Adam Kurtz


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Earlier this year, I got a friend request on Facebook from a super close friend of my good friend & surrogate-kid-sister Tuesday Bassen (who I interviewed here). His name is Adam Kurtz and he lives in New York. We had 18 friends in common and I noticed he is a fellow illustrator, so I hit “accept.”

In the months that have passed, I’ve gotten to know Adam through Facebook and Instagram, and I’ve fallen head over heals in love — not just with his wit and wisdom — but with his work in general. A few weeks ago, Adam sent me a package containing a bunch of his amazing products which you can see here. I then started reading his fantastic series on the Life & Business section of my friend Grace’s blog Design*Sponge and my crush got even more serious. Last week I sat down virtually with Adam and asked him about his childhood, his work and his voice as an artist. I present to you Adam J. Kurtz, the latest inductee in my Interviews with People I Admire series!


Lisa: Adam, I LOVE YOUR WORK! Tell us about you. Where did you grow up and what was your path to becoming an artist and designer?

Adam: Thank you, Lisa! That’s high praise coming from you (insert incoherent art crush rambling here, then a pause where I regain my dignity). I grew up in Toronto and have always been the “creative child,” which is code for “everyone always bought me art supplies for my birthday.” We moved a few times and I didn’t have a ton of friends in my early teens so I learned basic coding and built fan sites for fun. It was making and exploring those networks of people, just before social media was a thing, that kept me entertained. So I figured I should study graphic design in college, and that’s kind of how it went! Design is so much about organizing other people’s words and images in useful structures, and eventually I decided I wanted to make work that used my own voice. I like to think that’s the difference between art and design, really. Still, my art is all about functional objects. It’s a balloon, it’s a postcard, it’s a pin. It serves a tactile purpose beyond being nice to look at or carrying a message.


Lisa: One of the reasons I love you & your work is that you tell the truth. Also, you manage to be really funny in your honesty without being overly sarcastic or cutting or mean. Tell us about your “voice” —  and how you express it, not just your work, but also your presence on social media.

Adam: That’s my real voice! I’m kind of an idiot, lots of dad jokes and backhanded compliments. Life is big and scary, but small jokes and those shared experiences are what connects us to each other and makes it okay. The nice thing about being myself full-time (as opposed to making work under a studio of another name) as that I can be that person without worrying about being “off brand.” While there’s a legal difference between Adam J. Kurtz the human and ADAMJK the brand, it’s all still me.


Lisa: Your work is really conducive to putting on product and you make some amazing product. Tell us what it is about having your work on pins and pennants and balloons and shirts that makes you happy.

Adam: There is something very special about taking a mood or feeling out of your head and putting on a tangible object instead of a tweet or status update. There are a lot of people posting about feeling sad or alone. There are not a lot of people communicating that with a hopeful keychain. For me, it’s therapeutic to say what I need to say this way.

My “ADAMJK GIFT SHOP” is all about exploring what a “gift” really is. Why do we buy small trinkets to begin with? Sometimes we want to remember a place we were. Sometimes we see something that reminds us of someone we love. Sometimes we are feeling sad or happy and want to commemorate that feeling with an impulse buy. Other times we needed to get someone a present because of some holiday or occasion and then we “accidentally” keep it for ourselves. The items I make are simple, and generally inexpensive. I want their value to be defined by how they are selected and gifted to ourselves or others.

I’m not a fine artist, but I don’t consider myself a store either. I am an artist who wants people to easily own something they love. If I was wearing my pretentious glasses right now I’d tell you they’re “artist multiples” but I am wearing contacts today.


Lisa: Tell us about your new spots on Design*Sponge. I love them!! How did that come about and how much do you love working with Grace?

Adam: Writing for Design*Sponge has been so cool! Grace Bonney is a really smart and funny woman, and I wrote a guest post a long time ago thanks to another contributor, Sabrina Smelko. Grace and I became friends online, and I just kept thinking “wow, I totally agree with almost everything she has to say.” I guess it was mutual enough, because she suggested a monthly column.

I don’t consider myself a true writer (whatever that means????) but it’s been really nice to share some perspective in a fun and maybe unusual way. The response has been so great and I am happy to be a part of such a fantastic blog. Now I’m just embarrassing myself. I love you, Grace!!!!! Okay bye.


Lisa: Tell us about your book 1 Page at a Time. What’s it about?

Adam: 1 Page at a Time is a goofy little daily journal that asks you to write, draw, reflect, or act every day. Some pages are childish, some are straightforward, and some get weird or dark. The hope is that at the end of the year you have a time capsule of who you were, and you can see how far you’ve gone. It’s loosely based on my annual Unsolicited Advice weekly planners that I self-publish. An editor at Penguin found it on Kickstarter in 2013 and we met for coffee and it just… happened? It still blows my mind, and that was like three years ago.


There are a lot of journals out there. At first, many people compare 1 Page at a Time to Wreck This Journal, which I totally understand (and we share an editor). Then they’ll come back and be like “hey actually it’s kind of the opposite? I want to save this forever!” The title isn’t even subtle at all – this is totally about making it through, making it yourself, and coming out the other side. It can mark the beginning of a new year, a new journey, or a fresh start. Like a lot of what I make, I try to allude to mental health ideas without being too cheesy or clinical. This is a fun book, but it’s also a book that fucking gets it, because I fucking get it.

A fun part of the book is the hashtag throughout. People all over the world are sharing their pages online in several languages. Though the book reminds you that life is a solo journey and being alone with your thoughts shouldn’t be terrifying, we are also all alone together. My secret hope is that two strangers will find each other through their posted pages. What if people across the world fell in love because their outlook on life totally overlaps? What if two people got married????? Ahhhhhhhh!!!


