I’m Off to Portugal and Spain!


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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!


Illustration for Joie De Vivre Hotels



As an illustrator, sometimes I get to make art for really cool clients. Recently I did an illustration for the amazing Joie De Vivre Hotels! Let’s call them JDV for short. I love travel and rendering city icons, so this job was a treat for me.

My illustration was focused on four of the most popular JDV locations: California (they have hotels in both SF and LA), Chicago, Miami and Honolulu. The very first JDV hotel was the iconic, super funky Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco, which opened waaaaay back in 1987 (where I actually spent some time sitting by the pool in my 20’s!). I also stayed in a JDV hotel on the final night of the AIDS Lifecycle (which I rode in 2012) and in another JDV hotel on my wedding night! I’m obviously a fan. Today JDV comprises the largest collection of boutique hotels in California, and they also have  locations in Washington D.C., Chicago, Miami, Honolulu and Scottsdale, Arizona.

I loved working with Joie De Vivre on this illustration. They are not only a company with a very cool brand of hotels, they are also company who has their own super cool blog (with fantastic imagery) called Joyride (I also love the name!). You can also follow them on social media for all of their latest info:  Twitter (@JDVhotels) // Instagram  (@JDVhotels) // Facebook

Speaking of a joyride, I am off on Monday to Portugal and Spain for a few weeks. Tomorrow will be one of my last blog posts for awhile! But you can follow along on my adventures on Instagram!

Hope you are having a great Thursday!


Scott Patt // Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.



{Scott Patt in his studio}

You may recall back in January of 2014 I wrote about a new daily year-long project started by artist and designer Scott Patt, called “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” Scott started that project in an effort to engage in a more meaningful and deliberate creative experience — one that captured his everyday thoughts and experiences. That project continued for the course of 2014 (he worked very hard not to abandon it, despite its intensity) and it ended up exploding not only into a life-changing experience for Scott but also a massive body of work, a book, a gallery show in New York, a short documentary, among with many other exciting things and new collaborations in the works. I caught up with Scott recently to do an in-depth interview with him about how the project grew and evolved, what he learned, and how it changed his life forever. Scott — and all of the ways he approaches his work — are hugely inspiring to me. I think they will be for you too. I am so honored to have him as my next Interview with People I Admire.

Without further ado, Scott Patt.

BSF original paintings collage

Lisa: Scott, first tell us about the daily project you started in 2014 called “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” What is it and how did it come to be? How many pieces did you end up making in the collection? Where did you post them? What was the reaction to the project over time?

Scott: Before “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” was bigger, smaller or even funnier the project began as a desire to sketch, ideate and work more consistently. I needed a way to challenge the art that I was making to be more meaningful and have an outlet that would easily allow me to incorporate the everyday thoughts, ironies, emotions, and experiences that I often ignored because I was too busy. I wanted a vehicle that was less perfect and with less pretense to allow the work to become an extension of my natural self. Work that would connect more broadly and deeply to others because of its honesty about the way we live and the things we all experience on any given day.

The result is “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” a year-long painting-a-day project that documents our shared life experiences by exploring everyday concepts such as purpose, love, faith, ego, relationships, sex, dependency, and genuine (but hard-earned) happiness. Every day in 2014, I ideated, sketched and painted an original conceptual painting. A new piece was virtually exhibited each morning via social media and 100 Limited Edition archival prints were made available for sale on scottpatt.com. Over the 365 days, 369 paintings were created from a palette of 8 colors and thousands of ideas were conceived in over 800 pages of 7 sketchbooks. Thousands of votes were cast and hundreds of prints were sold. The culmination of this massive body of work was a socially curated physical exhibition at Winston Wächter Fine Art in NYC informed via “likes,” print purchases and favorites from throughout the year-long project.

you waving at me

Lisa: Tell us about your sketches. Did you sketch out every idea in your sketchbook before taking them to final in the project? Or did you just go for it sometimes? What was the ideation process like and how did you decide if something would “work” or not?

Scott: Most of my gallery artwork prior “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” had evolved into painstaking Finish Fetish meets Conceptual Art. My work was super-clean, glossy, highly produced and pristine. Out of self-preservation I desired a project and process less precious and raw. I just wanted to make work without the usual layers of production involved. That being said, I’m a thinker (I mean over-thinker). I love to mull things over and explore the relationships between the visual and the verbal of a well-thought-out or even ridiculous idea. The sketchbooks of these explorations became ritualistic visual diaries prospecting daily happenings via spontaneous yet obsessive color studies, compositions, alliterations and notes on their way to becoming paintings.

Every morning I would wake up, and write in my journal documenting events, ideas and feelings from the previous day. I wouldn’t overthink it. I would just write and whatever or wherever it went is what it was. I also began taking obsessive notes about things and observations that would catch my attention. In the afternoon I would come back to my writings and highlight words or phrases that would trigger a mental image or an idea. Then for the next 2-3 hours I would sketch on those concepts playing with images and/or typography until I reached something that really made me smile or things hit a dead-end. I would often draw in public places because working in solitude every day would prove to be a lonely endeavor. More importantly sketching among others was incredibly inspirational and could be highly entertaining. I liked to go down to the harbor, sit outside with my sketchbooks and eavesdrop on the tourists as they talked about their lives. Overhearing the conversations of the recently reinvigorated can lend great perspective to the pettiness, humor and irony within our own lives as well as reinforce the universality of our concerns and struggles. And it wasn’t a bad way to inspire a piece or two.

lover loving lovers love

Having to ideate, sketch, paint, post and commercialize a piece a day was exhilarating and exhausting. Even though I knew there were pieces that “worked”, trying to choose a piece each night to paint, my ego, self doubt and fear of failure would conspire towards safety and indecision. Even at piece #364 I remembered laughing out loud because it never got easier. Every evening after sketching I would take photographs of the concepts I liked best to help me physically edit away from the cacophony of the sketchbooks. This was particularly helpful in sorting through the best of the best ideas as the project progressed and hundreds of pages of sketches piled up. There were many a night that I would send texts of sketches to friends or sit with my wife Lisa to go through the sketches to help me pick a piece for the next day. The repetition and pace of the project would leave me exhausted and paralyze my decision-making. No matter how tired I was though it was always fun to see which sketches would make her laugh out loud or which pieces friends would respond to (or not). I would not have made it through “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” had it not been for the tireless support of my wife and my good friends.

