New Creativebug Class :: Geometric Paper Collage

10/28/14

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For those of you who love creating collage, you may be excited to know that I’ve launched a new Creativebug class today called Making a Geometric Paper Collage! In this new class I teach you how to create a small collage with six pointed stars made from paper, like the one pictured above.

If you have a Creativebug subscription, you are all set — go ahead and watch the course! If not, you can either buy a class ala carte or sign up for a monthly subscription (a bargain at 9.99 a month!).

Learn more about the course (including the materials you need) and buy the course here. And in the meantime, you can watch this little video about all of my Creativebug classes! See links on my sidebar to the right to go to the Line Drawing Class (which includes hand lettering and photo doodling) and also Painting an 8-point Star.

Have a happy Tuesday!

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On Owning It: I Am An Artist

10/23/14

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About two months ago, I was at the book launch event for my latest book, Art Inc. I was signing books, one by one, and chatting with the folks who came to the table. Two young women approached, smiling widely.

“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 must be 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.

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

I have wondered for a long time 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’ve “made it” — to proclaim, “I am an artist”?

And so it made perfect sense to me that the first chapter of my book, Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist, be dedicated to the notion of claiming our identity as artists.

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. 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, recognition, even industry awards) that this reward is fleeting. This notion that our careers are built on a foundation of scarcity (which is no foundation at all) has permeated our society and our psyches.

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 make. We are always reminding ourselves that we could tomorrow starve, so we better be grateful for what we have today.

No matter how we came into the world of making or selling art, we all 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.

So 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 a lifetime may feel like “imposters” 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 it’s an incredibly common story.

It has been 14 years since I first picked up a paintbrush. And I spent much of that time feeling like an imposter. I didn’t study art or illustration formally in school. I did not follow traditional pathways to get where I am. Most 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 then 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 imposter, 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.

For more on owning your identity (and potential) as an artist, see my book, Art, Inc. or my online class Become a Working Artist.

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The DELVE Toolkit

10/16/14

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I love hearing about new resources for artists, and I was really excited recently when Sara Jones showed up at an event I had in New York and introduced herself to me. She is one of the founders of Kind Aesthetic, an creative agency who helps artists create a visual, written and emotional representation for their practice or business. One of their services is the DELVE Toolkit.

The DELVE Toolkit for artists & creatives offers personalized, one-on-one, professional guidance to visual and performing artists, creative entrepreneurs, crafters and makers to help them best communicate what they do, get (and stay) organized, and achieve their professional goals.

What you get:
+personalized direction and weekly assignments
+hours of one-on-one conversation plus email access to Kind Aesthetic
+the drive and focus from two professionals who truly care about your success
+honest, clear feedback
+constant, steady motivation and manageable tasks
+confidence, accomplishment, self-reliance and new amazing work habits and skills

You can set up a free 20 minute consultation by emailing hello@kindaesthetic.com

You can also read more about the toolkit here.

Have you taken my Become a Working Artist Course on CreativeLive or read my book Art Inc? The DELVE Toolkit sounds like fantastic followup support and action to get your art career moving.

Happy Thursday.

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Portland, YOU Are Awesome

10/13/14

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This past week I spoke two different times at two different events for 2014 Design Week Portland. I have always known Portland is a special place. I have been going to Portland for visits for the past fifteen years. Several members of my family, including my sister and parents live there, and I have loved that town from the beginning. But the experience of the last several days brought a new level of love and appreciation to my heart. So many incredibly kind people, well organized, sold-out events, and good beer, food, smiles & hugs.

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Thursday I spoke at the Design Week HQ in Pioneer Square (which happened to be a geodesic dome). I was in conversation with Namita Wiggers, former Director and Chief Curator for the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, and also friend and inspiration, now freelance curator, writer and big brain. We talked about my path, how I’ve used the Internet and my mulch-disciplinary approach to making a living as an artist. Thank you to everyone who came out to hear us talk, and for all the great questions I got and interest in what I do. It was all very heartfelt! A special thanks to Namita and PDW organizer Kate Bingaman Burt for inviting me to do this event!

Then, this past Friday evening, I gave a talk about my work in general & my sketchbooks to a crowd of over 200 people.

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The event was organized by the amazing Yvonne Perez Emerson and Scott Baker, founders of WeMakePDX.

