New Phone & Laptop Cases Available!

11/14/14

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Friends, I’ve added a new phone/laptop/device case/skin to my shop! This one is called “Tornado” and it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes for tons of different phones, laptops and devices. You can get this cover here or peruse my entire selection of designs here.

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Have a great weekend!

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Studio Shots by Sarah Deragon

11/13/14

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One of the things I am working on at the moment is redesigning my main portfolio website (new site coming by the end of the year!). I wanted to have some photos on my new site that showed my studio — work in progress, my materials, my random collections, my shelf displays, the light and color in the space. I asked my dear and talented friend Sarah Deragon to come take those photos, and I am so thrilled with what she caught. Sarah is mostly known for her portrait photography (she took my new headshots earlier this fall), but I’m here to testify that she’s pretty skilled at capturing the beauty of a place too.  This is just a handful of the shots she took, but they are some of my favorites. Enjoy.

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Have a great Thursday, friends.

CATEGORIES: Collections | My Studio
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Words for the Day :: No. 48

11/12/14

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Have a happy Wednesday, friends.

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For Sale :: Art for Good Mail Day Show

11/11/14

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I was very honored when Lisa Solomon and Susan Schwake asked me to be part of the Good Mail Day show at Susan’s gallery Artstream Studios in New Hampshire this month.

In the Good Mail Day show 60 artists create 4×6 inch artwork, all originals!

I created the two pieces above.  I have always loved vintage postcards, especially those that contain hand written correspondence. What better way to celebrate the beauty of mail than to use vintage postcards as my canvas. Each of these pieces is made with a vintage postcard, neon pink gouache paint and a tiny tipped micron pen.

These two one of a kind pieces can be purchased online here and here.  SOLD OUT! But many more by other artists still available over here.

Have a great Tuesday, friends!

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Words for the Day :: No. 47

11/07/14

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Have a great weekend, friends.

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My Doodling Manifesto

11/06/14

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Earlier this year I designed this Doodling Manifesto and I realized the other day I had never shared here on the blog! If you’ve taken my line drawing class with Creativebug, you’ve probably heard me talk about some of these principles.

1) In doodling, there are no rules. We all have that voice in our head that says, on occasion, “you should be doing it this way.” And when we doodle, it’s important to tell those voices to shut up. Rules play a really important role in some forms of art making: how to hold your brush, what materials to use, how to create a lush background, on and on. But in doodling, you get to draw whatever you want however you want. And, furthermore, no one but you ever has to see what you doodle. So you have all the freedom.

2) Carry pens and paper with you everywhere. This is important because you never know when the opportunity (or inspiration) will strike. In line at the bank? The waiting room at the doctor? Make your down time (even the boring stuff) less boring with doodles.

3) Make time to doodle every day. Even if you only doodle for a few minutes a day, free form drawing can loosen up your creative juju and even help you process other more difficult stuff, like working through creative blocks or thinking about solutions to life’s problems.

4) Think of everything as lines and circles. You don’t have to “know how to draw” to doodle. Make shapes! Create lines! And if you do want to draw flowers or people or buildings, think of them more abstractly as a collection of lines and circles.

5) You are the boss of your art. You get to draw what inspires you. You get to draw what you want to draw, even if it’s the same stuff you always draw. If you keep a sketchbook to doodle (which I highly recommend), your sketchbook (unless you choose to share it) is your own private place that no one else ever has to see.

6) Imperfection rules. Do you know that Japanese term Wabi Sabi? It translates to something like “beauty that is imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” The idea here is that it is actually the “imperfections” that make something beautiful or interesting. What I often describe as “wonkiness” in art is to me what makes something really cool or different. Embrace imperfection in your doodling.

7) Doodling is art (end of story). Many of the large abstract paintings I make in my studio and sell to clients begin as doodles in pen in my sketchbook. Many of the repeat patterns I create that adorn fabric began as doodles in my sketchbook. Doodling itself, even if it’s never translated to things like canvas or surface design, is art. Every great artist doodles and every great doodler is an artist.

8) Black and white are beautiful colors. While I do use colored pens and watercolor paints in my sketchbook when I doodle, my favorite tools are black Micron pens and white paper. I encourage you to embrace the simplicity of using just one color (even if it’s not black) and even if it’s just every now and again. When you draw in black on white you will find great beauty in the monotony.

9) Negative space is as important as positive space. Whenever I teach line drawing, I remind my students that it’s important to pay attention not just to the marks you are making on the page (the positive space), but also to the white (negative) space that surrounds it. Composition is made up of negative and positive space and how they interact together, so ponder both as you doodle.

