Embrace the Abyss Talk :: Now Online




Many of you have been asking about the talk I’ve been giving over the last couple of months called Embrace the Abyss and Other Lessons, and a recording of it is now online. This version was recorded last week at TYPO International Design Conference in San Francisco, where I gave the talk for the last time (I’ve also previously given versions of the same talk at the Nevada Museum of Art in February and at as the keynote address at Craftcation Conference in early April). Here it is (gulp) with all its imperfections. It’s about 42 minutes. Enjoy.


New York Book Signing & Class



New York friends! I’m coming to you! Two events:

1) Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at Makeshift Society, Brooklyn, I’ll be teaching my professional illustration class (see below for more info). You can sign up here.

2) Thursday, May 22, 2014, also at Makeshift Society BK, a book signing party for Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. At that event, copies of my book will be for sale, I’ll be signing and there will be beverages and treats! I hope you will come! See the flyer above for address & other info. You can RSVP here on Facebook.

More about the May 21 Professional Illustration Class in Brooklyn:


I am teaching a professional practice class about being an illustrator –including information on the life & work of the freelance illustrator, different illustration markets, and tips on how to successfully promote your work to garner consistent, fun, paying illustration & licensing work. This particular class is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (at Makeshift Society) on May 21 from  7-9 pm. You can sign up here.

Space is limited, so sign up early!

Have a great Monday!


Pattern of the Week!



Introducing Arches — this week’s repeat pattern (seen here in two difference versions).

Tomorrow I am off to TYPO International Design Conference, where I am speaking on Friday. I’m taking tomorrow off from the blog, but am going to check in Friday about the conference, so stay tuned!

Have a great Wednesday, friends!


Building a Creative Brand is Back!



I’m excited to let you know that Creativebug’s Building a Creative Brand online course is back for a second time! The class covers the fundamental aspects of building and elevating your creative brand — from finding the essence of your brand and business basics, to licensing and book publishing. If you are an aspiring creative and are just starting out, this is a great basic class.

To learn more about the class & to sign up, just go here.

You can also watch this handy trailer to learn more!

Have a happy Wednesday, friends!


Pattern of the Week!



This week’s repeat pattern is made from drawings of one of my favorite things to draw: succulents! If you take my basic line drawing class (which is available if you subscribe to Creativebug), one of the lessons is all about drawing succulents. (BTW: there is no start or end time to this drawing class so you can take it at any time!)

I plan to make a few more patterns from succulent drawings over the coming weeks, so stay tuned for more.

Have a happy Friday and a great weekend.


On Trying New Things & Learning From Others



{my first official watercolor painting, made in class last night!}

Last night I took my first ever watercolor class with the amazing Emily Proud. I have written about Emily here before both here and here. I originally met Emily because she came to work as my assistant in 2012. And from there we grew into fast friends. Emily has transitioned into full time art-making in the last few months, and as part of her journey as an artist, she’s begun teaching watercolor classes at Makeshift Society in San Francisco. I’ve been itching to take one of her classes since she started teaching them last year, both because I admire Emily and her work and because I have been wanting to integrate watercolor into my work in a more concerted way. So I was really excited about last night’s class.

I had no idea what to expect from the two hour session, but I was hoping to get some concrete tips. Every time I’ve attempted to paint in watercolor before, I’ve been sorely disappointed with the results. The colors weren’t mixing quite the way I wanted, I had too many brush strokes, on and on. I had always assumed watercolor was really similar to gouache (a medium I use all the time). But I learned quickly it acts very differently!

In the matter of two hours, Emily took us through a series of exercises and demonstrations that addressed (without her knowing) almost every frustration I’d previously had with watercolor. It was the best $60 I’ve spent in a long time.

I am one of those artists who loves the idea of trying new things. But, like many people, I am also afraid of “failing” (I put failing in quotes here because, in truth, I really don’t believe there is such a thing as failure in art-making). I am easily frustrated when I try something new and then it looks nothing like what I’d hoped. And so I often give up.