I also liked to select sketches for paintings based on the day of the week. Having worked in the corporate world for 20+ years, every day has always seemed to have a particular feeling attached to it. Monday’s always felt like a ball buster so I’d post something to give others a good push or laugh to get the week going. Wednesdays were usually about getting over the proverbial “hump”. Fridays required a little something to instill the spirit of the weekend, where as a Saturday and Sunday were more contemplative. I always liked the idea of some random guy in an office flipping through their Instagram and making them laugh or inspiring them to think a little differently about their day.

sun shade shadow

Lisa: Thank you for that description of your process. I think sometimes people assume artists just sit down and draw whatever is on their brain. But it’s usually so much more than that, and you are evidence of that. I love that you share your documentation too. Let’s talk about your background. You are a graphic designer and artist, both. Talk about the intersection of graphic design and your own personal “artistry” & sense of humor in the works in this collection.

Scott: I’ve had a pretty rich experience regarding the intersection between art, design and life. I went to school with the intention of becoming a doctor and became a graphic designer (insert joke here). My career evolved into product design, specifically footwear design while I was at Nike and concurrent to it all I’ve been a visual artist. For me, the long and short of how they all relate (or not) is that Art is not Design and Design is not Art but they share similarities. Design, whether it’s in the form of Advertising, Graphic Design or Product Design is about solving problems. A great Design solution should help make your life better. Similar but different, Art can solve problems by provoking questions and exploring everyday issues from the physical and social to the psychological. In both realms there are many ways to arrive at a solution but that’s where Art and Design part ways. Design needs to work to be successful and for Art what “works” can be relative. That’s the magic.

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{observers interacting with Scott’s larger pieces at his culminating show}

“Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” wasn’t and still isn’t concerned about whether it’s Art or Design but more importantly about connectivity. Life can be a lonely endeavor. What better than to connect to others who are like-minded and share in the experience. At the opening reception for “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” at Winston Wächter Fine Art in NYC it was amazing to see how the work resonated with so many people, young and old in so many different ways. It simply proved that our stories, experiences, needs, concerns, etc… transcend generations and it’s something we all share. Our similarities are greater than our differences. For me, when the work resonates with others that’s when the world gets smaller, and life gets more purposeful.

Humor also began to play a large part throughout the project. I had always been really insecure about the inclusion of satire into my work because of the fear of it being perceived as sophomoric or unsophisticated. But I quickly realized that humor, irony and wit was my way of processing and presenting subjects that are far more complex than just a surface level quip (and it’s a hell of a lot more fun).

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{observers interacting with Scott’s larger pieces at his culminating show}

Lisa: You mentioned that this project was one of the most transformative things you’ve ever done. First, tell us about what you thought you might get out of the project when you embarked on it. Then, tell us how it was transformative for you.

Scott: For better (and worse) I have an active imagination so of course I thought about all kinds of “what ifs” for the project but I did myself the courtesy of focusing on simply making work every day. My work and my process were feeling rudderless and doing more of the same thing staring at studio walls was not going to get me anywhere new.

bsf_factory photo

One of the early and driving forces for “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” was revealed when I had started doing 3” x 4” sketches several months before its inception. Like most life changing things it was already there, it was just waiting to be discovered. On a December afternoon in 2013 while searching through 20+ years of photographs to inspire some new ideas I came across an old photo I took on an overseas footwear design development trip. It was of a mural on a factory wall that read “BIGGER. SMALLER. FUNNIER.” It brought me back to the day I had taken the picture and the humor in its lost in translation meaning as an inspirational imperative. As I sat there staring at the photo 14 years later, the message had a profound simplicity in relation to my new quest; Do more of the good stuff, less of the shitty stuff and the joy will follow. So that’s exactly what I did and the project quickly had a name, a mission and I had a new philosophy.

What was most transformational about the project is how the unrelenting daily pace changed my process for making Art. At the beginning of “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” creating a piece a day was like falling in love with someone. I was gaga for the project and it’s all I could think about. A reservoir of thoughts, ideas and sketches flowed freely fueled by the energy of a renewed sense of purpose. But like many relationships, honeymoons can be short lived and then the real work begins. I distinctly remember laughing to myself after an exhausting first week when I realized I would have to do it again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that for 358 more days. Or the daunting task every time I had to prepare up to a dozen pieces in advance of work consulting trips sometimes even bringing my painting supplies and scanner to paint on the road. The ceaseless appetite of the project combined with outside responsibilities and demands forced me to evolve my creative process. Never before had time seemed to pass so quickly. There was no space for perfection and preciousness as daily deadlines loomed.