Lisa: And you have another book coming out? Can you give us an idea about what it’s about and when it will come out?

Adam: I do! This first book has done well enough that Penguin is like “okay please make another book, we get it, you’re weird, that’s cool.” It will still have interactive elements, but it’s not exactly a journal either. It’s even more me than the first book. It’s darker, it’s more hopeful, it’s more honest, and I really want people to get it and be like “what the hell is this?” and then flip through and feel like they’ve found exactly what they needed in that moment. It’s hard for me to explain exactly what I’m trying to create because I’m still in the middle of it all.


Lisa: What’s the most fun or wacky illustration job you’ve ever done for a client?

Adam: Earlier this month I got to draw a ton of adderall, that was pretty great! I also do the menus for my local coffee shop in exchange for free drinks. It’s probably the best paying gig I’ve ever had.


Lisa: What kind of stuff makes you want to get out bed in the morning?

Adam: Almost nothing. Bed is the best.

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Lisa: Where can we find you on the Internets?

Adam: I’m @ADAMJK on all the good stuff!

Lisa: Thank you Adam!! Great having you on the blog today!

Friends, I’ll be back SATURDAY. Yes, Saturday! Confusing, I know, right? I don’t normally blog on the weekends, but I’m having a Small Business Saturday Sale starting Saturday so I’ll be posting some new items in my shop plus a discount code. So stay tuned for that!

In the meantime, have a happy Thanksgiving!


Are You Ready?



Since I launched registration for my upcoming eCourse I AM AN ARTIST I’ve gotten two main questions from people:

+Is this class right for me?


+How is this class different from your class with CreativeLive?

So here’s the skinny on both questions:

First, is this class right for you? Maybe.

First let me tell you who this class isn’t for. It’s not for people who have zero interest in building an audience for their work or making income for their work in some way. Let me also say that if you have zero interest in building an audience for your work or making some income from your work, that is completely fine. Any choice you make about your creative pursuits — how public or private you make them, your aspirations or lack of, your motivations — is valid and and good for you. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It is not a requirement to make money from your creative pursuits or to seek any level of notoriety for them. In fact, some argue that just takes the joy out of it. If that’s you, that’s fine. But that also means my course isn’t for you.

My course is for people who wish to not only make art a regular part of their life, but also to build an audience for their work and to make some level of income from it; it is also for people who are already making some income & have a small audience for their work, but who are also feeling stuck or wanting to take their pursuits to the next level and need new information and a good kick in the pants.

My course is for people who are willing to dig in to uncover where they might be stuck. If you take the course, you’ll learn a lot about developing your “voice” as an artist. We’ll not only talk about the importance of developing your voice (especially if you want to build an audience of people who connect to your work), but you’ll also learn methods for honing it that you can practice regularly. And, by the way, being stuck or insecure is a totally normal part of being an artist, so arming yourself with methods for breaking through creative blocks is super important. You might not be stuck creatively, but maybe you are nervous to put your work into the world in some bigger way because you are scared of what might happen (rejection, criticism, no one paying attention, etc, etc). And so this class is for people who are willing to look at their fears straight in the eyeballs.

My course is for people who not only want to dig into and work through fears and build their repertoire of tools for working through creative blocks; it’s also for people who literally want to get down to business — to think big about where they’d like to go as an artist, to hone into a few manageable goals, to take action immediately toward their goals, to learn and try new methods for sharing work on social media & bravely go after new opportunities. It’s for people who want to get organized and increase their productivity and level of discipline, even in the craziness of their lives.

That’s who my course is for.

Second, how is this class different from your course on CreativeLive?

It’s very different! First and most importantly, in I AM AN ARTIST, students will get personalized feedback from me. I’ll be inside the course environment, actively participating for the entirety of the three day class (during class hours). I will have personal interaction with all the students who enter the class forum or chats and ask questions about the content. I will be able to give solid examples that are specifically relevant to students in the class. I’ll be answering questions, giving feedback and encouragement and offering as much as I can to as many class participants as possible. That’s also part of why this class is over $300 and not $99: you get direct access to me & my experience. If that interests you, this class might be for you.

Conversely, during my recorded CreativeLive class, I was speaking live in front of 10,000 people for two days, standing on a stage, trying to get through all the material swiftly. In that class, it was essential that I covered a lot of information in two days that would apply to a lot of people, so I couldn’t go into too much depth or deal with students’ individual situations (except for a handful of people in the live audience).

I AM AN ARTIST will also be more intensive. We have three days, so we can really dig into the nitty-gritty of each topic. We will also be covering the important topics of fear and developing voice — which I only briefly mentioned in my CreativeLive class. Fear is the most common reason that people do not pursue an audience for their work or income for their work (even if deep down that’s what they’d like to do), and it’s often disguised as “I don’t have time” or “I am too busy with XYZ” or “I’m too old” or “fill in the ____”. If you have even small amounts of fear or insecurity about your ability to reach your goals — and you do not acknowledge or work with them — you will struggle mightily. Conversely, if you confront, get to know, befriend and work through your fears (because everyone has them), you will (as the quote above suggests) be astounded at what you can accomplish.

You can learn more about and register for I AM AN ARTIST here. Early bird price ENDS MONDAY. So grab your spot.


The Joy of Swimming: Off to Print!