10) Everything you draw (even the stuff you don’t like) is part of your journey. It’s important to remember that even when you want to rip something out of your sketchbook because it is SO UGLY (and even if you do, and you can), the exercise of “making mistakes” or pushing something on the page too far when you should have just left it alone (sound familiar?) is all part of the journey of making art (regardless if you are a doodler or a professional artist). We learn & grow from those experiences. It’s important to learn to embrace the ugly, the mistakes, the “that looked so good until I added that color” moments. It’s all part of your path.

Have a happy Thursday, friends!

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Danielle Krysa, aka The Jealous Curator

11/05/14

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{*Rosa’s Garden, 16″x20″, above, left (detail, right) from Danielle’s new collection of work, featured today as part of this interview. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for more information about this collage series.}

On January 10, 2010 I first became acquainted with someone who has become a really important person in my world: Danielle Krysa. At the time, I mostly knew her as The Jealous Curator, and we “met” because she wrote to me to let me know that she’d written about my then brand new Collection a Day project. She was, incidentally, one of the first people to write about my project — she wrote about it just 10 days after I began (the project lasted a year and was written about later by extensively by magazines, bloggers and newspapers). Anyhow, fast forward a couple of months and we had more contact, and then she began including some of my artwork in her blog, and then again featured my work on her blog the following year when I had my first major solo show in 2011. Our friendship was solidified in 2012 when she asked me to host a San Francisco Girl Crush party in my studio, an event where women signed up to come to my studio and spend the day eating and talking about the creative process. Danielle came to San Francisco from Vancouver to help organize and set up the event, which was a really fantastic (and led to many lasting relationships among the women in the room that day). At that party Danielle met an editor from Chronicle who was also in attendance — and since then has made two beautiful books with the publisher, Creative Block and Collage. I am so honored to be part of both of those books. And so happy the kismet of that event has led to so many amazing opportunities and friendships for both of us.

What most people know about Danielle is that she writes a popular blog called The Jealous Curator. Through her blog, Danielle shares the work of artists she admires (er, is jealous of…more on that in a second). Danielle has, four years after starting her blog, become a really important voice in sharing the work of emerging and newly established artists from around the world with thousands of people who read her blog everyday.

What’s interesting is that Danielle launched The Jealous Curator in February 2009 as a place to show artwork that “made her jealous in a bad, toxic, soul-crushing way,” she says. “I was literally getting stopped in my tracks every time I saw work that I loved. It was awful.” But luckily for Danielle she worked through all of that, and five years later, that ‘jealousy’ she says “has turned magically, wonderfully, and thankfully into inspiration.”

And that’s a good thing, because what most people don’t know about Danielle is that she’s also an artist — a really, really talented artist. And she’s recently begun making a brand new body of work after a hiatus. Danielle’s journey as both an artist and a blogger is the focus of my interview. This interview is part of  my Interviews with People I Admire series here on Today is Going to be Awesome.

Without further ado, let’s get this interview with Danielle started!

Lisa: You are a designer and an artist, and you are obviously quite passionate about art in general and the work of other artists. I imagine at some points (maybe even daily) you spend more time writing about other people’s work on your popular blog than you do making your own work. How does writing about art (especially the work of artists you admire) both hinder and help your own creative process? What have you learned about how to manage all of that since you started your blog in 2009?

Danielle: In the beginning, finding art that I loved really hindered my own work. I was discovering amazing, inspiring, fantastic work every single day, and it felt like everything had been done in every color, and all of it was so much better than anything I could ever make (or so I told myself). But as time went by, and my bookmarks list grew, I realized something very important. It dawned on me that the world is a pretty big place, and there is in fact enough room for anyone that wants to create. Sure, your work might not suit every gallery, or every homeowner’s wall, but there will be a place for it. So make it! And now I do. Here’s a strange little tidbit for you though. Whenever I finish a piece I’ll look at it and think “would the Jealous Curator write about this?” If the answer is “no” I keep playing. Weird?

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Lisa: Not necessarily weird, but really interesting! Let’s talk more about that. Recently you’ve reignited your studio practice. What prompted that for you?

Danielle: For years I’ve been telling myself: “Oh, I’m too busy with The Jealous Curator to think about my own art,” but it wasn’t until I started working on my book, Creative Block, that I realized I was totally using that as an excuse to chicken out. Before the book even hit shelves, I started trying the unblocking projects that the artists had given at the end of their interviews. They’re all so good! That got me started, but what really motivated me were all of the conversations I was having with my readers at book signing events AFTER the book came out. All of these people were really putting themselves out there. Pushing through blocks and trying new things “thanks to Creative Block.” I was so inspired by all of them, and I realized it was time to put that whole “practice what you preach” thing into action.