#319 self abosorbed (for color)

A little less than half way through the year on piece #144 I had a revelation. Because of the project’s appetite for content, I was forced to source the material closest to me; my own everyday experiences, stories and happenings. I mined years of life-changing personal adventures, photographs, collected ephemera and alliterations that have filled my head, shelves and storage containers for years. Without being conscious of it I had achieved one of the things I had set out to discover. Through the velocity and pressure of the project, my work was being directly informed in real-time by every day life. I was listening better and observing more. The little moments that make life great were the moments that were creating the art. In 2014 these moments showed up for me 369 times; from the California desert, to a barber shop, waiting for the next wave, to the passing of a loved one, from my 4 year old niece, during a never-ending meeting and in a saying on a factory wall. What may sound incomprehensibly obvious to some (especially to creatives) is that I realized that art is not a passive companion—Art is in the living.

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Lisa: How did the gallery show  and book with Winston Wächter Fine Art in New York come about?

Scott: I had intentionally not projected expectations on the results of “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” (O.K., maybe a couple projections). But it wouldn’t be until I had completed almost 100+ pieces in 4 months of work that I saw the potential of what was unfolding for the project. When I called my gallery partners to let them know what I was working on, Winston Wächter Fine Art was really excited. They loved the story, the use of social media, the democratization of the work, and of course the Art. They welcomed the inclusion of the analytics from the social media “likes” to inform the curation of the physical show. Out of 369 original paintings, we curated and framed 166 of the most socially liked and purchased pieces (with a couple personal favorites thrown in). As well, I transformed 14 of the top paintings into larger works accompanied by 2 new sculpture series.

BSF studio shot

Lisa: I remember early on in the project — maybe a few months in — you were struggling a bit and you emailed me to ask for advice about how not to give up on and how to stay engaged with it.  And that’s because drawing or painting something every day for a year is a really huge challenge. How did you approach it when it started to feel tedious or boring or stressful? And what advice would you now give to anyone wanting to do a daily project for an entire year?

#287 - don't worry (for color)

Scott: I’ve always been a fan of your 365 day projects not just because of the amazing work but also because of the stamina and constitution I imagined it must take to complete them. It was day 59 when I contacted you. “Struggling a bit” is an understatement. I’ve undertaken some crazy things in my life but this was on a different mental level than anything I had ever experienced. It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of a project like this and the intensity, will and resolve required to do something well every day let alone create, commercialize and socialize a thoughtful conceptual painting daily and then make an art show about it.

Your email reply was great because it was encouraging but more importantly it was practical. One of the things you mentioned was that during your 365 projects you had to plan pieces in advance of trips to make sure you didn’t miss a day. This helped to shift me into thinking about “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” as a job. To finish the project, make it exceptional and ensure some level sanity it required a daily schedule, especially considering I was running a design consultancy simultaneously. As soon as I created a routine, writing in the morning, sketching in the late afternoon, painting in the evening (late evening) and posting in the early morning, all that was left was to create great work.

My advice for anyone who wants to do a daily project for a year is to make sure that whatever it is that they’re doing, it needs to start with themselves. Do it because you love it and do it because you have to in order to survive and grow. There were many times during the project that it felt as if I was working within a vacuum, social media posts were not resonating, newsletters were seemingly being sent into a digital abyss and print orders were non-existent. These are the times that test your resolve and reinforce that it’s about the work and the love that you have for the work.

The other thing you mentioned Lisa is, “you WON’T regret it”.

I don’t. THANK YOU.

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Lisa: You are most welcome! Where can people buy the book or prints from the project? Where can people find you online?

Scott: The prints continue to be available via my website at scottpatt.com. Each piece is hand signed in a limited edition of 100. They’re digitally printed with archival inks on beautiful 100% Cotton Rag Acid Free Paper. On the site people can also watch the short film we did documenting the project’s half way point as well as a great piece that highlights the sketchbooks.

The “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” book documents all 369 paintings as well as the story of the project from beginning to end. We did a very small run of books for the first edition and I only have a handful left. If people are interested in purchasing a copy they can email me direct at info@scottpatt.com.

For the most up to date happenings, shows, sketches and recent musings give a follow at @scottpatt on Instagram.

BSF book mock up

Lisa: What are you working on now?

Scott: In the near term, “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” has created some fun opportunities including an upcoming partnership this summer with a great global lifestyle brand (TBA) and potentially exhibiting my work with some new galleries in the U.S. As well, since the show in N.Y.C. I’ve been working on some commissions for bigger works from the series. On my wish list…I’d love to get all 369 pieces into a book of daily postcards and I’d love to do a second edition of the book with a publisher.

Bigger picture, It’s incredibly fitting that one of the last pieces I created for the project was entitled “It’s not me. It’s you.”. There is no greater sentiment to the project and work to summarize the importance and inspiration that so many people played in fulfilling what “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier” became and where it still can go both physically and philosophically.

Thank you Lisa you definitely were and continue to be a part of that!

#368 - it's not me it's you 600

Scott: A couple other amazing partners from “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” people should check out:

“Kingspoke” did amazing things throughout the project including the documentary.

“The Happening” created the amazing sketchbooks film and helped make my “Bigger. Smaller. Funnier.” font into a usable digital font.

My creative council and talented wife Lisa DeJohn


Thank you, Scott! You are a huge inspirational force in my life! <3

Have a great Wednesday everyone!



More Sketchbook Explorations // Part Four



Friends! It’s PART FOUR of my latest class with Creativebug launches today! This week we take our pens outside of the sketchbook to create TWO new projects: a beautiful wave pattern with white gel pen on black paper and all-over patterns on the covers of kraft paper Scout Books (also with gel pens).


Join me for this class — the class lives Creativebug in perpetuity and you can take it at your own pace. It’s never too late to start!

