This Art Crush entry has truly been a long time coming. I first came across Lisa Congdon by way of Meighan O’Toole’s former art blog and podcast, My Love For You (which is post-worthy in its own right–it was an enormous source of inspiration for me during my college years). While I definitely gravitated to Lisa’s work on a visual level, it was her personal story that drew me in. Freelance illustration had been her second career. She didn’t start painting or making art until she was 31, and here she was, participating in museum-level shows, working with clients like Chronicle Books, and just being a genuine, successful badass. Lisa is not only someone I look up to artistically–she’s also a prime example of a human being.
Lisa’s art career was secondary, after she accumulated over a decade of experience in the education and nonprofit industries. By pure chance, she stumbled into a painting class and began making art of all kinds from that day forward–fueled by pure joy instead of the desire to succeed quickly. Having always been an avid collector, her random ephemera would find their way into countless collages as well as a series of photos, drawings and paintings that would eventually make up her A Collection A Day project. As she continued to develop her craft and share it with the ever-expanding Internet, people began to catch on. Today, she is an accomplished and prolific working artist, blogger, illustrator, public speaker and writer. Some of her most notable clients to date include The Land of Nod, The Museum of Modern Art, Harper Collins, 826 Valencia and Martha Stewart Living Magazine.
Lisa unabashedly tackles the subjects she is most passionate about, and that fearlessness is expressed effortlessly in the execution of her work. She describes herself as a “visual junkie,” and is deeply inspired by patterns, travel, architecture and vintage packaging, just to name a few. A faithful blogger, Lisa writes about her own process in addition to other artists whom she admires, as well as her life “outside the studio,” which includes swimming, biking, sewing, and traveling. In other words, she’s just making all of us look bad! (I only kid.)
One of the reasons I relate to Lisa’s work is due to the versatility and ever-evolving nature of her aesthetic. Certain characteristics like neon hues and her penchant for all things Scandinavian are mainstays, but she continues to branch out and explore all kinds of mediums (block printing and calligraphy, to name a few). These explorations fuel her work and expand her direction, which is most recently geared towards abstract painting. She’s a wonderful example of why you don’t need to narrow yourself down to one specific style (something I often grapple with).
Lisa is quite a unique artist in that she is not only a creator, but a mentor as well. Breaking into freelance illustration can be a challenging and solitary undertaking, and she continues to give her generous time to those who wish to pursue and learn more about the field through classes, speaking engagements and conferences around the country. I first met Lisa at her first Freelance Illustration class at Makeshift Society back in December 2012, and it was one of my most pivotal learning experiences to date.
Lisa recently released her new book, “Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist,” which is a revolutionary and timely answer to the starving artist stereotype. It covers all areas of the freelance artist’s domain, such as photographing fine art, finding printing services, copyright, and diversifying income. It sits on the shelf above my working desk (I like to call it my “VIP” shelf) as I reference it constantly.
On that same note, I’m very excited to be taking Lisa’s “Become A Working Artist” class through CreativeLive next week! You can follow along with the class virtually by RSVPing here.
Meg Hunt is a fabulous illustrator and hand-letterer, although her aesthetic is informed by the printmaking process as well. In her own words, she’s inspired by “a sense of delight and the ability to tell stories.” She’s a self-described bookworm, nature buff, and former aspiring Muppeteer.
It’s obvious that Meg has a sincere love of nature and animals, a fondness acquired during childhood and one that flourished once she moved out west. A native of New London, CT, Meg attended the University of Connecticut and received a dual degree in printmaking and illustration. She’s mentioned that attending an interdisciplinary college aided in her own abilities to explore and play within her art–while there are obviously some pros and cons of attending state schools, I definitely agree with her sentiment on this. After finishing up college, Meg moved out to Phoenix, AZ for 4 years, then to settle in Portland, OR.