I am realizing more and more that sometimes it pays off to cut to the chase and take a class instead of flailing around aimlessly in my studio or at my coffee table. Let’s face it — how many times have we bought expensive new materials to try out a new technique or medium only to see those items collecting dust months or years later, because we didn’t have the skill or knowledge we needed to put them to good use? Sometimes it works to teach yourself, sure (I have based most of my career on teaching myself new things); but learning from “experts” (even in a short two hour class or online tutorial) speeds up the process and helps cut through so much of the irritation we might experience experimenting with stuff on our own.

Watching Emily paint last night, watching her talk about how she chooses her brushes, watching how she approaches building up her paintings — gave me so much insight about how I might be a more successful user of watercolor paints myself (she’s an excellent teacher). It also made me realize how much more practice I need. But instead of frustrated practice, I now look forward now to informed practice.

As Abigail Adams once wrote: “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Happy Thursday, friends!


Interwoven is Back!



You may recall last year I told my readers about Interwoven, an online class taught by my friends Lisa Solomon and Katrina Rodabaugh. Well, Interwoven is back, and it’s better than ever. The class covers four textile-based projects (soft sculpture cloud mobile, crochet, embroidery, and a mini quilt project) over eight weeks. Each section will include a complete step-by-step tutorial to create a finished project. The class also includes exclusive artist interviews, video tutorials, possibilities for altering the techniques, and more. It’s jam packed.

On behalf of Lisa and Katrina, I am offering a special 10% off code SPECIALFRIENDS if you sign up!

Learn more about the class and register here.

Happy Monday!


Whatever You Are, Be a Good One :: Book Signings!




You may recall that my latest book Whatever You Are, Be a Good One will be released April 1! I’ve got a few book signings scheduled and I hope to see you there. Here’s what I’ve got lined up so far, so mark your calendars!

SAN FRANCISCO: West coast book launch party and signing
Thursday, April 24, 6-8 pm
Rare Device, 600 Divisadero Street, SF

OAKLAND: Book signing and meet ‘n’ greet
Saturday, May 3, 1-2:30 pm
Nathan & Co. 5636 College Avenue, Oakland

NEW YORK: East coast book launch party and signing
Thursday, May 22, 6:30-9 pm
Makeshift Society, 55 Hope Street, Brooklyn

LOS ANGELES: Book signing and print show
Saturday, June 14, 5-8 pm
Poketo, 820 East 3rd Street, Los Angeles

TBD: Portland, OR, July 2014 (stay tuned for more info!)

As I schedule additional signings I’ll keep you posted! If you are registered for Craftcation Conference in April, I will be signing books there as well.

Have a happy Thursday.


Professional Illustration Class in SF :: June 4




Friends, I am teaching a professional practice class on being an illustrator –including information on the life & work of the freelance illustrator, different illustration markets, and tips on how to successfully promote your work to garner consistent, fun, paying illustration & licensing work. This particular class is in San Francisco on June 4 from 6:30-9 pm, but I am also planning to teach one in New York City in May, so stay tuned for an announcement on that. You can learn more and register for the San Francisco class here. The class will not be taped or live streamed (we are not set up to do that), so attendance at the class is necessary to participate.

Space is limited, so sign up early!

Have a great weekend, everyone!!


Embrace the Abyss T-Shirts




As some of you know, I spoke at the Nevada Museum of Art on Wednesday. The local AIGA (who sponsored my talk) made these awesome t-shirts with the title of my talk emblazoned on them (hand lettered by me, of course!)! I’m happy to announce that they are for sale and you can get them here while supplies last!

Have a happy Friday and a fantastic weekend!



Craftcation :: Keynote Speaker!




I’m excited to let you know that I’ll be giving the keynote address at this year’s Craftcation conference in Ventura, CA on Thursday evening, April 3! I’ll also be sitting on several panels and doing a book signing for my current books. Craftcation is is a four-day conference featuring industry professionals who lead attendees in lectures, panels & Q + A sessions on creative small business, along with teaching hands-on craft and food workshops. The conference is put on by Nicole Stevenson and Delilah Snell, and it takes place in the beach town of Ventura (about an hour north of Los Angeles). This list of this years teachers and presenters is AMAZING. Check it out here. I am so thrilled to be taking classes and attending some of the panels myself.

