This quote is from my book about swimming, due out in Spring of 2016.
Have a great Monday, friends!
Friends, I’ve got eight new original pieces for sale through Hellion Gallery. If you see one you like (at the time of this writing, the bottom left “Spring Flowers” has sold but all others are available), email firstname.lastname@example.org to make your purchase. All pieces are 12×16 inches, framed in wood, and $350.
You can see larger images of each piece here on Hellion’s website.
Have a great Thursday, friends!
Hello friends! So excited to have two new LIMITED EDITION prints in the shop! The prints are each printed on high quality thick Hahnemühle etching paper and are signed and numbered (editions of 25 only). They are both 11×14 inches.
Fish Limited Edition Print // Get yours here.
Yes Town Limited Edition Print // Get yours here.
Have a great Monday!
Friends in the Pacific Northwest! Don’t miss Linework NW, a comics and illustration festival in Portland Oregon at Norse Hall this weekend.
This year, I am a “special guest” at the festival, along with luminaries Daniel Clowes, Lisa Hanawalt and Jay Howell. I will be at the festival Sunday, April 19 from 12 pm to 8 pm, selling and signing books and limited edition prints. Come find me at my table! From 2:30-3:30 pm on Sunday I will be on stage in conversation with fellow artist and illustrator Jason Sturgill for an intimate conversation about my work and process.
Come to the festival to peruse and purchase the work of tons of comics artists and illustrators, meet special guests and hear folks speak.
There’s more! There is also an opening party and exhibit of the work of all of the special guests (including me), which opens Friday, April 17 at Hellion Gallery from 6-10 pm. Hellion Gallery is located at 19 NW 5th Ave, Suite #208 in the Pearl. You can RSVP for the event on Facebook here or just show up! I will have EIGHT framed original drawings for sale at the opening:
If you do come to the festival, please say hello. I love meeting people.
Have a great Tuesday and see you this weekend!
Friends, after moving to Portland Oregon earlier this week, my Etsy Shop has now reopened! And to celebrate, I am releasing a new print called Spring Blossoms which you can purchase here. The print is 11×14 inches, printed with archival inks on acid free bright white paper and is signed and dated.
You may recall that a few weeks ago I announced that my wife Clay and I are packing up our home & business and moving to Portland, Oregon. This particular change feels even bigger than others I’ve made recently, and that’s because it involves a significant change in place.
If you know me at all, you know that I am am California girl. I love my state (and its flora and fauna) so much that I have the word California (flocked with poppies and a Quail) tattooed on my left forearm. The California Bay Area has been my home for almost forty years. When I was eight years old my family moved from upstate New York to the Silicon Valley (first San Jose, then Los Gatos). When I was 18, I moved to Moraga, California to attend college, and from there, in 1990, I moved to San Francisco, where I lived for 23 years until I moved to Oakland a little over two years ago (which I wrote about here and here).
And for years and years, I said I would never leave San Francisco. It’s where I came of age, came out of the closet, where I became a real adult, worked, laughed, roamed the streets, fell in love for the first time, experienced & recovered from countless bouts of heartbreak, learned to love good food and wine, met most of the important people in my life and became an artist. “I am never leaving this city,” you might have heard me say years ago. “I am staying here till I die.”
But what I didn’t know then is that I would change. And that San Francisco would also change. And that even though I still love the place, I wanted, needed to get out and go somewhere else. I was craving more quiet and San Francisco was getting more crowded and more expensive. So two years ago I moved over to Oakland, a short 12 miles from the big city. And I grew to love it here too. Oakland offered so much of the change I was craving: more quiet, more space, something new and different for my mind to experience. But it was still only 12 miles away, and on average I’ve driven or taken the train into San Francisco at least twice a week since moving to Oakland.