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Here I am with my wife Clay and Yvonne at the party following my talk. I have been working with Yvonne to prepare for the event for almost nine months, and I cannot say enough about her energy and enthusiasm, not just for my event, but for supporting and being part of the Portland creative community.

Thank you, Portland, for making me feel so welcomed!

Have a great Monday, friends.

 

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Become a Working Artist on CreativeLive!

10/06/14

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Last week I taught a two-day intensive class on CreativeLive called Become a Working Artist (and thank you to my student Alexa Heung for capturing the photo above). You can now purchase the 22-video class on CreativeLive for $99. The course includes hours upon hours of content, tips and exercises you can watch at your own pace (once you buy the course, you own it forever). You can read reviews of the course, watch a preview and see all the topics I cover right over here.

Thank you to the entire crew at CreativeLive who worked on promoting, recording, streaming, and producing my class, my three special guests (Carrie Lederer, Lisa Solomon and Betsy Cordes), my hosts Chris and JKO, and my entire in-studio class (all 17 of you!). And thank you also to those of you who tuned in all over the world to listen, learn and participate. It was a really wonderful experience. Here is a photo of the crew and my in-studio students after we wrapped last Wednesday.

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Become a Working Artist, now available for purchase. And, as always, there is my book, Art Inc, a great companion to the class.

Have a great Monday, friends!

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Author Event with Three Amazing Women

09/29/14

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Friends, I am so excited to tell you about the book tour for authors Betsy Greer, Leanne Prain and Kim Werker. These three amazing women have all published really fantastic books in the last few months and are going on a tour together around the US & Canada. The tour, called Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity and Activism starts this week in San Francisco. I’ll be moderating a panel discuss with these three women at Diesel Books in Oakland this Thursday evening, October 2 at 7 pm. The event is FREE and open to the public. Their books will be for sale and they’ll be signing books after the discussion.

The authors: Betsy Greer, author of Craftivism: The Art & Craft of Activism (published May 2014), Leanne Prain, author of of  Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles (published October 2014), and Kim Werker, author of Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty (published September 2014). Among other things, we’ll discuss the intersection of craft and activism, the “ugly” side of making stuff.

Not in the Bay Area to come on Thursday? Here’s a list of all the events associated with the book tour around the US and Canada:

10/1: Booksmith, San Francisco, CA, Rena Tom moderating. 7:30PM.

10/2: Diesel Bookstore, Oakland, CA, Lisa Congdon moderating. 7PM.

10/3: MakeShift Society, San Francisco, CA, hands-on workshop. 6:30-8:30PM, $45.

10/5: Tillamook Station, Portland, OR, hands-on workshop hosted by Maker’s Nation as part of Design Week Portland. 11AM-1PM. $45.

10/5: Powell’s City of Books, Portland, OR, Kate Bingaman-Burt moderating. 7:30PM. Part of Design Week Portland.

10/6: Seattle Creative Arts Center, Seattle, WA, Marlo Miyashiro moderating. 6PM.

10/7: Hot Art Wet City, Vancouver, BC. 7:30PM.

10/14: Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, ON, Amy Singer moderating. 5:30PM.

10/15: University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, Garth Johnson moderating. 7:30PM.

10/16: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, Meighan O’Toole moderating. 7PM.

10/17: Brooklyn Craft Company, Brooklyn, NY, Sabrina Gschwandtner moderating. 6:30PM.

10/18: MakeShift Society, Brooklyn, NY, hands-on workshop. 1-3PM. $45.

10/20: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, Nora Atkinson moderating. 5:30-7:00PM. Free ticket required.

Have a great Monday!

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Art Inc. Lives Among Us!

09/26/14

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Thank you to everyone who has expressed excitement over reading Art Inc. I never get tired of your photos on Instagram. Tag them #artinc and with my username @lisacongdon. I’m collecting them as we go!

Whether you’ve picked up the book or not, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching a free live online class this Tuesday and Wednesday (September 30 – October 1) through CreativeLive. It’s called Become a Working Artist, and I’ll cover things like self promotion, managing your time, understanding the fine art, illustration and licensing worlds and selling your work online. You can RSVP for the class here, and if you aren’t available to watch it while it’s streaming live, you can purchase it to watch later here also.

I also want to give a shout out to the students and alumni at California College of the Arts where I’ll be speaking at their Building an Artists Life 2014 event today on the Oakland campus.

