lot of things. It makes sense growing up in between two mountain ranges. My dad was an animal guy and that influenced me. He would raise birds of prey, and always had snakes around us. Growing up it was really easy to see these characteristics of animals and connect them with exaggerated characteristics of people.

    “I need the ability to paint and draw which is a slow process. There are a lot of mistakes that you can react to and the ability to do things digitally I can undo quickly. “

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    YPE You have a good balance of digital and fine art in your work. Do you prefer one thing over the other?

    DC I’m always torn between if I should just focus on one style or medium, I don’t want to confuse people about the kind of work I do. I would love to focus on a certain style to have someone like an art director to rely on.

    I need the ability to paint and draw which is a slow process. There are a lot of mistakes that you can react to, and the ability to do things digitally that I can undo quickly. That balance makes life a lot easier when you can go back and forth depending upon how you’re feeling.

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    YPE Have you ever thought about putting your own stories into a book?

    DC Yes, I’m working on two books right now. One is a children’s book with my wife, and the other is a book I’m putting together from an art show I did last year. It’s based upon a fictitious brotherhood I invented. Essentially all the mysteries of the universe are revealed to the brotherhood, and then they reveal all those mysteries back to us through fine sewing, tailoring, and garment making. Thus the mysteries of the universe could be found in a really nice suit. The paintings I did for the show, the textile work and a few illustrations will be apart of the book.

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    We are excited to have Dan in The Station for September’s sXc. He’s an awesome dude and an award-winning creative who combines art, illustration, and design into his work. Dan is currently the Community Director for Big Cartel and lives in Salt Lake City with his wife. Client work includes: Weapons of Mass Creation, Big Cartel, Mailchimp, and more.

    We are thrilled to bring Dan to Portland for this special event. See you there!

    When: Friday, Sept. 5th, 2014

    Time: 6:00 – 9:00pm
    Check-in begins at 6:00pm. Doors close at 6:45pm.

    Place: Tillamook Station, 665 N Tillamook Street, PDX 97227

    Cost: $5 suggested donation at signup

    RSVP on Eventbrite

    Space is limited. Be sure to register early!

    #sketchxchange #wemakepdx #pdxart #pdxevents #dan christofferson #beeteeth

    23 notes


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