Whether you are an artist, a designer, a writer, a blogger, or whether you think you have that one artistic bone in your body, by the end of this episode you are going to know how to find your creative voice.

Want to Find Your Artistic Voice? Here’s How with Lisa Congdon

This conversation with illustrator and author Lisa Congdon is about tuning into your creative voice, which has so many applications whether or not you identify as an artist.

We come at this for those who are artists thinking about their creative voice as well as for those who are trying to figure out who they are, what they have to say, and maybe get in touch with their creative side.

On what led Lisa to write Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic:

Every artist has experience with finding their voice.

A few years ago, Lisa asked her followers what they wanted to learn from her.

More than anything, people wanted to unravel the mystery of what their voice and style were.

How do you show up one day and all of your work looks like it comes from the same person?

She wrote a blog post about it, which her editor read and thought the content could actually be a book.

The book is full of anecdotal stories from her own process, so in some ways it’s autobiographical in addition to being a guide that includes interviews with 11 amazing artists.

Until she actually found her artistic voice, Lisa too was confounded by the process so she thought a guide could be really helpful.

A lot of people will talk about an artistic voice as a style, especially those who are visual creatives.

But so much of it comes from life experience.

All of the things you find beautiful or inspiring is all part of your voice.

“Your voice is really your superpower.”

Once you have a style, the skills to make it happen, and your subject matter is consistent, you can start to make things without much struggle.

Still, struggle is part of the creative journey.

It’s never completely easy, but once you find your voice, you can show up and do something with more fluency.

A good indicator that you’ve found your voice is when you reach the place where you’re in a flow.

For people who aren’t artists (or don’t see themselves in that way):

Lisa didn’t even start making art until she was in her late 20’s and early 30’s.

“Every single human being is creative and has creative potential. It’s like a muscle that needs to be worked.”

You have to go through a period of growth.

Your particular stance on something is going to be unique and different than anyone else’s.

Quality and taste aside, we all have the ability to create something new every day.

If you let go of the outcome, get into exploration, and embrace practice, you can get there.

On practice, fear, and showing up:

The circle of practice, fear, and showing up doesn’t go away with age, but it changes with experience.

Expressing creativity is an emotionally vulnerable experience.

For a lot of people, it’s terrifying- sometimes we can’t make what we want to and other times it feels too personal to share.

There are so many aspects to creativity that feel vulnerable.

Everyone is born creative, but many people say, “I’m not going there because it’s too uncomfortable”.

“The fear is just a feeling.”

You can feel uncomfortable and still show up.

It’s normal to feel uncomfortable, in fact, most people do.

Specific strategies:

1 | Create projects for yourself that have specific goals.

Part of finding your voice is developing your style and building your skill at whatever your medium is.

One way to do both of those things is to do a daily project for a period of time.

You can’t show up and draw something every day for a month or a year and not get better at it.

2 | If you have the ability, find a quiet space to make your art.

3 | Give space to what you are interested in– reading, brainstorming, making lists.

Then, figure out how to translate that into artwork or writing.

What do you find beautiful or interesting in the world?

4 | For children who may feel stuck: give your child visuals of what they’re interested in.

Children are innately creative, but at a certain point perfectionism takes over.

Remind them that part of what makes art beautiful is that it doesn’t look exactly like the thing.

The point is to practice and make things, it isn’t to make an exact copy of a subject matter.

It’s okay to look at pictures and be inspired by other artists, especially for children.

5 | Change things up.

Take a class and change your surroundings.

Find a new place to create.

“Openness to new experiences is critical to creativity.”

Art should be a joyful experience.

On what Lisa is excited for right now:

Lisa has gotten to a place where she wants to support other people in their journeys.

She’s working on a science book about the periodic table of elements geared toward 10 – 14 year-olds, which is coming out next year.

She is also illustrating a toddler’s book for another author.

A third book she’s working on is advice for young people going out into the world.

Lisa is also going on a book tour this fall and then taking a break the next year so she can get messy, explore, discover, and get unstuck.

On what it really means to be healthy:

“The measure of my health… is this ability to be okay with not being a perfect human, to embrace all of the things about me that are either different or weird… understanding that the wholeness of yourself is actually what makes you an interesting, beautiful person… Getting to a place where we can embrace our own humanity in its full-spectrum.”

Let the act of practice be enough.

Let the thing that you’re doing be an end in itself, rather than a means to an end.

Guest Bio

Illustrator and author Lisa Congdon is best known for her colorful drawings and hand lettering. She works for clients around the world including Comme des Garçons, Crate and Barrel, Facebook, MoMA, REI, and Harvard University among many others. She is the author of eight books, including the starving-artist-myth-smashing Art Inc: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist and her latest book Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic (August 2019). She was named one of 40 Women Over 40 to Watch in 2015 and she is featured in the 2017 book, 200 Women Who Will Change the Way you See the World. She lives and works in Portland, Oregon.


Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic

Check out Lisa’s other books


Connect on Instgram @lisacongdon

Visit Lisa’s space in Portland at 687 N Tillamook Street, Portland, OR (hours: Wednesdays and Fridays 1-5 pm)

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