Become a Working Artist on CreativeLive!



Last week I taught a two-day intensive class on CreativeLive called Become a Working Artist (and thank you to my student Alexa Heung for capturing the photo above). You can now purchase the 22-video class on CreativeLive for $99. The course includes hours upon hours of content, tips and exercises you can watch at your own pace (once you buy the course, you own it forever). You can read reviews of the course, watch a preview and see all the topics I cover right over here.

Thank you to the entire crew at CreativeLive who worked on promoting, recording, streaming, and producing my class, my three special guests (Carrie Lederer, Lisa Solomon and Betsy Cordes), my hosts Chris and JKO, and my entire in-studio class (all 17 of you!). And thank you also to those of you who tuned in all over the world to listen, learn and participate. It was a really wonderful experience. Here is a photo of the crew and my in-studio students after we wrapped last Wednesday.


Become a Working Artist, now available for purchase. And, as always, there is my book, Art Inc, a great companion to the class.

Have a great Monday, friends!


Words for the Day :: No. 43



Have a great weekend, friends!


Thank you, Land of Nod!


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Was pretty excited when I found out that the Land of Nod (who I’ve been designing for now for several years) gave my Hygge and West Triangle Wallpaper a shout out in their email marketing campaign yesterday. You can see it here in the background of the room pictured above and you can purchase the wallpaper (in several colorways) here. Thank you, Land of Nod!

I’m playing a bit of catch up after an amazing experience teaching Become a Working Artist through CreativeLive the past two days (thank you to everyone who turned up!), but I’ll be back tomorrow with a recap and some photos.

Happy Thursday!


Author Event with Three Amazing Women



Friends, I am so excited to tell you about the book tour for authors Betsy Greer, Leanne Prain and Kim Werker. These three amazing women have all published really fantastic books in the last few months and are going on a tour together around the US & Canada. The tour, called Make Your Voice Heard: The Intersection of Craft, Creativity and Activism starts this week in San Francisco. I’ll be moderating a panel discuss with these three women at Diesel Books in Oakland this Thursday evening, October 2 at 7 pm. The event is FREE and open to the public. Their books will be for sale and they’ll be signing books after the discussion.

The authors: Betsy Greer, author of Craftivism: The Art & Craft of Activism (published May 2014), Leanne Prain, author of of  Strange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles (published October 2014), and Kim Werker, author of Make it Mighty Ugly: Exercises and Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty (published September 2014). Among other things, we’ll discuss the intersection of craft and activism, the “ugly” side of making stuff.

Not in the Bay Area to come on Thursday? Here’s a list of all the events associated with the book tour around the US and Canada:

10/1: Booksmith, San Francisco, CA, Rena Tom moderating. 7:30PM.

10/2: Diesel Bookstore, Oakland, CA, Lisa Congdon moderating. 7PM.

10/3: MakeShift Society, San Francisco, CA, hands-on workshop. 6:30-8:30PM, $45.

10/5: Tillamook Station, Portland, OR, hands-on workshop hosted by Maker’s Nation as part of Design Week Portland. 11AM-1PM. $45.

10/5: Powell’s City of Books, Portland, OR, Kate Bingaman-Burt moderating. 7:30PM. Part of Design Week Portland.

10/6: Seattle Creative Arts Center, Seattle, WA, Marlo Miyashiro moderating. 6PM.

10/7: Hot Art Wet City, Vancouver, BC. 7:30PM.

10/14: Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, ON, Amy Singer moderating. 5:30PM.

10/15: University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA, Garth Johnson moderating. 7:30PM.

10/16: Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA, Meighan O’Toole moderating. 7PM.

10/17: Brooklyn Craft Company, Brooklyn, NY, Sabrina Gschwandtner moderating. 6:30PM.

10/18: MakeShift Society, Brooklyn, NY, hands-on workshop. 1-3PM. $45.

10/20: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC, Nora Atkinson moderating. 5:30-7:00PM. Free ticket required.

Have a great Monday!