Lisa:  Tell us about the work you are making now. What have you learned, if anything, since you began making more of your own work again?

Danielle: Oh, this is a long answer so I apologize now. Ready? I was a painting major in University. Right before I graduated I had a terrible professor tell me (in the middle of a huge, humiliating critique in front of my classmates) that I should “never paint again.” And I believed him, I guess, because I haven’t painted in 19 years. I didn’t stop making art, but I switched to collage because it was easy and fun and totally didn’t count as art in my mind, because it was easy and fun. Anyway, in June of this year I decided to face my fears head on (practice/preach thing again) and start painting. It was awful. It was not fun. I kept trying, but found myself wandering off to the thrift shop to look for good collage material. I realized I was excited to make collages, and so I wondered, why wasn’t I just doing that? Because it was too easy and too fun.

Then my second book,  Collage, hit shelves in September. I got dozens of emails from painters and photographers saying “Oh, I love collage, but I’m not very good at it. It’s so hard!” What? It’s not hard. It’s easy and fun and not real art… right? A week or two later I was having coffee with an artist in Vancouver, and was telling her the story about the terrible painting critique when I was in university. She asked what the work looked like, and so I described it. “Oh, I was cutting pieces of the canvas out, sewing them back on, gluing pieces of textures paper over it, etc.” She stared blankly, paused and said… “So you mean, collage.” Holy crap. I’d been a collage artist for 19 years and had no idea! A-ha!!!! I have never felt so free, and so excited about making art.

My name is Danielle, and I am a collage artist. Bam!
Sorry. Longest answer ever, but I just had to share.

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Lisa: I love that story so much!!! What is it about collage that you are so drawn to? Both in your own work and in other people’s work?

Danielle: It probably stems from the fact that I’m a graphic designer by day. I love bold/graphic images, and strong composition, and a good collage has both. I also think it’s really exciting when an existing image is given a whole new purpose, and a brand new story, especially when the new narrative has a bit of a wink or cleverness to it.

Lisa: What is your favorite part of your own creative process, the part that is the most exciting to you?

Danielle: It’s all about found images for me. I could spend hours in thrift shops looking through old books. Once I’ve found “the perfect pages” I run home as fast as I can, and then spend hours (literally) cutting and cutting and cutting. At that stage they’re just funny/random clipped images, but very soon they’ll be assembled into a new story that never would have existed anywhere else had I not found them, snipped them, and glued them together. That is very exciting to me!

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Lisa: You published a book with Chronicle Books called Creative Block where you talk to successful artists about their own creative blocks. Why is it important to talk openly about creative blocks? What do you hope people get out of the book?

Danielle: It’s funny how rarely people actually talk about blocks. And you almost never hear people admit that they have inner-critics and self doubt, but everyone does. I think talking about it just makes all of us realize that we’re not alone. As I got the interviews for the book back from artists, I was so relieved to read that even very accomplished, successful artists doubt themselves from time to time. I want people to read the book and know that if they’re feeling stuck or insecure that they shouldn’t give up. They’re part of something bigger: a huge, supportive, like-minded community of creative people who also get stuck sometimes. I want them to do all of the unblocking projects, and I want them to have fun making, because there’s nothing more satisfying to a creative person than making something you love!

Lisa: How do you work through your own creative blocks?

Danielle: Slowly. But they don’t stop me any more. I’ve learned that blocks are just part of the deal when you’re a creative person. I take a breath, realize it’s not the end of the world, and just keep playing around in the studio. There is a quote in the book that I love, by Laura McKellar (an artist from Australia). She said “You should never stop experimenting. That is how you become a genius.” I love that and totally believe it! Playing, failing, experimenting: those are the keys to finding your way out of a block, and the direct route to stronger work.

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Lisa: You write about and promote at the work of other artists every day. Tell us a story about a time when a post you wrote about another artist led to something really cool.

Danielle: Yes! This is absolutely my most favorite part of having The Jealous Curator. Here’s a story that just happened this past spring. An American painter named Anna Jensen sent me a link to her work and I loved it and wrote about it right away. Literally the day after I wrote about her, I got an email from a gallery in Paris. They had seen the post and asked if I could connect them to Anna, as they wanted to give her a solo show… IN PARIS?! So, I e-introduced them and off they went! But that’s not the end of the story. Anna set up a Kickstarter project because she couldn’t afford to get herself, and all of her paintings, to Paris. She had raised a bit of money, but not quite enough, so I wrote another post asking my readers to help get Anna to France, and they did, (and then some)! Her show opened in July and, boy oh boy, I wish I’d been there with her. It was so, so, so exciting!

