Drawing inspiration from Lisa Congdon

If you’re looking for inspiration for starting a new life pursuit, go no further than Lisa Congdon.

Last summer, I had the privilege of meeting Lisa, a prolific artist, illustrator, and writer from Portland Oregon. Lisa works for clients around the world including the MoMA, Harvard University, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books,  Simon & Schuster, and Random House Publishing.

lisa-congdon-artShe’s the author of six books, including the starving-artist-myth-smashing Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist, and illustrated books The Joy of SwimmingFortune Favors the BraveWhatever You Are, Be a Good One, Twenty Ways to Draw a Tulip and A Collection a Day. Her seventh book, A Glorious Freedom: On Being a Woman, Getting Older, and Living an Extraordinary Life will be released by Chronicle Books in 2017.

Lisa sells her art on Etsy, teaches a series of on-line classes. And in her spare time, she writes a really cool blog called “Today is going to be awesome” where she riffs on art, business, and life. You can follow Lisa, and kind of get to know her, on FB.

Lisa comes across as someone who has always followed her own, quirky path. But she didn’t take her first art class until she was 31, and then took another 10 years to decide to be a professional artist. And then, as she started to draw and develop her own unique look, she decided to post her work-in-process on Facebook. She wanted to show that making art is hard, that you get better over time, and that we’re all beginners – sometimes for a long time.

Lisa is talented. She’s brave. She’s funny. She’s successful. She’s remarkably shy. And she created a business and a really cool life by having a vision of where she wanted to go, by practicing her skills, and by being open about what she knew and didn’t know. Then she built a community around her work.

Here are my favorite quotes from Lisa’s talk.

  • “The Internet provides the space to find your community no matter what you do.”
  • “Do it every day. If you do anything enough you become pretty proficient at it.”
  • “When you feel like you’ve got it is when things start to go sideways.”
  • “Imperfection rules.”
  • “Embrace the wonkiness.”
  • “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”
  • “If something doesn’t work, take a deep breath and move on.”
  • “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
  • “You’re sailing your own ship.”
  • “Try not to compare yourself or your journey to others.”
  • “Keep your focus on your own path.”
  • “Show up every day and do the work.”

Oh, and just so you know, with all the success she has had in a tough, competitive field, Lisa says she still struggles. She thought when she “arrived”, she’d be calmer and feel less stressed. “I figured someday I’d have it all figured out – but you never really arrive – it’s on to the next thing.”

So what’s your next thing? And how can you plan in time to practice and expose it to the world?

This moment of inspiration brought to you by… life :). Wall art in NYC: Lower East Side



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