Art Inc. Lives Among Us!



Thank you to everyone who has expressed excitement over reading Art Inc. I never get tired of your photos on Instagram. Tag them #artinc and with my username @lisacongdon. I’m collecting them as we go!

Whether you’ve picked up the book or not, I wanted to remind you that I am teaching a free live online class this Tuesday and Wednesday (September 30 – October 1) through CreativeLive. It’s called Become a Working Artist, and I’ll cover things like self promotion, managing your time, understanding the fine art, illustration and licensing worlds and selling your work online. You can RSVP for the class here, and if you aren’t available to watch it while it’s streaming live, you can purchase it to watch later here also.

I also want to give a shout out to the students and alumni at California College of the Arts where I’ll be speaking at their Building an Artists Life 2014 event today on the Oakland campus.

Have a great weekend and happy Friday!


Words for the Day :: No. 42




Have a great Wednesday, friends!



On Becoming a Working Artist



Yep, sometimes I feel like a bit of a maniac, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

In 2001, I took my first painting class. I was 31 years old, and looking for something to fill my time outside of my job at an education non-profit. I was slightly nervous. I hadn’t taken an art class since I was a kid. I didn’t even take art in high school or college. I was creative, yes, and I sewed and made crafts at home. But an artist? No way. Would I enjoy it? Would I be any good? I had no idea.

That painting class changed my life. Not in a big explosive way. And not overnight. But it set me on a trajectory that led to what I do today. Fifteen years later, I am a working artist. At first it was a hobby — a hobby that gained momentum and grew exponentially as I grew artistically and as I began to share my work on the Internet, which was relatively new at the time. Then several years later, in 2007, I left my job and began my self-employed life.

Along the way, there was no guidebook for me. I was self taught, and I’d never gone to art school. I was intimidated by the art world and had no clue about the worlds of illustration or licensing. Even selling my work on a platform like Etsy (also new back then) felt overwhelming. But over the course of time, I asked a lot of questions to whoever would listen and I read as much as I could. I tried new things. I kept a blog. As awkward as it felt, I began to spread the word about what I was making through all the ways that were available to me — in hopes that people would buy it, or want to hire me for an illustration job, or ask me to be in a gallery show.

And for a few years, all that effort felt frustrating. Stuff happened (the sales, the illustration jobs, the shows), but it came slowly. My income didn’t add up to as much as I wanted or needed. But the art-making part was so fulfilling to me (in a way I had never experienced) that I kept at it, with the hope that some day I would hit a tipping point and begin to make a regular, full time income as an artist. I was determined.

And then at the end of 2010, I hit my tipping point. And for the last four years I have been in a place of opportunity — sometimes so great that it is as overwhelming as the frustration I felt when I was first starting out. In the course of a few years, I went from starving (not literally, of course) to thriving.

On that path, I learned many things about what worked and what didn’t. I began to write them down. And in 2012 I began to work with Chronicle Books to write Art Inc: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist, which came out this past August. In this book I wrote about all the stuff that I did that led to a steady income, steady work, and an abundance of opportunity so that I could share that information with other artists who are just starting out. I also interviewed almost 20 people — successful artists, agents and gallery owners — on their perspectives about what it takes.

This September 30 – October 1, I am teaching a two day intensive online class through CreativeLive called Become a Working Artist. The class is based on Art Inc, but goes deeper, and will cover things like goal setting and action planning, the nuts and bolts of selling your work, demystifying the worlds of illustration, licensing and fine art, promoting your work successfully and managing work flow. My goal is to give people who are interested in making a living as an artist practical information that will help jumpstart or enhance their process. Whether you are interested in making a full or part time living, this class will give you concrete information to help you on your path. If you watch the class live, it’s free. Or you can watch it later (and take your time with the content) for $79. You can RSVP for the free class (or purchase it now) here.

I hope to see you there.

Have a happy Tuesday!