Some of you who follow my work will remember that early last year I began working on a book about swimming. I’m so excited to let you know that book (published by Chronicle Books), titled The Joy of Swimming: A Celebration of Our Love for Getting in the Water, is off to print and available for pre-sale on Amazon! The actual book will be coming out April 19, and we’re beginning to plan a book tour that will take place during May, 2016. If you are interested in hosting an event for the tour in your city (or would like me to do a special event with your swim team or swimming group or at your bookstore), I’d love to hear from you! My budget for travel is small, but I’m hoping to get to as many places that month as possible.


{Some shots from the making of The Joy of Swimming}

The Joy of Swimming is a 144 page book chock full beautiful colorful drawings and photographs of some of the history, nostalgia, stories, and fascinating facts about one of our favorite past times: swimming! I also profile over 30 regular people between the ages of 11 and 92 for whom swimming is a daily ritual. Their stories are really amazing!

And what would a book about swimming be without dogs? Other images from the book, below.





Have a great Monday, friends! And don’t forget you can pre-order the book here!


I’m Hiring a Studio Manager!



Hello friends!

I’m excited to announce that Lisa Congdon Art & Illustration is hiring a Studio Manager! You can view and download the job description with full details (including list of responsibilities and qualifications, pay rate, approximate hours & how to apply) here. Please note that the job description will be removed after the application period ends at the end of the day on December 1.

More about the position:

We are hiring a part time, regular position working as the Studio Manager in my busy headquarters in Portland, Oregon. Responsibilities include general studio management, running online shop, managing supply & product inventory, research, marketing and email communication with clients, fans & collaborators. We are seeking someone who can provide strong administrative support and help us create a fun & highly functional work environment; we’d love someone who is highly-organized, independent, calm and confident.

We are looking for candidates with strong writing and verbal skills. We want someone who loves diving into the nitty-gritty and getting projects done. We are looking for someone who is helpful, has a positive attitude, and can remain calm and steady in an occasionally fast-paced, deadline-driven environment. The ideal candidate is extremely comfortable working with Google docs, Excel, Microsoft Word and has basic Photoshop skills.

Go here to download the full job description! Let us know at if you have any problems.

Have a great Friday and thanks so much!




Janine Vangool: The Typewriter



{Janine’s latest book: The Typewriter, 2015}

Waaaaay back in 2006, I became acquainted with a woman named Janine Vangool. She owned a small gallery, shop and graphic design studio in Calgary, Alberta, Canada called UPPERCASE. She wrote to me to ask me if I’d be interested in participating in a show in her gallery. I was a brand new artist at the time, and so of course I was thrilled she even noticed my work! And so began our relationship as colleagues and friends that continues today. You might be familiar with UPPERCASE because for the last six years, Janine has been producing one of the most beautiful magazines on the planet — UPPERCASE Magazine. She’s also the designer & publisher of a number of books, including my very first book: A Collection a Day, which came out in 2011.

I have long admired Janine’s design aesthetic and generosity, but what I think bonds us more than anything is that we are both collectors. We love old stuff. It’s what brought us together to collaborate on A Collection a Day, and it’s what brings us together today for this interview. Janine has just published one of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever laid my eyes on — and it’s all about one of her greatest passions: The Typewriter. Janine makes beautiful books, but this is by far her tour de force. It’s huge, chock full of hundreds of stunning images and historical information, and beautifully laid out and organized. If you love typewriters, this book is for you.

Today in my Interviews with People I Admire series, I present Janine Vangool!


{photo credit Heather Saitz}

Lisa: Janine, I am so happy to feature your new book on my blog today. Tell my readers about your publishing company UPPERCASE. You mostly work on publishing a quarterly magazine since 2009, but you’ve also published several books, including this new one. Tell us about how and why you started UPPERCASE.

Janine: I actually started publishing books before I launched the magazine. I had an art gallery and shop, called UPPERCASE gallery books & paper goods, that opened in 2005. I hosted exhibitions in the front of the space, sold other publisher’s books on art and design and also experimented in selling my own products such as greeting cards, sewn goods and handmade notebooks. In the back of the space I did my freelance graphic design for clients. After a while, I enjoyed the challenge of making and selling my own wares more than working for clients, so I began to focus on UPPERCASE. The first books I published were in conjunction with gallery exhibitions.

Old School was one of the early books and exhibitions. Inspired by the aesthetics of old fashioned elementary school, dozens of artists created artwork on the theme. I was happy to have your work in that show! All the artwork was published in a small companion book.

Another successful project was Work/Life, a directory of illustration that has evolved into a series of three books and counting.

I loved publishing so much that a magazine seemed like great way to keep the ideas flowing. UPPERCASE launched in 2009. The following year I had my son and closed the physical store to concentrate on the magazine and publishing projects versus retail.


Lisa: UPPERCASE has grown into one of the most respected independent magazines in the world. In the age of online magazines, why do people love to get, hold & look at UPPERCASE? What do you think sets UPPERCASE apart from other print magazines?

Janine: Thanks, Lisa! It is sort of strange to think about how much the magazine has evolved since 2009. It has surpassed my initial intentions and expectations in every way. It is such a privilege to still be publishing it nearly seven years on.

The one thing that hasn’t changed through it all is my love of print and so I’m always investing back into the magazine with excellent paper, fun printed features like foils, embossing, special glued-on items like fabric… I’ve also held steadfast to my belief that UPPERCASE will not ever be a digital magazine. Where other magazine might try to do it all with print, apps, digital versions, etc, I like to concentrate on what I love and know the best: ink on paper. If you’re the kind of person who strokes the paper and loves the smell of ink, then UPPERCASE is made for you!


