Many of you who follow me on Instagram already know this, but I’m happy to officially announce that my wife Clay and I are moving to Portland, Oregon at the end of March!

Clay will be leaving her position as Director of Marketing at California College of the Arts & I am thrilled (beyond words) to announce that she will be joining me at Lisa Congdon Art & Illustration as Head of Marketing and Operations.

Since most of my beloved family is in Portland (sister & brother-in-law, niece, nephew & parents), it has been like a second home to me for 15 years. Clay and I are enormously excited for the opportunities Portland brings, including being close to family, the promise of more affordable home ownership (we’ve got an agent & are currently on a home search), strategic development of my business, connecting with friends & making new ones, enjoying the great outdoors, and taking part in the incredible creative community there.

It goes without saying that this departure is bittersweet (says the girl with the word California tattooed on her arm). But we could not be more ready or more elated for our new adventure. We’ll see you soon, Portland!

Photo by the amazing Sarah Deragon.


On Getting Older



A couple of months ago, my friend Karen asked me if she could photograph me for a new project she was starting in which she would profile women over forty who were thriving; to accompany their photograph, each woman briefly describes what thriving means for them. It is called The Thrive Project.

I agreed and a few weeks ago when we were both in Salt Lake City for the Alt Conference, Karen sat me down and took my picture with one of her film cameras. That photo is pictured above.

I get my picture taken a lot, so I am used to seeing my image, but for some reason this particular photograph struck me when Karen sent to to me for my approval. It hit me hard how much I’ve aged physically in the past 10 years. Hello, grey hair & laugh lines. I am, after all, forty seven years old, so all of that is age appropriate. But for a moment, I was taken aback. I am getting older and it’s showing.

As with many of the hard realizations we make in life, we can either fall into a deep depression about the things over which we have no control or we can embrace them. And at that very moment, I took a deep breath and said, I am going to own this.

And then I realized another thing: that despite the sprouting of grey hair at my temples and lines on my face, I have never felt younger or more energetic or excited to get up every day than I do today. Never, ever, ever. I am, indeed, thriving — more than I ever have in my forty seven years.

And so I began to embrace this image of myself with the lines on my face. And a couple days later I posted it on Instagram — without a filter or anything that would disguise the stuff that I might normally try to camouflage. And I expressed how the image had hit me when I saw it for the first time. Lots of people commented, relating and expressing their delight with the light in the photo (Karen is a fantastic portrait photographer).

My sister, who is two years younger than I am, commented on the photograph by posting this quote by the inimitable Frances McDormand, which moved me greatly:

“Looking old…should be a boast about experiences accrued and insights acquired, a triumphant signal that you are someone who, beneath that white hair, has a card catalog of valuable information.”

I am a self-described late bloomer. If any of you have heard me give a public talk in the last couple of years you’ve heard me tell stories about how I did not begin drawing or painting until I was 31, and how I did not begin my art career in earnest till I was 40, and how I did not get married till I was 45. I didn’t get my first tattoo till I was 28 (and I get my 13th tattoo in two weeks) and did not dye my hair pink for the first time until I was 41. Every year older I become, I get braver and freer. Getting older has, for me, been the best, most liberating process.

Yesterday I was recording a podcast, and while telling my story, I pronounced my age. My interviewer jokingly said, “Aren’t you supposed to keep that a secret?” The woman interviewing me is 50, and so she was being sarcastic, of course. But later on we got to talking about why I am so open about my age. It’s something I hadn’t thought about much before, but I suppose it’s part of how I own my unique path. I am in the same place in my career that some illustrators are when they are 30. Instead of being ashamed of that (I did get a late start, after all), I am owning it. And I wouldn’t redo my life in any way, even if I could. I think it’s important for people to know there are all kinds of paths, and all kinds of ways to live a life, and all kinds of things you can begin as you age.

And so here I go, leaning toward my fifites, hair greying, wrinkles gathering, experiences accruing, insights accumulating, joy abounding.

To view & follow along with Karen’s entire Thrive Project as it grows, simply go here.

Have a great weekend, friends.


2014 :: Some Things I Learned



It’s the last day of 2014, and over the past few days I have been reflecting a lot on the past year. I just finished reading Lena Dunham’s new book, Not That Kind of Girl, in which she recollects on what she’s learned so far as a young woman in her late twenties. I wonder if (and hope) she’ll continue to write memoirs. Because every decade (every year, in fact) we (and by we I mean YOU and ME, all of us) — if we are conscious human beings — learn more and more about what matters in life, about acceptance, about humility, about how to be ourselves and so many other things.