Have a great Tuesday! And happy sketchbooking!


The Vulnerability Hangover



A few years ago I was on the phone with one of my friends. I was sharing with her an experience I’d had the day after a recent speaking engagement: I felt really anxious and couldn’t stop thinking about all of the ways I had screwed up this particular public talk and all the things I would have changed if I could do it over again. My heart was beating fast and my stomach was in knots. “You were having a vulnerability hangover,” she said to me matter-of-factly. “A what?” I asked. It was a notion she’d learned from her friend writer and researcher, Brené Brown. In short, a vulnerability hangover is what happens when we do or share something that is big (or vulnerable) for us and the next morning we wake up and think, “Holy shit! Why did I share that? I want to run into a hole in the ground and hide!”

The truth is that this particular vulnerability hangover was not an isolated event for me. I’ve been having vulnerability hangovers my whole life. Not only do I have them every day after I give a public talk in front of an audience (which I do several times a year) — I also have them the day after art openings, book signings and sharing long personal essays (like this one) on this blog. They are part and parcel of my professional life. In my personal life, I sometimes have them after dinner parties in which I fear I’ve shared too much or after spending an hour revealing something deeply personal to a friend or family member.

But while vulnerability hangovers might seem like a horrible thing we should avoid, Brené argues that if you don’t feel a vulnerability hangover you haven’t gone far enough. In fact, she argues that vulnerability is good for you. It is  “our most accurate measure of courage”.

This past Monday I had a Seattle book signing event for my latest book Fortune Favors the Brave (in which the quote above by Brené Brown is featured). I get really nervous before each book signing that no one but a few committed friends will show up. And then sometimes I worry that even those friends will decide they have better things to do. I mean, how embarrassing would that be if no one came? What might it mean about my worth as a writer or artist? This fear never loosens its grip on me, no matter how many books I publish and how many book events I schedule.

I was having one of those afternoons this past Monday — we’ll call this a preemptive anticipatory vulnerability hangover. My wife Clay and friend Kristen who were accompanying me to the signing were saying all of the right things to encourage me. “It’s going to be great!” and “We know at least five people will come!” After dinner as we walked into the venue, we could see from behind that the room of chairs was almost full. A wave of relief washed over me and I winked at my wife.


Crisis averted for the time being. I walked to the podium and I gave my reading & short talk and then answered questions from the audience. You cannot prepare for questions from the audience (you never know what they will ask). And sometimes they ask questions that lead to very personal responses. And sometimes people ask questions that I’m not sure I know how to answer. Most of the time I try to be as honest as possible and to share as much of my experience as I feel comfortable doing in the moment. I like it when I make people laugh, mostly.

Fast forward to later that night at my friend Kristen’s apartment. I went to bed feeling generally very happy. What a successful book event! People came! I signed so many books! Everyone was so nice! And then I fell asleep.

Fast forward again to about 3:30 in the morning when I woke up to go to the bathroom. I got back in bed after relieving myself and the replay of previous evening begins in my head.

“When that woman asked about that, I should have said this instead of what I actually said.”

And “I hope I didn’t come off as too negative or complain too much about my career. I wonder if I sounded like an entitled asshole?”

And “I could have said that way more articulately.”

And “I wonder if anyone understood anything I said at all? I must have sounded like an idiot!”

And on and on.

My vulnerability hangover didn’t even wait until the sun came up.

Eventually I forced myself to think of something different and I fell back asleep. When I woke up in the morning I had a clearer head (I am not my best at 3:30 in the morning in the dark). Immediately I named what was happening: I’m having a vulnerability hangover. And I began to think about a lot of things related to that, including the fact that while I think I want to give perfectly polished talks and perfectly well thought out answers at book event Q&A’s, I am not a perfectly polished person. And, in fact, I think that might be what people like about me. To the extent I can, I share the truth about my experience. And if I’m going to keep being real, I’m not always going to say things exactly right, or think of all the right things to say in the moment. That’s just life.

The truth is, I really like book signings. People who actually come to book signings show up because they want to be there. They like my work or they feel inspired by my non-traditional path as an artist. And I always feel so much gratitude in the moment at book events, because people say the nicest things and without fail they share very personal things with me in the few minutes I have with them while I am signing their book. I make so many incredible (albeit brief) connections with people at my book signings. It’s like a big vulnerability party.

And then I realize that the fact that I’m feeling raw isn’t a bad thing. It’s a good thing. All the uncomfortable things I have done in my life (including making art and books and sharing them with the world), are the things that have brought me the deepest connections with other humans.

For the record, I had another book event & public talk last night, and today I feel just fine. I am hoping that means I am just getting more comfortable with being vulnerable. Or maybe the hangover will come later this afternoon. :)

On that note, I wanted to share if you don’t know already that the amazing Brené Brown as a new book out called Rising Strong, which I am just starting to read this week. Thank you Brené for all of your amazing work. It has changed my life.

CATEGORIES: Personal Essays

More Sketchbook Explorations // Part Three



Friends, today launches PART THREE of my latest class with Creativebug, More Sketchbook Explorations! This week we create a color-blocked background with watercolor and layer over designs in micron pen and gel pens. I think you will really love this exercise!

If you aren’t familiar with this four part class (part four comes next week), you can watch some videos and learn more about the class here before signing up. You can start the class now — the class lives on Creativebug forever so you can take the class at whichever pace feels right.

Enjoy and happy sketching! Can’t wait to see what you create!