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Thank you, Danielle, for sharing your story with us! And for sharing your own work and the work of other artists with the world everyday. Thank you also for your beautiful books. You make the world a better place.

{*About Danielle’s work, pictured throughout this post, in Danielle’s own words: This series is called “Rosa’s Garden” and each piece is named after a rose. My great grandmother’s name was Rosa and she lived in a little mint house with lots of roses in the garden. She also lived through the roaring 20’s and had a bit of an edge to her. Yet another reason to love her! These pieces all started with hours and hours of cutting out roses, all the while thinking of her and my grandmother and her daughter, Blanche. The other bits and pieces (including an image of the house I lived in when I was little) found their way into this ode to the women in my family.}

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Tote Bag for Team Sue!

11/04/14

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I am so honored to be part of Team Sue Loves You. Team Sue Loves You is a collective of American artists. We have teamed up to design limited edition tote bags to support our dear friend, artist Sue Eggen of Giant Dwarf, who was diagnosed with colon cancer earlier this year. The intention of the project is to raise awareness to colon cancer and raise money to support Sue as she recovers. Each of the 14 tote bag designs draw inspiration from Sue’s brave journey with the disease. You can see my tote design above.

Sue is one of the kindest, bravest, most positive people I know, and I am so happy to be part of this effort to support her. You can view and purchase any of the tote bags here (and see thumbnails of each of the amazing designs below).

Funds will support Sue’s medical bills and a portion of the proceeds will go to the American Cancer Society, as their support has been paramount to Sue’s recovery during her treatment via Philly Patient Ride.

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Thank you and have a great Tuesday, friends.

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New Poster and Holiday Cards for 826 Valencia!

11/03/14

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If you don’t already know about 826 Valencia, you probably should. Founded in 2002 by writer and artist Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, it is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages six to eighteen with their creative and expository writing skills and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Their services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

To help fund their program, 826 Valencia has a store called The Pirate Store, which is filled with all kinds of pirate themed stuff. Every year, they ask a designer or illustrator to donate their time make a poster or tea shirt to benefit the organization, and this year they asked me! I was so honored and so excited. We decided to go with the theme of Pirate Tea, as famous teatotaling pirate Bartholemew Roberts (aka, Black Bart) loved his tea. The result is what you see above, and these posters are on sale both at the pirate store at 826 Valencia in SF and online here.  This limited edition poster is 18″ x 24″ screen printed with gold and white ink on black paper and for sale for just $20. Get one while they last!

I also designed this year’s holiday card for the 826 Pirate Store, which you can see below and purchase at the store or here online. Each letterpressed bundle contains six cards with envelopes for $20. Cards are blank white inside.

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If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, mark your calendars for a poster sale and pirate tea party this Friday, November 7 from 6-8 pm! RSVP on the Facebook page or just stop by! I’ll be there to say hello and celebrate the release of my new poster and cards. Come for all things pirate and some tea!

Have a great Monday, friends!

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Art Inc. Lives Among Us :: Installment 2

10/31/14

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You may recall that I wrote a post back in September sharing some of the photos that people had been taking and posting of Art Inc. on Instagram. I  never get tired of seeing them! I’m collecting them as we go (tag your photos with #artinc and with my username @lisacongdon) and each month I’ll make a different montage with 25 of my favorites.

This month’s montage includes two different cats (admittedly one is my own, I couldn’t resist), a graffiti covered bathroom wall in Edinburg, Scotland (in the coffeehouse where JK Rowling wrote parts of the Potter series), several cups of coffee (I should have devoted a chapter of the book to coffee) and one tablet device (love this one). Thank you to everyone who contributed! It was hard to choose just 25.

Whether you’ve picked up the book or not, I wanted to remind you that you can now access my online class Beceome a Working Artist and watch all 22 segments (two days worth of content that you can watch at your own pace) for just $99.  The class is based on Art Inc., I cover important aspects of building your career as an artist like self promotion, managing your time, understanding the fine art, illustration and licensing worlds and selling your work online.

Have a great Friday, friends! And remember to tag #artinc for the next installment.

CATEGORIES: Art Inc
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New Podcast: Pencil vs. Pixel

10/30/14

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Friends, I’m excited to share my latest podcast interview, this one with Cesar Contreras of Pencil vs. Pixel. We talk about patience and putting in the hard work. You can listen to it here.