Lisa: Let’s talk about your new book, The Typewriter. When we first met online back in the day, one of the things that connected us was our mutual love of collecting old, ubiquitous things. You collect many things, but one of your most famous collections are typewriters and typewriter-related things. What lead to this book and why did it feel like an important book for you to make?

Janine: I could credit our collaboration on A Collection a Day for leading me down the collecting path a bit more! I have always loved typewriters, but the machines themselves are so expensive and heavy and take up so much room. But like you, I love to collect things, so I switched my focus to the ephemera of typewriters and typewriting. So other than a collection of prettily coloured Royals from the mid-fifties, my typewriter collection is made of brochures, ads, tins and various small artifacts.

To justify my obsession with collecting these things, I decided to turn it into a book. These artifacts are so intriguing, they really do tell a great story through design and copywriting, about the evolution of modern communications, women in the workplace and of graphic design and advertising as professions, too.

The history of the machine is quite complex and I’m by no means a historian or academic, so The Typewriter book is intended to be a beautiful collection of notable graphics telling its story of the past century and a half.


Lisa: The book is filled with images and information about vintage typewriters. Tell us about the amount of research and image sourcing you had to do for the book. What was the process like? How long did it take?

Janine: Early on, I was collecting things simply because I like the way they looked. Once I decided to make a book and had an outline of topics, I searched out advertisements and things that could tell the story more completely. It was many many hours on eBay and online searches. The majority of what is in the book are things that I have collected, with the exception of some of the machines and more expensive things that are sources from other collectors.

Though collecting things began years prior, the book itself was a three year project that began with a crowdsourcing campaign. Thanks to hundreds of kind folks, I was able to raise enough preorders to fund the print run of the book.


Lisa: The book is divided by era. Which typewriter era is your favorite & why?

Janine: I enjoy the 50s, when colourful machines were sold in pink, turquoise, teal and mint. I’m still looking for a sunbeam yellow Royal to complete my collection! I love the glamour and style of that era. My dad also restores vintage cars from the 50s, so growing up I was influenced by that era as well.


Lisa: Inquiring minds want to know: how many typewriters do you own? Do you use any of them? How easy or difficult is it to find parts and ribbon for them these days?

Janine: I currently have a dozen machines, but some of those are on loan for the book project and I am just their current caretaker. I use my red Royal and turquoise Royal; they continue to work well. Fortunately, I haven’t had to do any major repairs and ribbons are available from online sellers.


Lisa: If someone is interested in purchasing your book or subscribing to UPPERCASE, where should they go?

Janine: I have a website just about The Typewriter, where folks can see previews of the book and see some of the artifacts as well. My various books, back issues and subscriptions are also available here.

Lisa: Thank you, Janine!

Janine: Thank you, Lisa!


Have a great day, friends!





Last year, I was at the book launch event for my business book for artists, Art Inc. I was signing books, one by one, and chatting with each person who came to the table. Two young women approached, with big, eager smiles on their faces.

“I am so excited about this book!” one of them exclaimed.

“Oh, thank you!” I replied.

And then I said, assuming if she was excited about my book it must be the true: “You are an artist!”

The young woman paused with clear hesitation. “Well, I do some graphic design…and I paint in watercolors, but…”

“So you’re an artist!” I replied matter-of-factly.

“Um, I guess so?” she said, her cheeks turning red.

I have long pondered why it is so hard for artists — especially women — to own their status in the world. It took me years to identify confidently as an artist. Why are we so hesitant – at least until we’ve graduated from school or until we feel we’ve “made it” or until we’ve hit some crazy apex in our careers — to proclaim, “I am an artist”?

Just the other evening I was with a group of women who I see regularly (all of us are established artists who make our full time living from our art). We get together monthly to draw and enjoy each others’ company. I brought with me to the get-together a new tote bag I’m selling in my shop and a few new notebooks to pass out to the women. These new products of mine are emblazoned with one of my favorite phrases: I AM AN ARTIST. I set the notebooks down on the table, and one of the women excitedly grabbed one. She looked it over and proclaimed, “I need this notebook! I sometimes have a hard time saying this out loud. This will be a good reminder.” For a moment, I was dumbfounded. This woman has made her living from her creative talents for her entire adult life. And then I realized that I would have said the same thing myself just a few short years ago.

I hear constantly from readers and followers and friends that, like I once did, they struggle with identifying confidently as artists. Some have no trouble calling themselves artists, but they have real doubts that they can ever make a profitable & sustainable living from their work. Some fear deep down that they don’t deserve success because they’re self taught or didn’t get started until later in life. Others believe they can’t claim their identity as an artist until they start making money from their work. And most just fear their work isn’t good enough.

For time immemorial society has seen artists as a different breed. We are “moody” and “temperamental”. We “starve” to follow our passions. If we are at all concerned with making money or if we do make money from our work – especially through commercial work – it must mean our intentions as artists are somehow corrupted or that we are not “real” artists. From all of this has grown the starving artist myth.

And, furthermore, most of us have been taught – either directly or indirectly – that if what we create brings us any reward at all (financial reward, a decent income, recognition, even industry awards) that this reward is fleeting. This notion that our endeavors as artists are built on a foundation of scarcity (which is no foundation at all) has permeated our society and our psyches.

Even some of us who do make a living from our art believe in some small way (or many of us in some big way) that at any moment it could all go poof! and disappear, that the people who pay for it today could go away tomorrow and pay for someone else’s work instead. And that is, in part, of course, because art is subjective. Our careers and our future careers as artists are based on whether people like our work, whether it becomes a commodity others want to own or pay us to create. We are always reminding ourselves that we could tomorrow starve, so we better be grateful for what we have today and hustle for what we want to achieve tomorrow.