Anne Weil // Knitting Without Needles



I’m super excited to introduce you today to a brand new knitting book — and this isn’t just any knitting book. It’s a book filled with arm and finger knitting patterns (did you know you could knit without needles? With your own bare hands?). This is the kind of knitting that is perfect for non-knitters and knitters alike. The projects in this book come with easy step-by-step photographs and how-tos (that even kids can make). I love a chunky knit, and this book is filled with them!

I also want to introduce you to the book’s author, Anne Weil. I met Anne exactly three short years ago in 2012. I was about to head to the Lake Tahoe area to teach at a retreat the following week. The retreat organizer asked if I could stop and pick up another instructor on my way and bring her with me.  “Ugh,” I thought to myself — I didn’t necessarily want to spend four hours in the car with someone I didn’t know and was imagining awkward conversations with some weird woman as we drove through the mountains to Tahoe. But, of course, I said yes (how could I say no? how weird could she be?) and stopped the following week to pick up Anne and drive her to the retreat in my car. And, you guessed it (I think you know where this story is going), not only was Anne not weird — she was one of the warmest, most interesting, easy-to-talk-to people I had ever met. We became fast friends and have remained close to this day. Thank you, universe.

Furthermore, I learned that weekend at the retreat that Anne was not only warm and interesting, but she was also an exceptionally talented crafter, knitter, crocheter and maker. She was (and still is) the mastermind behind the blog Flax and Twine, and now she is the new author of Knitting Without Needles: A Stylish Introduction to Finger and Arm Knitting.

Today in my Interviews with People I Admire Series, I present to you Anne Weil, who tells us about her new book Knitting Without Needles. I’m also going to share with you the gorgeous arm-knitted pouf she made for me (which my dog Wilfredo has adopted as his new lounger), which is part of the Great American Pouf Tour. Anne’s pouf is one of my favorite projects in her new book, and I am so proud to own this lovely blue version (now to make one myself!).


{Wilfredo sitting on my new blue arm-knitted pouf, made for me by Anne}

Without further ado, Anne Weil.

Lisa: Anne, your new book Knitting Without Needles is simply gorgeous. Tell us about the process of making the book. How did you come up with all of the projects? How long did the process of making the book take? What other creative people were involved in the making of the book?

Anne: Thank you, Lisa! A lot of the project ideas had been brewing for a long time. Before I submitted the book proposal, I remember sitting up late one night with my daughter sketching and brainstorming all the possible finger-knitting projects we could think of. Such a fond memory, and it took off from there. The process of making a book was so much more involved and time-consuming than I originally thought. First, was the challenge of designing projects, with yarns, colors and ideas that all worked with one another cohesively in a group. I just let my mind go and thought of many, many possible projects. After I had a bank of ideas, I just started choosing and trying them–some worked and some didn’t. At the same time, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest pulling together images that had the feel I was going for. This helped forward my design concepts, as well.  After that, I worked out a color concept for each chapter.  I officially started working on the book in January of 2014, and I finished all the projects and written all the patterns by August of that year. But that wasn’t the end!


{Wilfredo on his new pouf // aka: “Lounger”}

I did all the art direction for the book. I loved having that aspect of the book all in my hands. I was lucky to work with two different and talented photographer/stylist teams. I made sure I had detailed concept summaries for each project and each chapter to help direct the work. It took five days to shoot the whole book. All the model shots and the cover shot were styled by Brittany Jepsen of The House that Lars Built and photographed by Jessica Peterson. The other product photographs were done in apartments in New York City, styled by Pam Morris and shot by Lucy Schaeffer.  After that, it was a 7 months of combing through all the language, the layouts, the details to get them all just right.  Then, 5 months of waiting while it printed, and, finally, it’s here!

Pattern from Knitting Without Needles-08

{Image of the pouf from the book}

Lisa: And it’s a gorgeous book!! Tell us about finger and arm knitting. How long have you been doing these forms of knitting, how did you get into them and why do they appeal to you?

Anne: I love how self-sufficient these two crafts are. Literally, you just need your beautiful self and some yarn to make something gorgeous. Apparently, I learned how to finger-knit when I was very young. One day, when my kids were bored with my knitting, I picked up a skein of yarn and showed them how to finger knit without even knowing what I was doing! It was total muscle memory! After that, we were all hooked, making miles and miles of finger knitting together.  I knew that there had to be a way to use these long strands in a beautiful way for modern projects.  I started working toward that goal. Through those efforts, I came up with the new techniques to attach the finger knitting back to itself, like crochet, and to build a wider fabric. This blew open the doors of possibilities for finger knitting, and that is reflected in the projects in the book. The arm knitting obsession began four years ago when someone asked me if I had heard of it. I dug around a little bit and played a lot and figured it out. I fell in love with it immediately. I love the modern shift in scale and the luscious loft that arm knitting brings to just about any project.  I really enjoy bringing traditional knitting techniques, even cables and lace, to arm knitting in this book. So many fabulous, yet easy to make projects.

Pattern from Knitting Without Needles-09

Lisa: I’ve never arm or finger knitted before. I feel intimated! Can your book change that for me? How?

Anne: Never fear, Lisa!! You can do it! The book comes with really easy step-by-step photographic directions, both for how to finger and arm knit, and also for each project. Remember, too, that finger knitting has previously been relegated to the 5-7 year old set so it is a very easy and straightforward craft to learn and a fun one! It becomes addicting, even for adults! Arm and finger knitting are much simpler to learn than traditional knitting as you don’t have to figure out how to handle needles. In these crafts, you are simply bringing loops of yarn through current loops on your arms or fingers. The gorgeous beginner projects in this book are perfect for the newbie!  I’ve been doing a lot of workshops, too. The majority of time that I am teaching, 90% of my participants have never knit before and they all leave feeling confident about their skill.  I can’t wait for you to learn how!