Early in 2014 my wife and I began to talk about my art business. It was growing at an enormously fast pace, and I was struggling to keep up with & manage all of the opportunities by myself. We wondered aloud what it would be like for her to come on and help me with my business, to manage my marketing and operations, strategic decision making and communication. That wondering grew into a plan, and a year later we are making it happen (she started as Head of Marketing and Operations for Lisa Congdon Art & Illustration last week, after leaving her job at California College of the Arts). We also realized that in order to build the studio of our dreams (complete with room for things like art-making, order fulfillment and client meetings) we had to leave the Bay Area. The cost of living here is one of the most expensive in the country.
So we began researching other cities and towns that might be a good fit, places that were economically vibrant, but more affordable, and we kept coming back to Portland, Oregon. There is a rich arts community in Portland, a fantastic outdoors culture (we love to bike and swim and hike), and, best of all, my parents and sister and her family all live there. It’s already been like a second home to me for the past 15 years. After months of visits and weighing options, and lots of hemming and hawing, we decided, despite having to leave California, Portland was the place.
And just like that, I’m leaving the place I once thought I would never leave, and everything I thought would be true about my home is no longer true.
And while you might think that I would feel scared or sad, I am, in fact, enormously excited to leave the Bay Area. And that’s not because I’m angry or disgruntled about the changes in the Bay Area; it’s because I’m excited to try something new. I’m excited to experience an entirely new place first time in my adult life — not just for a few weeks on a vacation, but as a new way of living. I am looking forward to making new friends, hiking new trails, getting to know my family in new ways, making a new home with Clay and planting some roots. I am even looking forward to experiencing new weather, rain and cold winters.
I have no doubt I will miss the abundance of sunshine, the endless hillsides covered in dry grass and dotted with oak trees, the diversity, the culture of innovation, my beautiful friends. I have unending memories of my life here in California, of San Francisco back when it was just a regular bohemian city, and all of the incredible things & people I experienced here over the past 25 years.
But I am excited about our next adventure. I’m excited about being uncomfortable, about new experiences and about getting lost. The older I get, the more I realize how intentional change and placing myself outside my comfort zone fuels my creative process and growth. I have no doubt that the next few months will be an intense and sometimes difficult adjustment for both Clay and me. But I also know that I have not felt this much energy for life (despite my busy work schedule) in a long time.
So, Portland, here we come.
Have a great Thursday, friends.
I just recorded a new episode with none other than Srinivas Rao of The Unmistakable Creative Podcast!
Highlights of the podcast include:
+A painting class that was the catalyst for my career change
+Infusing a spirit of generosity into the art world
+Challenging the starving artist narrative that perpetuates our culture
+Dealing with fear of claiming your identity as an artist
+Identifying the special, important and transformative moments of your life
+The process of self discovery to uncover latent skills
+How we get comfortable with putting our work in front of an audience
+Navigating the emotional journey of your creative career
+Leaning into the discomfort and messiness of your life and work
I hope you will give a listen.
It’s been awhile since I’ve featured an Interview with Someone I Admire here on Today is Going to be Awesome. But I’m back today with a good one. Today I talk to Jen Hewett: artist, pattern designer, print maker & gifted teacher. Full disclosure: she also happens to be one of my closest friends. I love Jen for all kinds of reasons, including her sense of humor and her pragmatism (and of course her adorable dog, Gus). And I think you will also notice here that Jen is humble and reflective about her journey, whip smart, and open hearted about sharing her process. She’s also got a keen and unique aesthetic, mixing pattern and color together in ways I don’t see anywhere else. I hope you’ll enjoy this interview with her!
Lisa: Tell us a bit about how you got started as an artist. Did you study art? Are you self taught? When did your creative “journey” begin and how did it evolve over time?
Jen: I am almost completely self-taught. I have a bachelors degree in English Literature, and a minor in French Language. Not exactly the most marketable degree, but not having a zillion job offers upon graduation made me scrappy. After a few years of working in education, I decided that I wanted to start a stationery company. This was 2000, and the dot.com boom was in full force in San Francisco. My friends were going to work at tech startups, and I was selling paper.