Many of us spend a lot of time feeling like we are lucky at best and that if we are making money from our work we might not even deserve it. Even artists who have been at this for years and years (like the friend I mentioned earlier) may feel like “impostors” in this world, that at any moment they will be “found out” and exposed for not really being talented or legitimate.

This sense of impermanence, of treading lightly, of not knowing whether my future was secure, even after my work was in demand, has been a big part of my story. And I have come to learn from talking to scores of other artists that this an incredibly common story.

It has been 15 years since I first picked up a paintbrush. I spent much of that time feeling like an impostor. I didn’t study art or illustration formally in school. I did not follow traditional pathways to get where I am. A good part of what I do most days I taught myself how to do. I don’t even know most of the time if there is better or easier or more “right” way to do what I do.

And for that reason, I used to spend a lot of time feeling inferior; like for some reason I did not deserve the success I was experiencing. And worse than that: that’s what I feared others might think about me too.

But at some point, I decided, this is bullshit.

And that’s because I realized that these kinds of limiting beliefs and fears are damaging. They keep us feeling small and from expressing ourselves fully or living our best lives. While they feel real, they are just perceptions that we adopt from a culture that believes artists must struggle or that being a “real” artist is reserved for some chosen elite. These beliefs can also come from years of negative messages from people in our sphere of influence.

And so the next part of my story became my internal fight to think in broader, more confident terms about who I am as an artist and what I can accomplish — not just in the near future — but over my lifetime.

I began spending a lot of time reminding myself that regardless of whether this has all been luck or whether I have any talent isn’t what matters. Who cares about that? What matters is that I am happy getting up every day to paint and draw. What matters is that I make my best effort every day to be myself in my life and work. What matters is that I work really hard at my career. What matters is that I am thoughtful about the work I want to make and the people I want to work with. What matters is that once it started, making art for a living hasn’t failed me.

I have also come to own & embrace all of my experience, including my unconventional (and late blooming) path, including feeling like an impost0r, including my mistakes, including all of the less attractive parts of my story. Because all of those things, in addition to my hard work & my successes, have helped to make me who I am.

I am an artist.

If you can relate to any of what I’ve written here, you might be interested in my upcoming three-day eCourse, aptly called I AM AN ARTIST. Part of the course is designed to help identify and reframe negative or limiting beliefs that may be holding you back from your artistic dreams and goals. We’ll also delve into finding, honing & expressing your voice so that you can begin to more easily build an audience for your work. And we’ll cover key art-business building blocks — things like goal setting, workflow, task organization, email & social media strategy and seizing new opportunities. You can learn more about & register for the course here. Or join me this Friday 11/20 for a LIVE Q&A about the course! I am going to be doing a live broadcast on Periscope 12:00 NOON PST. Your questions about the course answered! Send your questions in advance to and I’ll include them in the live Periscope chat! (You must download Periscope on the App Store & follow @lisacongdon to watch live broadcast). Can’t participate in Periscope? Email me with your questions about the course at

Happy Tuesday.


New Notebook from Denik!



Friends, I am so happy to share with you the release of a new notebook from Denik.  What’s special about Denik is their mission and vision: For every product they sell, a portion of the proceeds goes directly to building schools.

This particular cover came from a design I drew in my own sketchbook earlier this year:


You can purchase the notebook here and visit my artist page on Denik here.

Have a great week!


Be You Tee is Back! In Kids Sizes Too!


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Friends, I’m so happy to let you know that my Be You design for Cotton Bureau is back! And this time we’ve got kids sizes, including onesies for babies! You can view all kids sizes & colors here to purchase.

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And you can view and purchase all the adult tees and sweatshirts here. This is the last time these guys will be on sale before the holidays so grab your gifts now!

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Have a great Monday, friends!



Portugal & Spain Sketchbook Spreads



“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai

Hello friends!

As many of you know, I traveled with my wife Clay to Portugal and Spain during the month of October. We had an amazing trip. You can see many of the photos I took in the six cities we visited on Instagram. Since we traveled between six different cities (and had two stops on our way to Portugal), I spent a lot of time on buses, trains & airplanes and at cafes drawing in my sketchbook. I think there is no happier place for me than being on a train in a foreign country with my headphones in (playing my favorite music, of course) and drawing! Nothing fills me with such bliss. Some of the trains were a bit bumpy, but somehow I managed to pull off some detailed spreads! Here are some of my favorites from my adventure. You can see more of my sketchbook spreads here.


{I made this spread at a cafe; it was inspired by all of the beautiful ceramic tiles in Lisbon!}



{Portugal was one of the most colorful and pattern-rich places I have ever been.}


{A sketch of the view from the Duoro River in Porto, Portugal}




{A rendering of the beautiful hillsides of Granada, Spain}


{The beautiful windows of Madrid!}




{And, finally, things I saw in the visually-rich city of Barcelona!}

Now that I am back home, I am settling into my routine again, to working, painting, keeping my life organized. I am also planning the content for my upcoming online course for artists, which I am very excited about!

Happy Thursday, everyone!


I Am an Artist eCourse Registration Now Open!!



Hello friends!

I am thrilled to announce that registration for my new eCourse, I AM AN ARTIST: TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR PATH TO A THRIVING CAREER, is now open!

This eCourse will run from January 8-10, 2016. It is designed for aspiring, beginning or more established artists who feel stuck or need a good push.

Whether you have been making art your whole life, are just getting started or work a full time job (or anything in between) this class is designed to help you take steps to make art your livelihood — full or part time.

Work alongside me intensively for three days as I guide you through live video, engaging reading material, interviews with fellow artists, reflection and planning exercises & tools, and a private community forum for feedback, discussion and questions.