SketchXchange & Book Signing



{what I drew on the airplane flying home from NY yesterday}

I have written here before about my love for filling the pages of my sketchbook with whatever is living in my brain. Whenever I have a free moment, which lately has been while I am flying on an airplane, I grab my sketchbook and get to drawing.

On Friday, October 10 at 5:30, in Portland Oregon (Portland area friends, this one is for you), I am giving a talk at Leftbank Annex as part of Portland Design Week and WeMake Portland’s sketchXchange & Design Week Closing Party events.

I’ll be talking about my approach to my sketchbooks and sharing images of my sketchbooks. Every attendee with get a FREE Scoutbook with my design and will have the chance to enter to win a huge set of Micron pens (courtesy of Sakura of America). At the event, I’ll be selling & signing copies of Art Inc. and Whatever You Are, Be a Good One. And I’ve got a discount code for tickets, so scroll down if you are interested!


I am offering my readers a discount on the ticket price — which includes not only my talk at 5:30 but also the awesome party & art show that will follow! The code is wemakefriends — enter this code for 50% off when you purchase your tickets here.


{what I drew on the airplane flying to NY last week}

On WeMake’s blog today they’ve posted a little interview I did with their founder, Yvonne.

Hope to see you at the event!! Happy sketching!


New Podcast: After the Jump


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I first met Grace Bonney (aka Design*Sponge) in about 2006. At the time she was relatively new to blogging (and design blogging itself was an entirely new thing) and I was a new artist. Almost 10 years later, our lives & careers have changed tremendously from both the influence of the Internet and the art & design worlds we now live in. We have also become close friends. Grace is like family to Clay and me. So I am totally honored to be featured on Grace’s fantastic radio show & podcast After the Jump, which we recorded this past week in Brooklyn. We talk about my new book Art Inc, along with my family background, my influences, and my path.

I hope you will give it a listen.

And happy Friday!


New Podcast: Raise Your Hand. Say Yes



Friends, I’m excited to tell you about one of my recent podcasts, this one with my friend (and one of my favorite human beings in the universe): Tiffany Han. Tiffany has just started a new podcast series called Raise Your Hand. Say Yes. And I was so honored to be interviewed by her.

Take a listen here.

And happy Tuesday!


Words for the Day :: No. 41



Have a good Tuesday, friends!


Words for the Day :: No. 40



Have a beautiful weekend. I am off to NYC for a week. I’ll be blogging & Instagramming from Brooklyn & Manhattan next week, so stay tuned!


Pattern Camp with Jessica Swift



Friends, I am so excited to tell you about a new class about learning to make repeat patterns being offered by my friend and pattern designer Jessica Swift! It’s called Pattern Camp
and it’s an online e-course that will take place on October 11-12.

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 Jessica 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. Jessica is a fantastic teacher.

If working through the course in 2 intensive days doesn’t jive with your schedule/life/time zone, you can absolutely 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 only $159 through Sunday September 14 (regularly $189). Register here!

Back tomorrow with my Friday post.



New Creativebug Class :: Geometric Painting


eight pointed star 843x504

Today my next class at Creativebug launches! In this new class I teach you how to paint an eight-pointed star.

Play with shape and color as you learn how to make one of my iconic star paintings. In this class, I’ll show you how to draft an eight-pointed star with a template, and then you’ll tape off sections and paint clean, crisp shapes. I’ll also demonstrate how to mix acrylic colors to create different shades for a striking final piece.

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.

lisa with geometric star_lowres

Have a happy Thursday, friends!


New Holiday Card Designs with Mpix!



I’m excited to let you know that I have created some holiday card templates for Mpix! You can use these templates to make your own holiday cards with your own photos. Above are the front (left) and back (right) of “Merry and Bright” which is available to add your own photo here. (In case you are wondering the images inside the cards you see here are placeholders — you place your own photos in my designs.)

Below are the fronts and backs of my other two designs, “World Peace” and “Shimmering Stars“!



Just go to Mpix to add your own photo and purchase! Thank you for supporting my work!

Have a happy Wednesday, friends!