I did all the illustrations and layout for my company. I was very pleased when, at trade shows, buyers would ask me where I went to art school. I’d managed to create a great line that was sold in places like Anthropologie, Paper Source, and Neiman Marcus – without an art degree. But, despite all my scrappiness, I made some business mistakes and sold the business after I finally came to terms with just how much debt I had taken on while growing my business.
I then worked for an e-learning/interactive company doing operations and finance. That allowed me to pay off my debt and save up some money so that by the time that company folded during the height of the Great Recession in 2008, I could survive on unemployment and my savings until I was able to find a job.
I’d taken a screenprinting class at the Mission Cultural Center a few months before I was laid off. It was originally just a creative outlet for me while I worked a non-creative day job, but I was quickly hooked. I posted a couple of pieces I’d printed on Etsy, and they sold. So, when I was laid off and was unable to find a job because the economy was so bad, I’d go to the studio to print, in between job hunting. My work started to get noticed – it was the early days of both blogging and of Etsy – and I realized that I might be able to make a living as a printmaker… eventually.
I did eventually take a full-time “regular” job, but that job was such a bad fit that I quit after five months and started consulting part-time and making art part-time. I was also still so scarred by all the debt I’d amassed in my first business that I decided that I’d have a part-time day job until I absolutely knew I could support myself full-time through my art. It’s nice to be able to pay the bills, and not have to worry about money all the time. And yes, I still have the day job.
Lisa: Tell us about how you got into print making as your “thing.” What kinds of print making techniques do you do and/or are your favorites? Also, what is it about print making that appeals to you over other kinds of art making processes?
Jen: I like the physical, operational, and strangely meditative nature of printmaking. There’s a process – especially with screenprinting – and I love it. I like navigating all the steps that go into creating a print. By the time I actually start printing, I’m ready to switch away from the more cerebral part of the process and instead “think with my hands.” Your mind stops blabbing, and your hands do the work. I was a competitive runner in high school. There was so much training that went into getting ready for a meet. But once the race started, all thought stopped.
I know that other media are like this, that this is what flow is, but I achieve this most often through printmaking.
Lisa: You teach classes on print making, most notably on fabric. How did that start? What do you enjoy most about teaching? Where can people find out about anything new or upcoming you might be offering?
Jen: In 2014, I launched my 52 Weeks of Printmaking project. Every week, I created and shared a new print. I’d originally intended to explore printmaking, and work with a lot of different print media, but I consistently waited until the last minute to do my print so I would only have time to work on a block print. That meant, though, that I got to be pretty decent at block printing, even though I was self-taught.
Block printing is fairly accessible. You don’t need much special equipment, and you’re rewarded immediately for your work. I’d always wanted to teach – I’d led trainings and workshops in my non-art career, and am pretty comfortable talking to small groups. I pitched a block printing class to Makeshift. I loved teaching that first class, and the students really took to block printing, so I lengthened the class and found locations that could hold more students.
Every time I posted a photo of my work, or of a class I was teaching, on Instagram, I’d be asked if I could teach a class in Vancouver/Portland/LA/Sydney. It’s not economically feasible for me to travel to all those places to teach, so in December 2014, I launched an e-course.
I continue to teach in-person classes in the Bay Area, at Handcraft Studio School and at Yonder Shop and I’m offering my e-course again in May. More information about all those classes is here.
Lisa: Your designs are very distinct and very beautiful. I love your use of color. When you are designing prints to adorn bags or clothing, what do you think about or take into consideration? Both in designing (the more aesthetic part) and also in knowing you will be printing by hand? (ie; the more technical part — there must be things you must consider differently than if you were printing digitally).
Jen: I like constructing things, which is also why I love to sew. Printing really appeals to the operational part of my brain. Particularly with screenprinting, I have to think about the number and placement of colors, because each color requires a separate screen, and a separate “pull” (the process of pulling the ink across the screen). I also have to think about how the print will align (“registration” in printing terms), which can be extremely difficult when I’m printing two or more colors. Each color adds another layer of technical complexity. One of the ways that my silkscreened fabric is very different from a lot of other work out there is in the number of colors I use in each print (many small textile printers print just one or two colors). Another difference is that I mix most of my ink myself, instead of using the standard, store-bought ink colors without any alteration. When I run out of a color, I have to mix it again, which means there are variations in color between print runs.