For some context, in two weeks I turn forty seven years old. Here are some things I have learned at forty-six:

1) Not everyone will like me or my work or my process or what I have to say, and that is okay. I am beginning not to care as much, and not because I have any plans to be lazy about kindness or treating others with respect. I realize that usually the reasons people don’t like you or your work have nothing to do with whether you are a kind or good person anyhow.

2) All of that said, I have also learned that, for the most part, most people are good and kind. And it is goodness and kindness that matter most. So I choose to surround myself with good and kind people.

3) I can survive a difficult experience. In 2013, I went through something quite traumatic — the most traumatic in my life, in fact. And it did not destroy me. In fact, I am better for it. What I learned made 2014 much richer in ways I could not have imagined.

4) I like being married. A lot. I am so grateful for marriage equality and what it has done for me and for my gay and lesbian sisters and brothers everywhere.

5) I can’t do it all in my career. Choosing the stuff I like to do the most and the stuff that brings me the most satisfaction (even if it’s not the most lucrative and even if it means I have to say no to prestigious opportunities) is what makes me happiest in the end.

6) That said, I don’t ever want to stop trying new things as an artist, expanding my practice, pushing myself, experimenting, keeping my everyday world exciting and new.

7) Life is not perfect and it will never be. Understanding that has changed me.

8) Showing up everyday and doing the work is what will get you to your goals and dreams as a creative person. Also: success does not happen overnight. Even once opportunities begin to arrive, being an artist/designer/writer/maker continues to be hard work every day, so you must find love in it and be dedicate yourself to enjoying the process or you will be miserable.

9) My unique path as an artist & my work are legitimate and worthwhile. And so are yours.

10) Nothing matters more than the present moment. Worrying keeps us stuck in the future. Lamenting keeps us stuck in the past. Today is for living.

And with that may you truly live every day of 2015.

Happy New Year!

With gratitude,



Happy Holidays & Thank You!



{Above, white gel pen on black paper, 2014}

To everyone who comes to this blog: thank you. My career as an artist would not be possible without you and others who buy, commission, share, write about, and otherwise support the work I do everyday. I feel very grateful. Thank you, thank you!

May you all have a wonderful holiday!

Stay warm and cozy and have a happy Wednesday!


2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: A Recap



If you’ve been reading this blog for the past year, you may recall that in January I made a goal to consume less. As part of that goal I allowed myself new clothes for the year if I a) made them myself or b) bought them second hand. As a result, I started a little project called 2014: A Sewing Odyssey, and you can see all of the projects here. In a moment I am going to report on how I did with that goal.

But first, let’s review the sewing projects from the odyssey, pictured above, left to right in order. There are few things to notice: 1) I like dresses 2) my hair grew longer over the course of the year 3) Wilfredo appears in three photos and 4) I got new glasses this month! You can’t tell here but my sewing skills & attention to detail also improved exponentially. But the most important thing to notice is that that was honestly NOT a sewing “odyssey”. While I intended to make many more than eight new articles of clothing (and #5 was a vintage upcycle at that), I just didn’t have (or make) time with my busy work schedule to sew as much as I planned. So maybe not an odyssey (Sonya Philip’s 100 Dress project was more of an odyssey). However, it was a) more than clothing than I’ve ever sewed before and b) I’m hooked. And those two things feel great.

Now to report on how I did with my goal of consuming less by not buying any new clothing this year (my goal was to make new clothes and buy only used). With a few exceptions, I stuck with it. I did buy a handful of brand new clothing items, mostly a couple of workout clothing items which I use almost every day and leggings & t-shirts that are harder to find in good condition second hand. I also bought one new dress for a special occasion. Overall, though, I purchased fewer articles of new clothing than I have in one year since I was a poor college student. I did buy lots of vintage and used clothing, so I did get to happily satisfy my shopping appetite.

So what does 2015 hold?
1) More sewing. I love making my own clothing, from choosing patterns to finding the perfect fabric and notions. I love the process of sewing and the satisfaction of making things I can use. I also want to try more altering and restructuring of vintage like I did in Project #5.

2) A new sewing machine. I did purchase a serger and it has been helpful (and opens up so many options for me). But I do think if I want to cut down on frustration I need a new general machine that doesn’t give me problems every 10 minutes. This is something I didn’t discuss here, but I had regular fights with my sewing machine, which my mother generously handed down to me 10 years ago when she got a new one. Perhaps its time to invest in my own brand new machine? Saving my pennies.

3) Starting in January, I’ll make one new article of clothing with each print from my new line of fabric from Cloud9. I’ll be posting more about that fabric line  soon, along with sewing projects using my new line over the course of the year. Stay tuned for that!

Thank you for following along, friends.

Have a great Tuesday!