We Are Very Angry

01/20/17

Shortly after the election in November, I sat down with Maria Molfino, who hosts the podcast Heroine: Women’s Creative Leadership. We weren’t sitting down to talk about the election. In fact, we mostly talk about other things — things like what I was like as a kid (and how that changed when I hit puberty), and women stepping into their creative power, and the unsexy parts of my work. I hope you will give it a listen*.

But inevitably, at the end of the podcast, Maria asked me about using my art for activism. At the time the podcast was recorded the election had just happened. In some ways, I was still in shock. Even though I’ve never been shy about sharing my views online, I was just then beginning to think about how I would use both my art and my platform online to express my views and influence others in a more powerful way. I also talked about this very thing with Sandi over at Crafty Planner in our recent podcast episode, also recorded after the election. It’s been on my mind a lot. It’s something I think about nearly every day.

My question has been: how will I use my social media platform and my creative expression to contribute to activism?

In the last two months I have made some major shifts in this area. I have begun to care less about losing followers or attracting trolls, and I have begun caring more about speaking my truth, regardless of what happens as a result. I have begun to participate in fundraisers and political campaigns online. I have begun donating part of the money I make as an artist to organizations and political causes I care about. I have been openly expressing my grief to my 125,000 Instagram followers.

Part of that shift has come from watching other artists, in particular fellow women artists, speak their beliefs on social media and through their actions. It has been one of the most inspiring and liberating experiences of my life to sit amongst so many creatives expressing their dismay and anger.

Yes, we are angry!

We are very angry.

That’s right: YOU ARE NOT ALONE in your anger or sadness or grief.

You are not alone!

For me, action has helped keep me from falling into the pit of despair.

Here are some things I am doing, and I encourage you to do too:

+Use your pain to express yourself.
+Make time to express your feelings and beliefs through your art.
+Own your anger or frustration. Do not let others tell you to “settle down.”
+Be authentic: say what you feel and in a way that you would say it. Speak your truth!
+Stop worrying about whether people will stop following you or like what you post.
+Participate in fundraisers with your work.
+Support causes you care about through your art — raise money, encourage others to donate, do pro-bono work for them.
+Connect with other artists who are also interested in using their work and platforms to shed light on political issues and human rights issues you care about; collaborate with them!
+Research workshops in your community that teach about activism for artists. Participate in local initiatives.
+Follow and support fellow artists who are using their platforms to express themselves. This is a time to unite!

Tomorrow I am off to the Women’s March in Portland. Next week you’ll see a short video I made for a post-election cause I’m very excited about. After that, other things. I will not remain quiet.

In love and light,
Lisa

*If you enjoy Maria’s Heroine podcast, you can also find it & subscribe to future episodes in iTunes here: bit.ly/herpod

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New Wholesale Products!

01/09/17

ATTENTION RETAIL SHOP OWNERS:

I’m very excited to announce my new line of stationery with Madison Park Greetings! This is my first full line of stationery — ever! And I wanted to tell you about it in case you have an interest in purchasing it for your shop.

From cards and matchbooks to journals and wrapping paper, I had so much fun working on this product series which includes loads of pattern and vibrant color. These products will soon be available for wholesale purchase through Madison Park by phone or online:
Call Madison Park’s Sales Rep: 1.800.638.9622
—or—
Order online at parksidepapers.com.

You can also view the collection at NY NOW in early February at Booth #720

And just for you: because I receive a decent amount of inquiries about which of my products can be purchased through wholesale and where, I’m launching a newsletter designed specifically for retail shop owners. Subscribe here to receive updates about new product launches, how/where to order my products wholesale and more.

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New Podcast: Crafty Planner

01/09/17

I’m super honored to be featured on Sandi Hazlewood’s long-running podcast series Crafty Planner. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Sandi and I hope you enjoy the podcast! You can listen to it here.

Happy Monday!

CATEGORIES: Podcasts
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2017 Print of the Month Launches Today!

01/03/17

Friends, I’m so excited to launch my 2017 Print of the Month series! For each of the 12 months of 2017, I will release a new LIMITED EDITION print. Each month, there will only be 40 of each print: once they are gone, they are gone forever and will not be for sale any longer.

Prints will be of various sizes, mediums and prices each month — some months I will offer a digital print, another month I may offer a handmade block print, and another month a screen-printed poster, etc. Each month, the print will go for sale during the first week of the month and I will announce on Instagram. The prints will remain for sale in my Etsy Shop until they sell out.

The January print is called QUEEN OF HEARTS, and it’s a piece I painted to represent 2017 as my symbol for 2017, representing love, strength, and change. Perfect for ringing in the new year!

Get yours here.

Happy Monday and happy 2017!

