Reflections on Overwhelm



I realized this morning that I had not written a blog post with more than 50 words in a long time. And that’s because I’ve been really, well, you guessed it: BUSY.

You may recall if you’ve been reading this blog for a few years that I’ve expressed here — more than once — that I do not like the word “busy,” and that I was going to try to avoid using it. But the truth is I keep coming back to that word to describe my life, along with words like “buried” and “slammed” and “overwhelmed with work.”

You’d think if you heard me talk like this (or received one of my “sorry I can’t help you right now I’m drowning in deadlines” email responses) that I was, in fact, miserable.

But the truth is, I’m not miserable.

I just have a shit-ton of work, and I am very happy about having a shit-ton of work, which makes me think I should probably question my dramatic word choices (e.g.: “buried” & “drowning”), but that’s another blog post entirely.

After my keynote address at Alt Summit last week, there was a Q&A for the audience, and a woman stood up and asked me about what happens when you begin to have opportunity as an artist or entrepreneur: the combination of excitement you experience (yay, my work is finally in demand!) and also distress (but I cannot say yes to everything! how do I decide? what about my kids and family? I’m overwhelmed!). It’s the side of success that we don’t talk about. We work so hard to build our careers; we want opportunity. We want to have so much opportunity that we can make choices about who we work with and the kind of work we make. But then when it happens, it can feel really hard and overwhelming.

So what I told this woman is that when I begin to feel overwhelmed with my workload and all the “please work with us!” emails in my inbox, I remind myself that I chose this. I chose this life. I worked hard for all those years specifically so that this busy life would happen. And while understanding that I chose the busy career I have now doesn’t alleviate the stress of the deadlines or occasional freak-outs (e.g: how on earth am I going to finish my next book before April 15?!?), it does keep me from feeling like a victim or complaining needlessly.

And the fact is, if you can choose to have a career that is full of opportunity, you can also choose to take breaks, say no to things when you don’t have time, take vacations, and even sleep in some mornings.

On that note, I am off to try to knock all 18 things off my to-do list today by 5 p.m. so that I can go get a manicure at 5:30.

Have a great Wednesday, friends.

CATEGORIES: Personal Essays

Linework NW // Special Guest



Friends, I am so excited to announce that I am an official Special Guest at Linework NW 2015, an illustration and comics festival in Portland Oregon, April 18 & 19 at Norse Hall.


The coolest thing of all is the Special Guest company I’ll be keeping: illustrator & comics artist Lisa Hanawalt, animator, character designer and illustrator Jay Howell, and one of my heroes, Ghost World creator, Daniel Clowes (!!!).

I’ll keep you posted on the events scheduled for the weekend and when I’ll be hanging around and what I’ll be doing closer to the dates. For now, mark your calendars!! It’s FREE!!

Have a great Tuesday, friends!


Guest Instagrammer for Sakura of America



Friends, this week I’m guest Instagrammer for my favorite pen company, Sakura of America, over on their Instagram account. I am going to be sharing some of the ways I work with Sakura products, both in my sketchbook and in my work as an illustrator. I hope you will come follow along!

If you haven’t seen it already, don’t forget to take a look at my post about the giveaway that Sakura is holding this week in honor of National Handwriting Day!

Have a great Monday, friends!


National Handwriting Day // Giveaway!



Friends, did you know it is National Handwriting Day? To celebrate, my favorite pen company Sakura is holding a week-long Instagram giveaway. To be considered, write your favorite quote on a piece of paper and post your image on Instagram using the hashtag #handwritesakura. Special points if you use a Sakura pen to create your masterpiece!

On January 30, Sakura will choose 7 winners to receive a prize consisting of the items in pictured above. The giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada, and you must be over 13 to participate.

The full rules are listed here.

On a separate but related note, I’m guest Instagrammer for Sakura starting Monday, so stay tuned over at their Instagram feed!

Have a great weekend, friends!


Words for the Day // No. 56



One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite writers.

May we all live our truth.

Happy Wednesday, friends.



Heading off to Alt Summit!



Friends, I’m headed to Salt Lake City tomorrow morning to Alt Summit, a business conference for bloggers and creatives. I was asked back in early December by the organizers to give the opening keynote address (gulp!) for the conference, and I am so honored. I attended Alt in 2012 and never could have imagined that I would be flying to the same conference three years later to stand in front of hundreds of attendees!

And that’s the thing: you never know what life will bring. “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable,” Mary Oliver once said.

If you are attending Alt Summit, I hope you will say hello.

While I’m away I’ll be blogging, so stay tuned for regularly scheduled programming.

Have a great Tuesday, friends!


New Phone & Device Case!