Pattern from Knitting Without Needles-10

Lisa: What is your favorite project in the book?

Anne: That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child! Hmm . . . For style, I would have to say I adore the Faux Sheepskin.  For technique innovation, I am most proud of the Finger Knit Booties or the Linen Baskets. I love that these gorgeous things are made simply knitting on your fingers.  For wow factor, I’m in love with the tote! I find it all so thrilling.


Lisa: Where can people find you online?

Anne: My blog is Flax & Twine.  You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.  I teach online at Creativebug here and here.  I also teach workshops in person, you can find my latest teaching schedule here.

Lisa: I also want to mention that the book’s yarn and all the yarn for this tour were graciously sponsored by Purl Soho. My fabulous floor pouf was made with Cascade Magnum yarn. And kits for the poufs or signed copies of Knitting Without Needles can be purchased at Anne’s shop. Thank you, Anne!

Now let’s get to knitting this weekend, friends! Have a great Friday!


Seattle & McMinnville: See You Next Week!




I have two more book events next week and I’d love to see you there if you are nearby!

The first is a book signing and Q&A event at University Books in Seattle from 7-9 this coming Monday!

The second is a book signing and Q&A event at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon this Wednesday from 7:30-9.

I’ll also be at Reading Frenzy in Portland TONIGHT (September 24).

I love signing books and meeting new people (and seeing familiar faces too!). Hope to see you there!



More Sketchbook Explorations // Part Two



Hello friends! We are off to a great start over at Creativebug for Part Two of my new class More Sketchbook Explorations! It’s never too late to begin this class (it’s now open in perpetuity!) and it’s something you can do at your own pace. You can sign up here for Creativebug if you aren’t already a member (it’s super easy and affordable) or begin taking the class if you are already a member.

In Part Two we an all-over flora and fauna motif with micron and brush pens!

See you in class!


My 2016 Calendar is Now Available!



My 2016 Wall Calendar is here!

Note: this is a pre-order and will ship on November 5th.

This is a limited edition of 300 calendars! When they sell out, they are gone. Please limit your order to no more than THREE calendars.

This monthly calendar is 7×14 inches, printed on 100 pound opaque bright white paper and spiral bound with a wire-o hanger for easy display.

These calendars were digitally printed in the USA in beautiful Portland, Oregon by a family owned print shop. All artwork was created by Lisa Congdon, especially for the calendar.

Purchase the calendar here.



NOTE: This calendar will ship on Thursday November 5th. Depending on where you live, it can take 2-12 days to arrive (if you are in the US). International orders always take a 1-4 weeks.

All work copyrighted © by Lisa Congdon.


Portland Book Signing and Q&A



Portland! This Thursday evening at 7 pm — to celebrate the release of my latest book — Fortune Favors the Brave, I sit down with fellow Portland illustrator Kate Bingaman-Burt for a Q&A, followed by a book signing. This event will be held at Reading Frenzy on Mississippi Avenue. It’s appropriate for all ages and will start promptly at 7 pm. Get there early to get a seat! You can purchase a book to sign at the event or bring your own copy (of any of my books!).

Spread the word & bring your friends! See you Thursday!

Psst: I am coming to Seattle next Monday the 28th and the to  McMinville, OR on the 30th! More info here.

Have a great Monday, friends!


Karen Walrond // Looking for the Light



{Self portrait by my friend Karen Walrond, today’s subject on Interviews with People I Admire}

Sometime about four or five years ago I got a shout-out (or a friendly shout-to) on Twitter from someone with the handle @chookooloonks. I don’t remember exactly what Karen (that’s her actual name) said to me that day — it may have been about something I’d written on my blog or something I’d tweeted. At the time, I was very active on Twitter (not so much anymore), and I talked to a lot of people I didn’t know. Something about Karen intrigued me. Through her Twitter profile I found out about her beautiful blog, which I began reading. And I started admiring her beautiful photography. I also found out that Karen and I had umpteen friends in common. That day I decided I wanted to be internet friends with Karen.

A couple of years later, Karen contacted me because she wanted to commission me to make her a painting. I’d just begun making more abstract paintings, and that’s exactly what Karen wanted. I was thrilled and honored. Karen suggested we get on Skype (finally!) to meet each other in person (she lives in Houston and at the time I was living in Oakland, California)  so we could talk about what she was looking for and to show me where the painting would be hung when it was finished. Of course, on that Skype date, we talked about a lot more than the painting. We discovered that we are almost the same age. And we talked about one significant thing we have in common: that we both had other professional careers before becoming artists and writers — and how that has shaped our experience later in life.

Since then we’ve met in real life & I continue to admire Karen for all she does (and she does a lot of amazing things). Recently, the last time we were together, Karen took a portrait of me for her Thrive Portrait Series (which we talk about in our interview below), which led to this blog post, which led to the next book I’m more than likely about to start writing & editing (more on that soon).

Without further ado, I present to you Karen Walrond: Speaker, Author , Photo-essayist (and as you will see: so much more).


Lisa: One of the things I love about you, Karen, is that you are not just one thing, you are many things:  a teacher, photographer, speaker, writer, traveler, thinker, artist, activist and more. And your online presence is about a lot of things: food, travel, family, friendship, photography, personal change and responsibility (I could go on and on here). All of those things are brought together by this unifying theme in your work (and in all the ways you express it), which is the message that we are all just “looking for the light”. What is that universal experience of looking for the light? And how you approach looking for the light each day?

