Illustrator and Fine Artist, San Francisco
San Francisco illustrator and fine artist Lisa Congdon was raised in both upstate New York and Northern California, where she grew to love the trees and animals that surrounded her. That love is now expressed most intensely through her paintings and drawings. Lisa comes from a family of creative people and has been making things with her hands since she was very small. She is also a prolific collector of old and unusual things, including bits of nature, all of which are found in her studio environment. In 2010, she chronicled all of her collections in her Collection A Day 2010 Project. To learn more about Lisa in her own words, listen to this Podcast of Lisa being interviewed by Meighan O’Toole of My Love for You about her work and making art for a living.
What is your favorite collection from the project?
Probably my vintage school supply collection. It was one of my first collections (with the exception of what I collected as a kid). Everyone has memories of school supplies. Those of us over 40 in particular remember some really awesome “old school” stuff from our classrooms.
What was the impetus for taking on A Collection A Day?
I wanted to give myself a creative challenge for the year that was different from drawing and painting, which is what I do for a living.
How do you decide to arrange things?
I wanted things to be arranged on an imaginary “grid” on a white backdrop. I would play around each day that I photographed collections until I got the right arrangement. Arranging is a passion of mine, so it was pretty easy and quite enjoyable for me.
How has your illustration and other work been affected by the blog?
Not too much. When I have gotten some of the bigger press about the project (Martha Stewart Magazine and New York Times), I have sold more original art pieces around that time, which is likely more than a coincidence! I do get loads of emails from people all over the world letting me know that they discovered my art and illustration work through the blog. That is always nice to hear.
Name a few of your artistic heroes?
Patti Smith, Sally Mann, Billy Collins, Dave Eggers
When did you first consider yourself to be an artist?
Not until about 6 years ago. I didn’t start making art until about 10 years ago, and for the first 4-5 years it was purely a “hobby”. When I sold my first pieces and started showing my work, I started to shift my thinking about my identity.
What is the best thing about this studio space?
The natural light that pours in through the enormous sky lights.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve got a lot going on right now, but there are definitely some highlights. I am illustrating several books at the moment, all of which will be released next year, so that is exciting. Two of the more exciting shows I’ve got coming up are an invitational group show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco in February and a show at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in January. And, of course, this time of year I’m always busy with commissions for the holidays. I am really looking forward to 2012 and what it brings!
Collection Images by Lisa Congdon, A Collection A Day 2010