Here at the Incubator, we’re big fans of illustration; to us, pictures are the most important part of every story, and we love tracking down the artist behind our favorites. I fell in love with Lisa Congdon’s work recently, and was delighted to learn more about her passion for libraries, and how library research influences some of her most well-known projects. Enjoy! ~Erinn
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work. What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?
My name is Lisa Congdon and I am an illustrator. I work in all kinds of mediums and my work lands in all kinds of places: books, wallpaper, stationery, journals, magazines, textiles, just to name a few. I also write a blog called Today is Going to Be Awesome where I talk about my work, my life, and what inspires me.
Right now I’m really excited about a project I just started with Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. It’s called The Reconstructionists, and it’s a yearlong celebration of remarkable women who have changed the way we see the world. Every Monday in 2013, we’ll publish an illustrated portrait (by me) of one trailblazing woman (artist, scientist, writer), along with a hand-lettered quote that captures her spirit and a short micro-essay (by Maria) about her life and legacy. The project just launched and we’re super excited about it.
Have libraries informed your creative work? Tell us about the first library you remember playing a part in your artistic development.
I love libraries so much. My favorite library in San Francisco is the main library, and when I started making art about 14 years ago, this was the first place I went! I still go there often to check out books, especially reference books that are out of print or too expensive for me to buy. It was rebuilt in the 1990′s to be completely modernized, and it’s a really beautiful and thoughtful place, with a map room and history rooms and even a used book store!
Can you describe a particular library-incubated project for us?
I love to read, and I began collecting quotes from my favorite authors and thinkers and hand lettered them last year for my 365 Days of Hand Lettering project. The project began as a way to get better at hand lettering, but in the end, it became a project about celebrating the words and ideas of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers.
As an artist, what would your ideal library be like? What kinds of stuff would you be able to check out, and what could you do there?
Artists draw from so many sources, not just visual. So while it’s obvious that I’d want my ideal library to have lots of books on art and photographs of famous or interesting people or books on different cultures, I’d also want books about science and nature, books about design, books about history, and of course fiction! Anything that stirs my imagination. I have a particular interest in Scandinavian culture and design, so a special section with every book ever written about that topic would make me giddy.
Lisa Congdon is a San Francisco-based fine artist and illustrator best known for her colorful paintings and collages. Her vast catalog of work includes illustrations for Chronicle Books, Harper Collins Publishing, and Simon and Schuster, among others. Lisa is also known for her hand-lettering and pattern design, and keeps a daily blog of her work called “Today is Going to be Awesome.” She lives in the Mission District of San Francisco with her partner, chihuahua, and two cats. She works in her light-filled studio a few blocks from her apartment. Visit her website at www.lisacongdon.comPin It