This class will help you unravel where you are stuck (even the places you may not realize) and move past your fear and perceived limitations and into a thriving creative career.

Read a more extensive overview of the class (including what we’ll cover every day) here.

Register BEFORE November 30 and get the early bird price of $329 (after December 1 the price goes up to $399). Or grab one of five VIP spots here (includes an hour call with me the week after the class).

Questions? Check out our FAQ. Ready to register? Head over and grab a place in class!

Thank you and have a great Tuesday!



New Products in the Shop!




Hello friends! I am so happy to release today my next batch of products in my shop! Start your holiday shopping early because we expect these products to sell quickly, especially the limited edition poster. Today here’s what I’ve got:



This is my 2nd release of this 12×18 inch hand-pulled screenprinted limited edition poster, and this time we’re offering it in a sweet grey/brown color. There are only 50 of this edition in stock. Metallic gold ink on grey/brown archival quality French Paper Company stock. Once these metallic gold on grey/brown posters are sold, they will not be available again, so get yours today! Each poster is signed and numbered by Lisa. Each poster was printed by hand in a small print shop in Portland, Oregon, USA.

Print reads: “YOU WILL LEAVE A TRAIL OF STARS IN YOUR WAKE” and is the perfect gift for the super star in your life, including graduates, newlyweds and newborn babies.

These posters are shipped FLAT in a sturdy envelope protected by chipboard.

Get yours here.




I am also offering a set of three specially-designed blank Scout Books! Scout Books are offset printed with vegetable-based inks on 100% recycled papers. They are hand-crafted by a talented team of expert printers at their in-house print shop in Portland, Oregon.

These sharp pocket-sized notebooks have a kraft cover, white staples. The imagery on the patterned notebooks wraps completely around to the backs! They contain blank pages – perfect for sketches, notes, and bucket lists! They are 3.5″ x 5″ each and contain 32 pages per book.

Get your notebook set here.




Share with the world your passion by carrying this bold I AM AN ARTIST tote bag! This bag is made from 100% certified organic sturdy 10 oz. cotton canvas made in the USA. The bag is 18 inches wide by 15 inches high with a five inch gusset (bottom). One inch wide strap is long enough to easily throw over your shoulder.

This bag makes the perfect gift for yourself or someone you love.

Get yours here.


TOMORROW: Registration opens for my new online class called I AM AN ARTIST: TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR PATH TO A THRIVING CAREER (which will run from January 8-10, 2016). Stay tuned for an early morning announcement & links to register!!


Reviving the Living and Dining Rooms



{The living room in our 1898 Portland Victorian}

As many of you know, my wife Clay and I moved 7 months ago to Portland, Oregon. We mostly moved here to be closer to my family (my sister and parents have lived in this city for years), but in the process, we also had the opportunity to buy our first decent sized house together — something we couldn’t afford to do in the Bay Area of California. Last June we purchased a 2000 SQFT 1898 Victorian on a corner lot in the heart of the Kerns neighborhood. We loved this house instantly when we first walked in — it has enormous windows with fantastic light, a wonderful flow and beautiful high ceilings. It is surrounded by trees and just a short block from a beautiful park. But it also needed a lot of TLC, and we began quickly to make renovations. So far we have finished the downstairs half bath, which you can see here. And just last week we finished the living and dining rooms (more on that in a moment). We still have a long way to go (the complete renovations will take years), but it feels really good not only to be making progress on fixing up the place, but also to be nesting. Clay and I are both homebodies. We love to cook and clean, to organize, tinker and hang out at home.


{Looking down on our Eames coffee table}

When we moved into the house, I connected immediately with my friend Kate at Rejuvenation to begin helping us pick out some new fixtures and furniture. They house hadn’t been updated since the early 1990’s. In addition to lighting and some other accents, one of the things we needed was a new living room sofa. I wanted something modern, but I also wanted something that would reflect the old feel of our Victorian house.


{Living room arrangements of some of my favorite things}

One day Kate invited me to visit the Rejuvenation salvage warehouse (which is also the location of their 87,000-square-foot U.S. based factory). And while I was there I spotted a simple 1920’s vintage sofa, stripped down to its bare bones, and fell in love. I think Kate could see the adoration in my eyes, and so she suggested that we collaborate with Leland Duck of Revive Designs — a partner with Rejuvenation — to reupholster the beautiful old piece for our home. I quickly agreed. For the record, here’s what the piece looked like before:


Shortly thereafter, Clay and I went to North Portland to meet with Leland of Revive Upholstery & Design and his wife Chelsea in their new showroom and workshop to discuss what we’d use to give the piece a new and modern look. I’m not sure what I expected when I walked in, but I didn’t necessarily expect to see a young couple! So I asked Leland how he learned to reupholster furniture so beautifully (his showroom and workshop were filled with really gorgeous stuff he’d worked on). I learned that day that her learned the art of reupholstering by working on vintage cars as a teenager. In his early twenties this unique skill, combined with his keen eye for the good bones of cast-off furniture and love of historically significant fabrics, led him to creating one-of-a-kind chairs, sofas, ottomans, and pillows that are far greater than the sum of their parts.

In the newest segment of their partnership, the gurus from the Rejuvenation Salvage team have scoured antique shows, flea markets, and vintage dealers across the country rescuing rare pieces and trucking them back to Leland’s skilled hands. The result is a truly original and one-of-a-kind collection of furniture finds, each with a unique story to tell. I felt so lucky to have this furniture find and so honored to be working with Leland to make it new again!