To learn more about the classes and events at Craftcation and to register, visit their website!

Hope to see you there!

And happy Thursday!


New Line Drawing Class Starts March 4!




Friends, I’m thrilled to share the class I taped with Creativebug last year — and it begins a week from today! The class, called “Line Drawing with Lisa Congdon” is a super basic line drawing class for beginners. And the great news is that subscriptions at Creativebug are now only $9.95 a month, which is a steal (and you have access not only to my class but hundreds more).

The class is five weeks long, and includes instruction and activities in basic line drawing, creating patterns with lines, working on ephemera like photos, and basic block lettering. Once a week I do a live chat with the class where you can ask questions and interact with me. Still wondering if my class is for you? Watch this little video. And you can go straight here to learn even more and sign up.

You can also watch this trailer to learn a little bit more about me!

Have a great Monday and hope to see you in class! Don’t forget to register here!


Upcoming Talk :: Embrace the Abyss




I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving a talk sponsored by the Reno/Tahoe chapter of the AIGA at the Nevada Museum of Art on Wednesday February 26! The talk, entitled Embrace the Abyss and Other Lessons, will explore some of the important things I’ve learned in my journey as an illustrator and surface designer. You can purchase tickets here.

I’m also speaking this year at the TYPO International Design Conference in San Francisco. More on that soon! You can get tickets to TYPO here.

Happy Thursday!



Lisa Kokin :: Upcoming Mixed Media Class



As many of you know, Lisa Kokin is one of my favorite mixed media artists. Those of us who live in the Bay Area are so lucky, because Lisa teaches regular classes out of her studio in El Sobrante. You may remember that I took this class from Lisa earlier this year. It was an incredible experience, and so I am really excited to take this more extended series of classes from Lisa beginning in January: Reuse Muse 2014 with Lisa Kokin // 
Words / Letters / Fragments + Recycled Materials.


If you are interested in getting into (or expanding your experience in) book arts, collage or sculpture, this is a fantastic opportunity! Here’s more from Lisa about this series: “The class, taught in a series of six-week sessions, will focus on the use of words, narrative (linear and non-linear), letters as a design element, found and appropriated text, invented alphabets, and the numerous ways that words and letters can be used in art to create both narrative and image. Books, collage, and sculpture are some of the forms that the work will take. Weekly concept- and materials-based assignments will provide a structure and can be followed to the letter, as it were, or interpreted loosely and broadly or, if another path presents itself, not used at all. We will look at the work of a broad range of contemporary artists who use words and text in their work for inspiration and context. A spirit of curiosity, spontaneity, and openness will be encouraged. 

The class will nurture a spirit of curiosity and risk-taking, which emphasizes process as well as product. Critiques are both supportive and challenging. All levels of art experience are welcome!


Lisa is an experienced teacher and also one of the kindest, most generous artists I’ve ever met. There are a few spots left and I hope you will join me!

Six Wednesdays
January 15 – February 19
1:00 – 3:30 p.m.
$495 tuition
Some supplies included
Open for registration
Space is limited!
Go here for information on how to contact Lisa to sign up.


Happy Monday, friends!


Creativebug Classes Coming in January!



{photo of the video screen yesterday as I shot my third class for Creativebug}

If you follow me on Instagram you know that I spent the last two days recording a series of four line drawing classes for Creativebug. My classes launch in January, and they’ll cover both basic line drawing techniques and some cool projects you can make yourself.

I want to thank the entire staff and crew at Creativebug, especially the amazing people I worked with directly over the past few days: Courtney, Eric, Matt and Brian. Special thank you also to Ava, Alexi, Fernando and Kelly. You are all some of the most enthusiastic, most kind, most patient people I have ever worked with. You made what would normally have been a really stressful experience (sitting in front of two cameras for two days) so much fun.

If you want to get a taste of Creativebug, I recommend taking a gander at their existing classes. They offer a subscription membership or you can take classes ala carte. Last month they also launched a class on building a creative brand, of which I was a part. You can learn more about that class here.

Happy Wednesday, friends.