We’re humbled and inspired to be able to work with an impressive creative community on a daily basis. They are our hosts, our guests, our friends, and–quite frequently–our collaborators. And, of course, we want to share as much of their work and words of creative wisdom as possible. So we’re introducing our Makers Series as a way to give a little behind-the-scenes of some of these artists, to witness their processes, and to understand more about the amazing work they share with us.
And who better to start with than the amazing Lisa Congdon?
If you’re a fan of whimsical hand lettering and pattern design, chances are you’ve heard of Lisa. If you don’t know her by name, you may recognize her work. With clients like MoMA, Martha Stewart Living, Chronicle Books, and The Land of Nod, she’s pretty much everywhere these days. She serves up creative inspiration via her daily blog, Today is Going to be Awesome, and through five books she’s authored including Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist, Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, and the soon-to-be-released Fortune Favors the Brave.
Lisa’s work captures an authentic playfulness that we can’t help but love. And we were glad to find out that, like us, she embraces the adventure of travel in her personal life and her work as much as possible. So, when we asked Lisa to illustrate a few of our favorite quotes, we were excited to see what she’d come up with. Of course, she did not disappoint. (See more of that below!) Meanwhile, she shared some of her personal thoughts around travel and just how it relates to the creative process.
Say you’re looking for some good creative inspiration. Where do you go? What do you do?
Lisa: We are very lucky that we live in a time where we can all be armchair travelers. I mean, there is nothing quite like actually getting on a plane or train and going somewhere in real time. But the internet and other print media have made the world so much smaller, and even if you can’t afford a trip or there are other things that prevent you from traveling, there is so much travel inspiration around us — on the internet, in magazines, in books. I love seeing other people’s travel photos on Instagram. I love reading AFAR Magazine and adding new destinations to my bucket list. I love reading books about other places. Right now I’m reading Butterflies in November, an Icelandic novel about a road trip around the island.
Do you have any travel stories worth sharing?
Lisa: Yes, of course! I traveled by myself through Scandinavia and Iceland in 2012 for a month and actually stayed in about six different Airbnb dwellings! They were all amazing in their own way, and all very different. In Stockholm, I stayed with the kindest gay couple in a room in their tiny apartment. Every morning they served me breakfast and gave me tips for where to go that day.
In Copenhagen, I stayed in an apartment where the toilet was in the same space as the shower! I love experiencing how people in other countries manage space constraints. In Helsinki, I stayed in this apartment completely decked out in Marimekko, which is the most famous Finnish fashion and home decor brand, and one of my favorites. It was like a dream come true. In Iceland, I stayed in a guest house right in the center of Reykjavik. I met lots of other people staying in this particular Airbnb from all over the world.
How does travel inspire your creative work?
Lisa: I do travel a lot; I identify as a world traveler and try to go on one trip abroad a year. I am really interested in the nature, art, design, fashion and architecture of different places, and my motivation is usually to see as much of that plus take in as much history as I possibly can. All of this influences and inspires my artwork enormously. This year, I am going to Spain and Portugal for the first time for a month with my wife and I’m already dreaming about drawing seascapes dotted with tiny houses on hills in the background.
Sounds gorgeous already! What is the most inspiring place you’ve visited so far?
Lisa: Hands down, Iceland. It is the most beautiful, other-worldly place I have ever seen.
Who inspires you — in the maker community and beyond?
Lisa: I am really inspired by people who live unconventional lives and figure out how to do things like travel or volunteer their time or embark on big creative projects. Being an entrepreneur and artist is really hard work and requires enormous dedication, but it also leaves us with certain freedoms to structure our lives in ways that regular 9-5 jobs don’t. I am continually inspired by people who use that freedom in interesting ways, and I am beginning to think about how I can do the same. Artist Elle Luna and the Stockman sisters of Blockshop Textiles are really good examples of people who do this, but there really are so many.
Finally, tell everyone a little backstory on your illustration project with Airbnb:
Lisa: For this series of illustrations, the team at Airbnb gathered some of their favorite travel inspiration quotes, ones that exemplified the meaningful reasons we travel — to experience adventure, take risks, see things we’ve never seen before, and to make connections with people we’ve never met. I wanted all of my pieces to communicate that carefree, open-hearted spirit.