After our initial meeting, we decided on a subtly textured blue fabric (I’m really into blue these days!). I went off to Hudson New York for my residency, and Leland set to work on transforming our new sofa. When I returned from Hudson, he came over to drop it off, and I was thrilled with the results!


Leland’s work was impeccable, and we adore the white accent stitching. That’s a vintage Chinese textile hanging on the back of the sofa and the beautiful pillow is by Anna Joyce.


We also replaced the former light fixture with a new globe pendant hanging light from Rejuvenation (which we love) and which you can see below. Trio of prints hanging on wall by Katherine Jalaty.


We also worked with Jen Garrido of Jenny Pennywood to purchase some yardage of her beautiful screen-printed fabric to cover the cushions on our vintage side chairs. The bold pink flower pillows by print maker (and my best friend) Jen Hewett. The abstract paintings are by me.


We also got a fabulous new light fixture for the dining room — a Cobalt Blue Butte Dome Pendant from Rejuvenation, which you can see below. We think it’s the perfect match to our blue accents and Danish dining furniture.


More from the dining room:


To celebrate the opening of their new showroom and workshop, Leland and Chelsea of Revive are hosting a grand opening party from 6-11 pm tonight at 2030 N. Willis Blvd in Portland. I will be there and if you enjoy Leland’s work, I hope you will check it out too! Drinks! BBQ! Live music!

From my home to yours: have a great weekend & happy nesting.




Introducing: The Craft Industry Alliance



Friends, I am so happy today to tell you about a new trade organization for makers, suppliers, designers and professional bloggers. It’s called The Craft Industry Alliance, and their mission is to exist as a source of industry information, creative inspiration, and community for craft professionals. Their goals include helping members:

+Stay current on industry news, trends and opportunitues

+Make connections with other small business owners

+Develop viable business models

+Achieve profitability

+Run their businesses according to their own standard of ethics

+Membership gives you access to three different kinds of benefits.


Membership in the organization comes with benefits designed to help makers build and sustain profitable businesses. Here are some benefits to membership:

1. The Journal

Craft Industry Alliance members receive a subscription to our bi-weekly, professionally written, digital journal packed with craft industry news and analysis, and articles that address the business issues most important to craft industry professionals.


2. The Community

This is my favorite benefit: Craft Industry Alliance members have access to a vibrant online community of industry professionals through their secure, online forums and specialized groups. Connect, collaborate, and get your questions answered! Members can use the classifieds to find what they need or offer their own services.


3. The Resources

Each issue of the digital journal comes with a printable or tool you can download and use right away. Over time these will build into a library of business resources just for members. You’ll also get access to webinars with legal, accounting and other professionals (this is one benefit I’m also super excited about!).


Joining Craft Industry Alliance is an investment you’ll be making in yourself and in your business. I joined today and I am super excited to be part of this new alliance of makers.

A big thank you to founders Abby Glassenberg and Kristin Link for their amazing work to on behalf of makers everywhere!

Join today.


Lea Redmond: Knit the Sky




Hello friends and happy Tuesday! I am back from my trip to Spain and Portugal, and I am so excited today to share an interview with a really amazing artist and maker.

A few years ago when I was still living in San Francisco, I discovered the work of Lea Redmond (pronounced “Lee”). She was setting up one of her World’s Smallest Post Services at a local shop in San Francisco, and I popped in quickly to check it out. Lea became famous for her teeenneeee weeeneee letters (see below), hand scripted and sent through regular mail; periodically she would set up a live letter-making desk where she created the tiny letters specially for folks who passed by. Shortly after seeing Lea’s work for the first time, I got a surprise email from her asking if I wanted to hang out. A few weeks later, we got together to talk about our mutual love for art, crafts and books at a local pie shop. At that first meeting, Lea began telling me about a book she was beginning to concept — a book all about knitting from patterns that guide you through recording your experience (and not from a traditional knitting pattern). Think of it as a journal of your life, not with a pen and paper, but with knitting needles. That book, thousands of hours and hundreds of balls of yarn later, is finally with us! Knit the Sky: Cultivate Your Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting was released recently by Storey Publishing. And it’s illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators. the amazing Lauren Nassef.

I sat down virtually with Lea recently to ask her all about her background, her new book and her approach to creativity. Lea is one of the cleverest & smartest women  I have ever met. I think you will enjoy her too, and so I present to you Lea Redmond in my Interviews with People I Admire series!


{Lea holding some of her tiny letters, which she creates with her own hands and a magnifying glass!}

Lisa: Lea, tell my readers a little bit you. Who are you? How did you get started as a maker, as a knitter? What are some of the things you have done before Knit the Sky?

Lea: I have loved making things since I was a wee one. As I grew up, the pinch pots and puffy paint t-shirts of elementary school turned into the wheel-thrown teapots and hand-knit sweaters of high school. And then I largely tucked away my art supplies as I fell in love with ideas at my little liberal arts college, and busied myself with books and writing. My mother was a Montessori preschool teacher and my dad a scuba diver. Combine those influences with some clay, yarn, Thoreau, and Heidegger, and I think that sums me up pretty good.

Back in 2008 I did a quirky art project called the World’s Smallest Post Service in which I set up my tiny post office (wooden roll-top doll desk and all!) around town and transcribed letters for passers-by. I would then send the itty-bitty missive to their recipient with a magnifying glass. To my surprise and delight, people really loved it! I wasn’t trying to start a business, but this project quickly turned into my creative studio, Leafcutter Designs, that offers all sorts of thoughtful objects and playful gifts like Seed Money, Recipe Dice, and Letters To My Future Self.