Meg turns to a variety of literature and comedic podcasts to help her draw out ideas. Her process shifts between analog and digital–she employs different physical tools such as watercolor paint, powdered graphite, mechanical pencils, wax pastels, and many more to add texture to her final compositions.
In addition to her work as a freelance illustrator, Meg has also taught at Portland State University and currently teaches Visual Techniques at Pacific Northwest College of Art. She is represented by Scott Hull Associates and her client list includes Nickelodeon Magazine, Junior Scholastic Magazine, Radiolab, Chronicle Books, and Threadless.
Andrew Holder is a mixed media illustrator currently living and working in Los Angeles. He graduated from Art Center College of Design with a BFA in Illustration and his impressive list of clients include Etnies, Google, Herman Miller, Lonely Planet, National Geographic, New York Times, NPR, Print Magazine, Sub Pop Records, Target, and Urban Outfitters.
I love his geometric compositions and vivid colors. I enjoy looking at his work and trying to visualize the process and methods he used to create it.
Jenean is a Memphis-based artist and designer whose colorful and unique patterns grace stationery, wallpaper, fabrics, rugs, giftwrap, stationery and other surfaces and products. She licensees her work to companies including Fisher-Price, Sigg, C.R.Gibson, Gelaskins, Free Spirit Fabric and more. I love the organic shapes and bold color combinations that give her collections a distinct look!
I recently came across Mel Kadel’s work, and it’s so unique and special I can’t stop looking at it! Mel’s originally from Pennsylvania and graduated from Moore College of Art in Philadelphia. She now resides in Los Angeles and uses coffee-stained paper, micron .005 pens, hand mixed ink wash, Q-tips, pencil and blades to create carefully detailed and layered drawings.
Mel’s work has shown in numerous galleries throughout the United States and abroad in London, Sydney, and Denmark. Her work has appeared in publications including The New Yorker, Juxtapoz and LA Times Magazine.
Illustrator and designer Jen Skelley is from New Jersey and currently lives in Western Massachusetts. She earned a BFA in design from Syracuse University and began her career working as an in-house artist creating wrapping paper, cards and many other kinds of social stationery. A few years later she branched out and opened her own studio, specializing in cute whimsical illustrations of animals, flowers and birds.
Her impressive list of clients includes Galison/Mudpuppy, American Girl, Mattel, Land of Nod, and Graphique de France. She recently illustrated a nationwide campaign for Sweet’N Low and also sells screenprints of her work in her successful Etsy shop.
Kirra Jamison is an Australian artist born in 1982 in Sydney. Kirra grew up in Byron Bay and is currently Melbourne based. Her work is colourful, collage-like and full of beautiful and delicate pattern. Don’t you love those owls?
I had the utmost pleasure of hearing British illustrator and designer Kate Moross speak last weekend at the Offset Design Conference in Dublin.
At just 27 years old Moross blew the crowd away with her witty banter, unbelievable charm and incredible work. Never taking herself or her work too seriously Moross gave the crowd advice on fear (ignore it), the creative ‘wall’ (it doesn’t exist) and following one’s desires (always, always).
Kate Moross is unbelievably cool and mature and you’ll want to hop on twitter right away and follow her. Be sure to check out her website too for more beautifully illustrated type work and video work and design work and branding and clothing and shoes and and and…is there anything this girl can’t do?
I’ve followed Sarah Watts’ lovely work for awhile, and she just keeps doing more amazing things all the time! Her work is a beautiful combination of line, color, and pattern. She started her career creating patterns and images for Carter’s baby clothing, then at International Greetings cranking out hundreds of images and patterns for stationery, gift bags and other giftables. She then left the corporate world, using all her experience to embark on her successful career as an independent illustrator. Her images and patterns grace book covers, textiles, stationery and paper goods, and much more.
Heather Ross is a talented illustrator and textile designer. Her quirky linework, ingenious use of negative space, and clever perspective create images that are at once charming, traditional, and fresh and dynamic. And those colors! Swoon.