Friends, I’ve released a new phone & device case today! It’s pictured above (on an iPhone) and below (on a Samsung phone) and it’s available for just about any phone or device under the sun. You can purchase this particular design here and see all of my phone/device case designs here.


Happy Friday!


Words for the Day // No. 55



Have a good Wednesday, friends!



Some Recent Sketchbook Spreads



As you may know if you follow me on Instagram, I keep a regular sketchbook in which I create intricate spreads with various mediums. Today I thought I’d share with you some of my recent work in my sketchbook. For all of these, I used some combination of Sakura of America pens: Gellyroll pens, Koi brush pens or Micron pens.

If you enjoy keeping a sketchbook or would like to start, I offer a Sketchbook Explorations class through Creativebug and it’s never too late to start!





Have a happy Tuesday, friends!


Sketchbook Explorations // Week 2



Friends, tomorrow begins Week TWO of my latest class on Creativebug called Sketchbook Explorations. If you are interested in taking this class, it’s not too late to sign up! In fact, this class will live on the Creativebug site forever, and you can take it at your own pace whenever you like.

This week we’ll be diving into creating collaged backgrounds and layering over with line drawings of flowers. This week there is also a live video chat with me on Thursday at 11 am PST where you can ask questions!

Have a great week!


New Prints in the Shop!



This new black and white print entitled Folkish is available here.

And I have also relisted this Swedish Chairs print:


Have a great weekend, everyone!


Art Inc. Lives Among Us :: Installment 3



Friends, it’s time for the THIRD installment of Art Inc images that you’ve posted on Instagram! There were so many this time and I had a hard time deciding on just 25 of them! These are from all over the world – as far away as Spain. All of your submissions were wonderful, so thank you for playing along. To be part of a future montage, just tag your photo of Art Inc. with #artinc. And be sure to use a full square image.

You can view the first #artinc montage here, and the second here.

As always, you can purchase a copy of Art Inc. here.

And if you are interested in learning more about becoming a working artist, I also teach a class over here, which you can download and watch at your own pace.

Have a happy Thursday!


Pattern Camp is Back!



Friends, I’m so excited to share with you that Jessica Swift’s Pattern Camp is back! If you missed the first round of this class last Fall, there is another opportunity to take it in February. What is Pattern Camp, you ask?

Pattern Camp is a 2-day, intensive, weekend-long virtual, online pattern design workshop created + taught by my good friend and fellow illustrator, Jessica Swift. It’s pattern design boot camp!

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 we 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.

I highly recommend this course for anyone wanting to learn to make repeat patterns! Here’s a little video preview:

If working through the course in 2 intensive days doesn’t jive with your schedule/life/time zone, you can 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 $199 USD January 6-8 ONLY. Regular price $239 USD, beginning on January 9, 2015. Register here!

Have a happy Wednesday, friends!


New Online Course: Sketchbook Explorations!



Friends, I’m so happy to let you know today I am launching a brand new four-part online class with Creativebug called Sketchbook Explorations! You might remember my the online course Basic Line Drawing that I launched last year (you can also still take that one!). This class has a similar format but entirely new content and activities.

Watch the preview of the course here!

Each of the four parts is released one week at a time, and this first week is all about creating watercolor backgrounds and layering with a line drawing. You can make a spread that looks like mine, or use the inspiration to create your own totally unique spread. That part is up to you.


The following weeks we’ll do some collage with paper and work with pens as well (I’ll be back next Tuesday to share more about the content for Week Two). Throughout the course I’ll share some of my process and you’ll have the opportunity to learn alongside me. I cover materials you’ll need, composition and technique. You take the course at your own pace — it lives on the internet forever, so there is no rush! In the 2nd week of the course there will be a live chat with me that you can tune into to ask questions and learn even more.

Head over here to learn more, watch preview videos, sign up for my class or get a Creativebug’s subscription if you don’t have one already. It’s a steal at $9.99 a month (and you can take as many classes as you like and can cancel any time).

In the past students from my course have posted images of what they’re making on Instagram. If you do take the course, be sure to follow me @lisacongdon and tag me & use the hashtag #cbugsketchbook in your images so that I can see what you’re making!

Hope to see you in class & have a great Tuesday!


My New Website is Live!



Friends, I am so happy to announce that my new website is live! Head over here and take a look. We are still working out some glitches & working to make it more responsive for mobile devices. but it’s up an running and I couldn’t be happier. I worked with the amazing, patient and talented Sara Jensen Design again on this one (Sara also designed this blog). There is information on my new site about books, classes (I have a new one launching tomorrow, so stay tuned), public speaking, my portfolio and clients, and so much more.

Happy Monday, friends!