{Lea reading from her book Knit the Sky}

Lisa: Your new book Knit the Sky: Cultivate Creativity with a Playful Way of Knitting is different from any knitting book I’ve ever seen! Describe how this book is different from most (or any) knitting books out there and why it was an important book for you to make & put into the world.

Lea: My book offers a way of knitting that is full of adventure, stories, and personal meaning. It’s not instead of typical knitting patterns; it’s simply a compliment to them. The best way to explain is with examples. In one scarf project, you observe the weather and add one stripe per day in yarns that match the color of the sky out your window. In another project, you collect gumballs from machines around town, and the order in which they dispense determines the order of the stripe colors. In yet another, you knit a cowl in the spirit of the moon, which can then be worn to match the current moon phase.

Typically a knitting pattern provides step-by-step technical instructions, charts, and photographs that guide you to make a particular garment in a particular size. These patterns are wonderful, beautiful, and extremely helpful. Pattern design is tough work and I’m so glad there are great designers providing excellent technical guidance for all of us yarn lovers. Most of the playful concepts in my book work just fine with very simple garments, like garter stitch scarves or simple hats, or you can combine them with more challenging patterns by your favorite designers.


Lisa: How do you hope this book changes people’s experiences with knitting? Or elevates their experience of creativity in general?

Lea: What excites me most is the idea that knitters might read my book and be inspired to knit something that is infused with the unique details of his or her own life. Knitting in this way is almost like keeping a journal. It’s a chance to reflect on life, honor someone important to you, celebrate something, be curious about a place, etc. It’s of course lovely that we end up with a beautiful garment, but that’s almost beside the point for me. In the end, I’m most interested in the experience along the way—the adventure that is the process. (Though I will admit that I truly love that we get to keep a souvenir!)

And even thought Knit The Sky is full of ideas for knitting, I think folks can read it and apply this way of thinking—as well as the particular concepts in the book’s projects—to pretty much any medium of life. Read the book and knit a scarf, or maybe just read the book and plan a dinner party! This way of working goes across medium and—ha ha—the sky is the limit!


Lisa: What is your favorite project or set of exercises in the book and why?

Lea: The “Mood Ring” project is one of my favorites, probably because the mindfulness involved in making it has the potential to be extremely powerful. Inspired by those dime-store mood rings of childhood, you knit yourself a cowl that tracks your emotions for a month. Each color represents a group of emotions and then every day you take some time to reflect on your inner life and add a few colors to the cowl that match how you’ve been feeling that day. Since you can see the colors from previous days and weeks, reflecting on them might inspire you to change how you spend your time or how you react to various situations, thus affecting your future mood and stripe colors.


{The work of Illustrator Lauren Nassef}

Lisa: The illustrations are by Lauren Nassef and they are stunning (I am a huge fan of her work!). Why did you select her as your illustrator? What mood did you hope she would be able to capture?

Lea: I agree! I am overjoyed with Lauren’s illustrations for the book. I feel so lucky and grateful to share the pages with her. I was first drawn to Lauren because of her quirky, whimsical compositions. I want to live inside some of her drawings! She takes everyday objects and phenomena and adds a little twist that sparks curiosity, wonder, and delight. I also love her careful, intentional line work. The knitting projects in Knit The Sky are creative and playful, but they are also extremely thought out and full of intention. To me, Lauren’s work with pencil and brush embodies a similar sort of care.


{Illustration from Knit the Sky}

Lisa: How did you accumulate all the project ideas in the book? Were these ideas you’d been collecting and trying out over the course of years? Or did it happen more recently than that? Did you test them out first (either yourself or with others) to make sure they would work well?

Lea: I first posted my “sky scarf” pattern online back in 2008, so the book is really the slow accumulation of ideas since then, plus a big surge at the end! To dream up these projects, I basically just look around, then maybe read a book, and then look around some more. I find most of my creative inspiration in the details of everyday life—in noticing the extraordinariness of the ordinary. The projects in Knit The Sky are inevitably a reflection of my own life, which is why I included a section at the end about how to invent your own project based on your own life. I can’t wait to see what people dream up!

The projects in the book with trickier elements (like knitting hexagons or the butterfly pattern stitch) were tested by me and the folks at Storey Publishing before the book went to press. There are indeed a few full patterns included (for a basic hat, scarf, cowl, socks, etc.), but this knitting book is vastly less technical than most. My hope is that people mix the concepts with their favorite patterns, or even make up their own!


{from Knit the Sky}

Lisa: If people are interested in getting to know you and what you do better or in sharing or learning from you, where can people find you online or in real life? (this is where you get to talk about your newsletter, any online places, classes, events, etc!)

Lea: For Knit The Sky related news and events, find me at There, we have a calendar of book tour events and workshops I’m teaching. You can find yarn kits to go with some of the projects and can also sign up for the Knit The Sky newsletter. I post whatever I’m currently knitting on Instagram: @lea_redmond. You can find my playful goods and other creative studio work at, on IG: @Leafcutter and on Facebook:

Lisa: Thank you Lea for sharing your genius with us!

Hope everyone has a great week.


I’m Off to Portugal and Spain!


Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 7.07.45 AM

I just wanted to say ¡Adiós! I am leaving for a three week trip to Portugal and Spain! I will return back to regular programming on November 2, 2015. I will be documenting my trip in drawings and photographs over on Instagram and you can follow me there. When I return I’ll post highlights from my trip here.

I am incredibly excited for our adventure. We will visit Lisbon, Porto, Sevilla, Granada, Madrid and Barcelona.

Have a wonderful month and I’ll see you over on Instagram while I’m away from the blog!