Karen: Thank you so much! (And a digression — I love that you used all those titles to describe me. When I first quit my 9-5 job, I really struggled with not knowing what “title” to put on my business cards. I eventually decided not to have any title at all — and eight years later, I still don’t have one on my cards!)

“Look for the light” has so many levels for me:  obviously, as a photographer, light is my medium — “photography” actually means “drawing with light” — so my work requires me to literally look for the light every time I put a camera to my face.  But “drawing with light” is only part of what I do (and what I hope to convey with my work). I think “looking for the light” is about looking for the light inside each other — listening to each other’s stories, and seeking resonance, across races, and cultures, and nationalities and backgrounds.  I also think it’s about making a practice of looking for beauty in our everyday lives, and feeling gratitude for it — this practice is key, I think, in living a joyful life.  I don’t think joyful people are people who live lives absent of pain — but they’re people who can transcend that pain, and identify moments of joy despite the pain.

Admittedly, my camera is a huge tool in my looking for beauty every day.  But so is my journaling practice.  Anything that I can do to record beauty and light works for me.


Lisa: Yes, so as you mentioned, another theme in your work and writing is this idea that it is our differences that make us beautiful. You even wrote a book about it. Tell us about The Beauty of Different and why it is so important today, now in 2015.

Karen: It’s funny, I wrote that book in 2010, and I sort of wish it was just coming out now, because it seems that people have lost sight of how beautiful Different is, now more than ever!

I wrote the book because I was I was enthralled by this dichotomy:  on one hand, we hate standing out: we go to our jobs, our churches, our schools, and hope no one things we’re weird, or dress strangely or act strangely. We have things about ourselves — physical yes, but also emotional, or our belief systems — that we try not to let everyone know about. And yet, we’re enthralled by people who do just that:  who are confident enough to be different, and look different, and act differently from the crowd. So I decided to write a book where I interviewed people who didn’t fit the norm, and yet because they didn’t, their lives were more fulfilling because of it. I wanted to interview them to get answers on how we can tap into our own differences, and see them as assets, rather than liabilities.

Luckily, everyone I approached was more than happy and open to the idea of having me photograph and interview them. In the book, for example, there’s a boxer who is also a priest. There’s a wildly popular New York Times bestselling author and blogger who writes about her severe social anxiety. There’s a woman who is perpetually youthful, even though she’s in her 60s. And many others. And what it all came down to was this: they all decided that they were going to tell their own stories, and not let others tell their stories for them. And their stories were that they were beautiful.


{In May 2015, Karen traveled to Malawi with The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. This photo is from that trip}

Lisa: One thing we have in common is that we both worked in regular 9-5 jobs in our 20’s and 30’s and came to new creative ventures later in life. You were a lawyer in your former life. Tell us how you went from that life to this life, that experience of transformation and why it happened (and any thoughts on that).

Karen: I’m actually still a lawyer — although I don’t practice anymore, I do keep my license active, and take continuing legal education courses every year to ensure that it stays active!

The story of how I went from that life to this life is a long one, one that is probably too long to go into here, but suffice to say that while I was, by all measures, very successful as a lawyer, I was really unhappy, despite having a really great job, bosses who allowed me a lot of freedom, and being paid really well.  And yet, I was unhappy to the point that it was starting to affect my health.  It turns out that I don’t have the temperament to be a lawyer, even though I love the law — so I quit.

Photography and writing had long been a hobby of mine for a long time, and so after I left my practice, I focused on those — developing the blog, and writing the book — and then as a result, I’ve developed a successful public speaking career as well.  I speak about things like The Beauty of Different, yes; but also related concepts, like leadership, and self-empowerment, and diversity, among other things.  My clients include everyone from women’s groups, to universities, to corporations, and yes, even legal organizations and law firms!  So it all comes full circle.


{The portrait Karen took of me this past January for her Thrive project}

Lisa: Earlier this year you started a new project called the Thrive Portrait Project. Tell us about that project. What is it and why did you start it?

Karen: Back in October 2014, I took a month-long sabbatical from writing my blog, and I decided to look around and see what sort of blogs and other personal writings there were out there by people who are similarly situated, and feeling the same way I’d be feeling: entering a new stage: a time when things are going great, but I also feel like I’m ready for new challenges, new adventures. A time of flourishing. Sadly, I found very few. Save for one incredibly beautiful blog This is 50, by gifted photographer Kristin Perers, there wasn’t a whole lot out there that represents what I’d been experiencing — that now, in my late 40s, this isn’t a time of disappearing, but more one fueled by the feeling captured by the indomitable Maya Angelou, who said that her mission in life isn’t merely to survive, but “to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.”

So, inspired by my friend Erin Loechner (who advised me to “write the kind of content that I wish I saw elsewhere on the web”), when I returned to Chookooloonks, I decided to use it as a medium to, in part, explore what the word “thrive” means to me. As part of that exploration, I embarked on a new photography project that I called the Thrive Portrait Project, and shoot photographs of women over 40 who I felt truly embodied the word “thrive,” and ask them for their definition of the word.  I take the images using an vintage Hasselblad medium-format film camera. Because the camera is completely manual, it requires me to slow down and be more meditative when I take the shots, with the upside being that the final result has a wonderfully timeless film quality to the image, which is, after all, the point. The project is slow going, mostly because I’m being very picky about who I photograph: not only do they have to be over 40, but my subjects also have to inspire me in some way. Some of the women who’ve sat for me are friends or family I know well, others were people I didn’t know very well at the time, but watching them from afar inspired me to live greater, so they definitely qualified.  What’s been amazing is that each woman I’ve photographed has a different definition for the word “thrive,” but it’s packed with wisdom — and an overarching theme that keeps coming up is that thriving isn’t about perfection, but about rising strong after facing adversity. It’s a pretty amazing thing.


