Creative Role Models: Lisa Congdon

creative role models

I'm starting a new series where I write about the people that inspire me to be more creative every day: the people who live and breathe creativity and are using their passion to make the world a better place. You can find more inspiration posts here, here, and hereWho is Lisa Congdon?

She's a successful artist and illustrator based in San Francisco (thought she's been mentioning moving to Portland), and I've been following her blog and her Instagram. According to her website, she does commissions for all kinds of big name companies like Martha Stewart and MoMA. She has also written some books, including Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artistand teaches courses on Creative Bug and Creative Live.

What’s so great about her?

Both her illustration work and her fine art are cheerful and exuberant and make me smile. She has a vast range, seemingly moving effortlessly from realistic watercolor paintings to wacky patterns and surface design, to intricate pencil drawings and hand lettering, to abstract paintings. I love all of it.

How has she inspired me?

In so many of the interviews I've read, Lisa talks about how grateful she is to be doing what she's doing, and how happy it makes her. She's the perfect example of someone who followed her passion and is now living her dream life. She's also very open about her process and her journey as an artist, and very honest about the nitty gritty work of making a living as an artist. Every time I see a new interview with her (and she already has tons on her website) I jump on it because I'm so eager to hear about what she's up to now. Her perspective on life is as colourful as her artwork and following her story makes me want to give my all to the work that I'm doing with joy and abandon.

What does she do that’s different than others?

The thing about Lisa that really caught my attention is the fact that she didn't start painting until she was in her 30s and didn't make art professionally until her late 30s. She never had any formal art training. It reminds me that I have time, and helps me get over the feeling that I should be at a certain point in my career by now. Everyone has to follow their own path and Lisa Congdon is a shining example of that. You don't need an early start, you just need to work hard and consistently at something that lights you up.


From an interview on The Great Discontent: "When you discover that you love to do something, it might be challenging or even frustrating at first, but something keeps you going back to it for whatever reason. For me, drawing and painting and making collages was something that I knew I wasn’t super skilled at when I first started, but it brought me more joy than anything I had ever experienced in my life."

“I think when you’re doing something you love in the world every day—if you get up and you’re excited about what you do, it’s good for everyone.”

From an interview on Design Sponge: "I think, overall, the thing that I am most grateful for (which is, in turn, my greatest success) is that I can get out of bed every morning and draw pictures for a living. I never went to art school or business school. I am regular person. It took me some time and thousands of hours of practice, and I definitely learned from other people, but I mostly figured out how to do it by myself. And I’m proud of that."

Check out some of her amazing past projects: 365 days of hand lettering, The Reconstructionists, Collection a Day