Have a great weekend and happy Friday!

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On Becoming a Working Artist

09/23/14

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Yep, sometimes I feel like a bit of a maniac, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In 2001, I took my first painting class. I was 31 years old, and looking for something to fill my time outside of my job at an education non-profit. I was slightly nervous. I hadn’t taken an art class since I was a kid. I didn’t even take art in high school or college. I was creative, yes, and I sewed and made crafts at home. But an artist? No way. Would I enjoy it? Would I be any good? I had no idea.

That painting class changed my life. Not in a big explosive way. And not overnight. But it set me on a trajectory that led to what I do today. Fifteen years later, I am a working artist. At first it was a hobby — a hobby that gained momentum and grew exponentially as I grew artistically and as I began to share my work on the Internet, which was relatively new at the time. Then several years later, in 2007, I left my job and began my self-employed life.

Along the way, there was no guidebook for me. I was self taught, and I’d never gone to art school. I was intimidated by the art world and had no clue about the worlds of illustration or licensing. Even selling my work on a platform like Etsy (also new back then) felt overwhelming. But over the course of time, I asked a lot of questions to whoever would listen and I read as much as I could. I tried new things. I kept a blog. As awkward as it felt, I began to spread the word about what I was making through all the ways that were available to me — in hopes that people would buy it, or want to hire me for an illustration job, or ask me to be in a gallery show.

And for a few years, all that effort felt frustrating. Stuff happened (the sales, the illustration jobs, the shows), but it came slowly. My income didn’t add up to as much as I wanted or needed. But the art-making part was so fulfilling to me (in a way I had never experienced) that I kept at it, with the hope that some day I would hit a tipping point and begin to make a regular, full time income as an artist. I was determined.

And then at the end of 2010, I hit my tipping point. And for the last four years I have been in a place of opportunity — sometimes so great that it is as overwhelming as the frustration I felt when I was first starting out. In the course of a few years, I went from starving (not literally, of course) to thriving.

On that path, I learned many things about what worked and what didn’t. I began to write them down. And in 2012 I began to work with Chronicle Books to write Art Inc: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist, which came out this past August. In this book I wrote about all the stuff that I did that led to a steady income, steady work, and an abundance of opportunity so that I could share that information with other artists who are just starting out. I also interviewed almost 20 people — successful artists, agents and gallery owners — on their perspectives about what it takes.

This September 30 – October 1, I am teaching a two day intensive online class through CreativeLive called Become a Working Artist. The class is based on Art Inc, but goes deeper, and will cover things like goal setting and action planning, the nuts and bolts of selling your work, demystifying the worlds of illustration, licensing and fine art, promoting your work successfully and managing work flow. My goal is to give people who are interested in making a living as an artist practical information that will help jumpstart or enhance their process. Whether you are interested in making a full or part time living, this class will give you concrete information to help you on your path. If you watch the class live, it’s free. Or you can watch it later (and take your time with the content) for $79. You can RSVP for the free class (or purchase it now) here.

I hope to see you there.

Have a happy Tuesday!

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SketchXchange & Book Signing

09/22/14

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{what I drew on the airplane flying home from NY yesterday}

I have written here before about my love for filling the pages of my sketchbook with whatever is living in my brain. Whenever I have a free moment, which lately has been while I am flying on an airplane, I grab my sketchbook and get to drawing.

On Friday, October 10 at 5:30, in Portland Oregon (Portland area friends, this one is for you), I am giving a talk at Leftbank Annex as part of Portland Design Week and WeMake Portland’s sketchXchange & Design Week Closing Party events.

I’ll be talking about my approach to my sketchbooks and sharing images of my sketchbooks. Every attendee with get a FREE Scoutbook with my design and will have the chance to enter to win a huge set of Micron pens (courtesy of Sakura of America). At the event, I’ll be selling & signing copies of Art Inc. and Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. And I’ve got a discount code for tickets, so scroll down if you are interested!

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I am offering my readers a discount on the ticket price — which includes not only my talk at 5:30 but also the awesome party & art show that will follow! The code is wemakefriends – enter this code for 50% off when you purchase your tickets here.

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{what I drew on the airplane flying to NY last week}

On WeMake’s blog today they’ve posted a little interview I did with their founder, Yvonne.

Hope to see you at the event!! Happy sketching!