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On Burnout and the Slow Rebuilding

12/22/16

True story: I started my career as an artist ten years ago as eager a beaver as you can imagine. I was the textbook illustrator and artist at the beginning of her career (except for that I was already in my late 30’s when I began). I was building my client base, finding my voice, experimenting with mediums, building my portfolio and dreaming about where I wanted to go next. It was scary, yes (I made no money for the first three years), but I loved it. I was motivated in a way I had never been motivated to do anything in my life. It took me about four years to really get going, and then once I did, opportunities began happening for me very quickly.

Since 2010, I have written and/or illustrated 15 books (seven of those my own) and worked with over 65 illustration and licensing clients. I’ve also recorded nine classes, 21 podcasts and stood on stage and spoken at 27 different events. Just this past year alone I flew on 28 different airplanes. Amazing things have happened for me in the past six years. I’ve worked with fantastic clients and on dream projects. I do not take those things lightly. I am enormously grateful for every opportunity I’ve had. I feel extremely lucky.

But (and this is not the first time I’ve admitted this in the past six years), all of that work has, over time, also made me really tired and, as a result, I found myself earlier this year at an entirely new level of unmotivated, stressed, and cranky — a level unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I started by admitting this to my wife, employee and friends, and then, slowly, in fits and starts, here on the Internet to the people who follow my work.

To be clear, I don’t think my situation is special or unique. I know from talking about my struggle with scores of other creatives that many share it (you can listen to my conversation with artist Samantha Hahn here, in which we discuss this and related issues). Turns out, it’s very common for artists and writers to catch a wave of opportunity that is both wild and exhilarating but also dangerously unending. After a time, we want to jump off the wave and take a rest (or maybe just do something different for awhile), but the wave is going so fast we feel like we don’t have the chance, or, worse yet, we are scared to jump off for fear we will never be able to get back on.

Ironically, for me, the constant work, while good for my portfolio and pocketbook and growth of my career, began to do the worst possible thing: it began to kill my sense of creativity and excitement about making art. Worse than feeling tired or cranky or constantly stressed, this, to me, was the most frightening side effect. Over the past year, in particular, my work began to feel dull and monotonous. I began to worry I’d lost “it” all together — not just my will to make art, but my ability to innovate or make anything that mattered or that anyone would have any interest in looking at or consuming. I know this wasn’t reality, but it was how I felt. I began even to ask myself existential questions about the point of life all together.

I am sure by now (if you have gotten this far in this sad and woeful tale) you are looking for me to now transition to sharing a happy ending to this story — the next part wherein I make some solid changes in my life, learn a bunch of things, and am no longer tired or anxious and have regained a renewed sense of creativity.

The problem is life doesn’t always go that easily and changes don’t happen that quickly, at least not most of the time. I have made a lot of changes over the past four months —  to slow the fuck down, to take pressure off myself, and to regain a true sense of excitement and motivation about making art again. And I’m making progress in all three of these areas. But recovering from six years of bonkers might take me a long time, at least that’s what others who’ve been through it have told me.

Another true story: I used to be one of those super annoying people who, when asked by others, “What do you do when you get creatively blocked?” would say, “I don’t ever get creatively blocked!” And, until a couple of years ago, it was true; I was a font of unending energy for my work and for putting ideas onto paper and canvas. So part of my work now is not comparing my new reality to my old reality. My work is accepting what is, and taking the process of regaining energy for my work one day at a time.

I am taking an active (rather than passive) approach to recouping a sense of excitement and inspiration. I have begun diving into new subject matter and revisiting old subject matter. I even went back to using a medium (gouache paint) that I haven’t used in years. I am trying to pay deep attention to what I want to make and less and less attention to what I think my audience might want to see from me. I made the move to get a second, larger studio space in which I can experiment on large surfaces and get messy.

So the good news is that I am beginning to feel a sense of motivation and inspiration again. I’ve started several new bodies of work and I’ve jumped wholeheartedly back into my sketchbook (I even changed the orientation of my sketchbook from horizontal to vertical as a new way of looking at things). I am also being extremely judicious about accepting opportunities for collaborations and projects going forward, all in an effort to create space and energy for my own exploration and innovation.

Part of me feels like telling this story is self-indulgent. Who should really care about my burnout? And I don’t honestly think anyone should. But maybe it can be useful as a tale of warning for those of you seekers out there who aspire “to have it all” as an artist. Working toward success can come with a price. So at some point, you may end up here too. Perhaps that many of us end up here is unavoidable. Maybe it is a normal part of the process: pushing the boundaries until you implode, and then rebuilding.

One hopeful thing I have learned: it is possible to ride a wave, hop off, and hop back on. It’s also true that some waves die, but new waves always come along for us. So now my work is figuring out when to hop on a wave, and when to hop off. Similarly, which waves to ride and for how long. And when to just lie on the beach for awhile.

On that note, happy 2017. I hope to be back here writing more next year. And I’ve got lots of other fun things planned. See you then.

(Side note: the illustration above is from my upcoming book, A Glorious Freedom, out October 2017 from Chronicle Books. There it will accompany an essay by writer Caroline Paul about learning to surf at 50.)

CATEGORIES: Personal Essays
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