Size is also key – the larger the screenprint, the more difficult it is to print. The largest size I can comfortably print by myself is 18” in width. Anything larger than that requires two people to print simultaneously (both holding the squeegee on either side of the screen). I don’t have the space to screenprint on large pieces of fabric.
Finally, the scale of an image is really important. This has really been driven home this year, as I’ve started to block print yardage for clothing. A print that looks great on a small scale – on a zippered pouch or a dinner napkin, for example – can get lost when used on a larger item, like a skirt. The opposite is also true; a large image that isn’t very interesting on a bag or a napkin can look fantastic on a skirt. Block printing fabric for clothing has been a fun, challenging, learning experience.
Lisa: I love the way you approach your creative process. You also work part time as a human resources consultant, but you still manage to create all kinds of interesting projects every week. You also share a lot of your process, even your mistakes. Tell us about how you approach your creative process, including your thoughts on risk taking, experimentation & work ethic.
Jen: I can’t yet fully support myself from my art and my classes – though this will probably change in the next couple of years – so I need to have a day job. I think that my part-time day job (and, therefore, a steady income) is crucial to my creative process right now. I can create work for its own sake, and I don’t need to worry about whether or not it will sell. I’m allowed to experiment, and to have flops.
For my first few years as a printmaker, I would release a new item whenever I felt like it. It was a great way for me to get lots of practice designing and printing (and it was also great content for my blog and social media), but after a few years of that, I decided that I wanted to create more cohesive collections that I’d release twice per year. My 52 Weeks of Printmaking project was really born out of a need to create and share work during the times when I didn’t have a new collection to show!
I am not the most organized person, but because I have a day job, I make myself create regular schedules – and stick to them. The time that I have to create is precious. It is finite. If I slack off on a studio day, I can’t get that day back. And because printing is so physical, I have to do it regularly to build up my muscle memory.
A lot of my creative process is about discipline, about doing work on a regular basis. I think that a lot of creative people spin in circles – worrying that what they haven’t yet created won’t be good enough, spending a lot of time doing research, thinking about everything that could go wrong. For me, the best way to move forward is to just get started. I do the Pomodoro technique when I’m feeling especially futzy.
I’m also a recovering perfectionist. Until I was in my thirties, I lived with massive amounts of anxiety, and was terrified of making a mistake. After a couple of panic attacks, I finally got help. During our first appointment, my wonderful therapist told me that my assignment was to intentionally go out and make a mistake, and then to let her know what happened. Guess what? The world didn’t fall apart. No one shamed me. Life went on. Over a couple of years, I let go of that perfectionism. There’s no way I would be here today if I hadn’t. When people ask me what I’m most proud of, I tell them that I’m proud that I learned how to be a confident person as an adult.
So, experimenting is much easier if you’re not a perfectionist. Mistakes aren’t fatal. Bad work is just bad work. I sometimes share my flops because I think it’s important for people to know that flops are just another part of the process.
Lisa: Do you have a “dream” project or two? If so, what are they?
Jen: I’d like to do more licensing, so that my work will be on products beyond just those items I create myself. I’d especially like to license for fabric and tabletop. Licensing will be more of a focus next year, after I’ve done some work putting together a portfolio.
Have a great Thursday, friends!
To sweeten the deal for you, we are offering the coupon code VOICES which gives you 25% off your order! Not only that, but shipping for ALL international orders is just $5 (for a limited time).
All orders will be shipped within 30 days.
Learn more about VIDA here.
Enjoy! And thank you for supporting my work!
Hello! I am so excited to share with you my FOURTH Art Inc Lives Among Us Installment! Thank you to everyone who submitted photos of your copy of Art Inc with the hashtag #artinc on Instagram. It was again very hard to choose just 25!
If you are interested in purchasing a copy, you can get one here on Amazon!
Have a great weekend, friends!