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Pattern Camp with Jessica Swift

09/11/14

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Friends, I am so excited to tell you about a new class about learning to make repeat patterns being offered by my friend and pattern designer Jessica Swift! It’s called Pattern Camp
and it’s an online e-course that will take place on October 11-12.

If you dream of learning how to make repeat patterns but are unsure of where and how to begin, this course is for you! Throughout the 2-day online workshop you will learn to design repeat patterns in both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and Jessica will start from the beginning. No prior knowledge of how to use either program is necessary — beginners are absolutely welcome!

Videos, tutorials, and live Q+A’s will guide you through the tools, techniques, and tricks to get you quickly on your way to proficiency in the programs + creating your own beautiful patterns. Jessica is a fantastic teacher.

If working through the course in 2 intensive days doesn’t jive with your schedule/life/time zone, you can absolutely work through the lessons at your own pace. You’ll have access to the website and all the lessons for one full month and won’t miss a thing!

Good news: the course is only $159 through Sunday September 14 (regularly $189). Register here!

Back tomorrow with my Friday post.

 

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New Creativebug Class :: Geometric Painting

09/11/14

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Today my next class at Creativebug launches! In this new class I teach you how to paint an eight-pointed star.

Play with shape and color as you learn how to make one of my iconic star paintings. In this class, I’ll show you how to draft an eight-pointed star with a template, and then you’ll tape off sections and paint clean, crisp shapes. I’ll also demonstrate how to mix acrylic colors to create different shades for a striking final piece.

If you have a Creativebug subscription, you are all set — go ahead and watch the course! If not, you can either buy a class ala carte or sign up for a monthly subscription (a bargain at 9.99 a month!).

Learn more about the course (including the materials you need) and buy the course here.

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Have a happy Thursday, friends!

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In Conversation with Design*Sponge 9/17

09/08/14

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New York City friends! I’m super excited about my Art Inc. book launch party next week at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn on Wednesday, September 17. Come listen to Grace Bonney (aka Design*Sponge) and me talk about building a career as an artist, followed by a social hour (with wine!) and a book signing for Art Inc. You can RSVP for the event here. Hope to see you there!

Can’t come on this night? I’m also speaking the following evening at CUE Art Foundation in Manhattan. Or come to both events! Info on that event here.

Have a great Monday!

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Portland, I’m Coming for You!

09/03/14

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Portland friends! I’m headed your way October 10!

I’ll be giving a talk and signing books as part of Design Week Portland at The Leftbank Annex. My talk is part of WeMake Portland’s monthly sketchXchange (I’ll be discussing how I approach my sketchbooks), and will be followed by a book signing for my new book Art Inc, the closing party for Design Week (which includes tons of fun activities & live music) AND the Put a Bird in It Show!

My talk is at 5 pm sharp, so get there early for a seat. Oh, and I’ll be giving away a pack or two of Micron pens to a lucky winner or two (from the audience)! I’ve also designed a 5×7 inch notebook which Scout Books is generously donating to everyone who attends.

You can purchase the ticket for the entire event here.

Hope to see you there, Portland friends! It’s going to be super fun.

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New Online Class: Become a Working Artist

09/02/14

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Friends, I am so excited to announce a new online class I’ll be teaching through CreativeLive starting September 30. It’s called Become a Working Artist. In the two-day class we’ll cover:

+Embracing yourself as an artist and mapping your future

+Setting actionable goals

+Understanding the fine art world

+Developing your business’s personality

+Promoting your work successfully

+Making money selling your own work

+Understanding the worlds of illustration and licensing

+Preparing for and managing success

The class is FREE if you watch live on September 30 and October 1 between 9-4 pm. It will also be available for purchase after the live taping for $79.

Want to participate in the live class as part of the studio audience? We are still taking applications. You can apply here.

The class text book is Art Inc. (order that now if you plan to participate) and you’ll also receive a workbook with extra tools and information.

Hope to see you in class! RSVP today!

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I’m Giving a Talk in New York City

08/25/14

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New York & NY Area friends: I’m giving a talk in Manhattan on September 18th at 6:30 pm called I Am An Artist: On Ownership & Other Enterprising Acts. This talk at CUE Art Foundation (on West 25th Street) will be followed by a book signing of Art Inc & cocktails. Space is limited and you can purchase tickets here (free to CUE members!).

Hope to see you there!

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