Have a great Thursday.

CATEGORIES: Art Inc | Podcasts
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Lettering for AFAR Magazine

10/29/14

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I was so excited early this fall when I was contacted by Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson, Creative Director at AFAR Magazine (who is, full disclosure, also a friend), about doing some hand lettering for an upcoming issue. Not only was I thrilled because I love AFAR Magazine (and am a subscriber), I was also excited because the article they wanted me to contribute to was about Lotta Jansdotter‘s childhood home, the Åland archipelago.  Åland is located midway between Finland and Sweden. I am both a huge fan of Lotta’s work (and have been for a decade) and a huge fan of Scandinavia. So it was a dream job!

Here are some of the spreads from the article, written by Lisa Abend and photographed by Christoph Haiderer.

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You can read the full article here, and you can purchase the print copy of the magazine at your local book or magazine shop.

Have a great Wednesday, friends!

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New Creativebug Class :: Geometric Paper Collage

10/28/14

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

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

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

Have a happy Tuesday!

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Words for the Day :: No. 46

10/24/14

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So excited that this quote will be appearing in my next book of hand lettered quotes, along with 99 others, to be released Fall 2015!

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On Owning It: I Am An Artist

10/23/14

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

“I am so excited about this book!” one of them exclaimed.

“Oh, thank you!” I replied.

And then I said, assuming if she was excited about my book it must be the true: “You must be an artist!”

The young woman paused with clear hesitation. “Well, I do some graphic design…and I paint in watercolors, but…”

“So you’re an artist,” I replied.

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

I have wondered for a long time why it is so hard for artists — especially women — to own their status in the world. It took me years to identify confidently as an artist. Why are we so hesitant – at least until we’ve graduated from school or until we’ve “made it” — to proclaim, “I am an artist”?

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

For time immemorial society has seen artists as a different breed. We are moody and temperamental. We starve to follow our passions. If we are at all concerned with making money or if we do make money from our work – especially through commercial work – it must mean our intentions as artists are somehow corrupted. From all of this has grown the starving artist myth.

And, furthermore, most of us have been taught – either directly or indirectly – that if what we create brings us any reward at all (financial reward, recognition, even industry awards) that this reward is fleeting. This notion that our careers are built on a foundation of scarcity (which is no foundation at all) has permeated our society and our psyches.

And that is, in part, of course, because art is subjective. Our careers and our future careers as artists are based on whether people like our work, whether it becomes a commodity others want to own or pay us to make. We are always reminding ourselves that we could tomorrow starve, so we better be grateful for what we have today.

No matter how we came into the world of making or selling art, we all believe in some small way (or many of us in some big way) that at any moment it could all go poof! and disappear, that the people who pay for it today could go away tomorrow and pay for someone else’s work instead.

So many of us spend a lot of time feeling like we are lucky at best and that if we are making money from our work we might not even deserve it. Even artists who have been at this for a lifetime may feel like “imposters” in this world, that at any moment they will be “found out” and exposed for not really being talented or legitimate.

This sense of impermanence, of treading lightly, of not knowing whether my future was secure, even after my work was in demand, has been a big part of my story. And I have come to learn from talking to scores of other artists that it’s an incredibly common story.

It has been 14 years since I first picked up a paintbrush. And I spent much of that time feeling like an imposter. I didn’t study art or illustration formally in school. I did not follow traditional pathways to get where I am. Most of what I do most days I taught myself how to do. I don’t even know most of the time if there is better or easier or “more right” way to do what I do.

And for that reason, I used to spend a lot of time feeling inferior; like for some reason I did not deserve the success I was experiencing. And worse than that: that’s what I feared others might think about me too.

But at some point, I decided, this is bullshit.

And then the next part of my story became my internal fight to think in broader, more confident terms about who I am as an artist and what I can accomplish — not just in the near future — but over my lifetime.

I began spending a lot of time reminding myself that regardless of whether this has all been luck or whether I have any talent isn’t what matters. Who cares about that? What matters is that I am happy getting up every day to paint and draw. What matters is that I make my best effort every day to be myself in my life and work. What matters is that I work really hard at my career. What matters is that I am thoughtful about the work I want to make and the people I want to work with. What matters is that once it started, making art for a living hasn’t failed me.

I have also come to own & embrace all of my experience, including my unconventional (and late blooming) path, including feeling like an imposter, including my mistakes, including all of the less attractive parts of my story. Because all of those things, in addition to my hard work & my successes, have helped to make me who I am.

I am an artist.

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

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