{Portrait of fellow photographer Brooke Shaden}

Lisa: You take really awesome photographs of your everyday life. Do you carry your camera with you everywhere? How does this experience of being a photographer shape how you see the world?

Karen: I do carry a camera with me everywhere!  I used to carry one of my big cameras everywhere, but that quickly became cumbersome, so now I save that camera for when I know that I’m going somewhere where there’ll be a person or a location or scenery that I’m going to find inspiring. On normal days, however — days where my only travel will be to the grocery store or to pick my daughter up from school — I carry a tidy little point-and-shoot by Sony in my purse. While it doesn’t have the power of my Nikon dSLR, it takes stunning photographs nonetheless, and is really convenient for when something beautiful comes up. And something beautiful always comes up — if there’s one thing that having a consistent photography practice has taught me, it is this.

Of course, in a pinch, my iPhone works well, too.  Camera phones are amazing these days, truly.


Lisa: One of my favorite recent blog posts of yours is this one about the difference between achieving goals as opposed to getting good at maintaining a good ritual. That is — that it is the behavior we instill that gets us to a goal that is more important than the goal itself. I had a huge a-ha moment when I read that post! You speak of your journaling ritual in that post. Tell us about how often you write and draw in your journal and what that ritual does for you.

Karen: I try to write in my journal every morning Monday-through-Friday at a minimum.  I draw whenever the mood takes me — sometimes it’s several times a week, sometimes a month will go by before I ever play in my journal.  But if I skip days, it shows up in my life: I’m far more scattered, I forget important things, I’m more irritable. Journaling is a form of meditation for me, and allows me to dump everything that’s swirling around in my head so that I can show up less scattered in the world. It’s definitely a self-care thing.


Lisa: What are you working on right now? Any new or existing workshops, projects or passions you can share with us?

Karen: Well, it’s actually sort of “busy season” for me right now — I’ve got a lot of talks and keynotes that are coming up, to various corporations, girls’ organizations and conferences around the country, on creativity and leadership, which is always really exciting.  Also, I recently started the process of becoming certified in Brené Brown’s Daring Way curriculum, which will be incorporated in a lot of the talks that I give as well.  And I’m actually looking into getting certified as an executive coach, so that I can do one-on-one executive coaching with C-level executives as well as creative entrepreneurs.  I’m hoping to eventually branch into doing corporate workshops and retreats for small executive groups or creative entrepreneurs, with any luck, in 2016.

In amongst all of that of course, I’ll be doing a lot of traveling and shooting.  So it’s exciting times!

Lisa: All so exciting! I may sign up as your first coaching client (for real, but we can talk about that later). Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. Friends, you can view all of Karen’s magic here on her site (which also links to her blog, Instagram and all the other places you can find her online and also how you can contact her if you are interested in working with her).

Have a great Friday and see you next week!


WeMake Celebrates // October 2!



On Friday, October 2 at The Armory in Portland’s Pearl District, Portland’s WeMake is holding a jam-packed day long design conference! At this event, several of the world’s most amazing makers and designers will share their creative processes. This inaugural adventure features keynote speakers, panel discussions, live demos and a Makers Market with some amazing Portland makers. I can’t wait to attend this day!

Some of my favorite artists and designers will be there sharing their wisdom, including print maker Veronica Corzo-Duchardt, photographer Paul Octavious and typographer Gemma O’Brien.

Photography by Anjali Pinto, www.anjalipinto.com

Tickets are available here and I’m offering you $55 off your ticket price today with discount code WMLISA15.

See you there!

CATEGORIES: Inspiration

More Sketchbook Explorations // Starts Today!



Friends, I am so excited to announce my next four-part class with Creativebug, a brand new sketchbook class called More Sketchbook Explorations. This class is a follow up to my previous Sketchbook Explorations class (which you can view here) but taking the first class is not a prerequisite!

In this new four-part class I take you through five different projects. In the first three classes we explore different mediums inside the sketchbook and in the final class we take our materials outside the sketchbook and onto different surfaces.

The class rolls out over four weeks, starting today. In this week’s class I show you how to create a lush background using Koi brush pens and then we’ll layer over with Micron pens to create a floral motif.

Post your images on Instagram and tag them #sketchbookexplorations so I can see what you’ve been up to!

Don’t have a Creativebug subscription? It’s fast, super inexpensive and easy. Just follow the subscribe links on the class page!

Each week I’ll be back to let you know what’s coming next. For now, you can watch this lovely trailer for the class.


Fortune Favors the Brave // Bay Area Events!



Friends & followers in the San Francisco Bay Area: I am coming this weekend for two different Fortune Favors the Brave book events, and I hope to see you at one of them!

San Francisco: The first is a book launch party at Rare Device at 600 Divisadero in San Francisco. That event is taking place this Friday evening from 6-9 pm. This party is open to the public! At the party, you can purchase copies of the book (and I’ll be there say hello and sign them for you), have a drink or a snack, and shop Rare Device for all their wonderful goods.

Oakland: The second event takes place the next day at Nathan and Company on College Avenue in Oakland from 2-4 on Saturday. At this event you can purchase copies of the book & I’ll be there to say hello and sign them especially for you. Nathan and Company (another of my favorite stores) is also chock full of gorgeous wares.

Both of these events are kid-friendly. Hope to see you this weekend! Bring your friends.