Get to Know Lisa Congdon


Tell us a little about your process. Do you paint everything by hand?

The vast majority of my work is hand painted or hand drawn. I do also make repeat patterns in vector so that they can be scaled to any size, but even those start out initially as drawings on paper with pen. I work mostly in gouache, pencil and ink, mostly.


How would you describe your style? Did you have to develop it, or did it just come naturally? 

While I think I have definitely developed my illustration style over time, I do think it stems from being naturally drawn to a certain aesthetic, and one that I was attracted to even before I became an artist. I have about two distinct styles in my paintings. One is more painterly and one is more flat and graphic. I work in several different mediums but I try to keep some consistency in my work. Orson Welles once said: "Create your own visual style…let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others." I like to think about this when I am creating new work and expanding my portfolio. I use a very consistent color palette whether I am painting with more depth and dimension or whether I am painting illustrations that are more simple and graphic. I also try to use consistent hand lettering in my work and consistent symbols and imagery so that people begin to recognize what I do as cohesive, even if the medium or painting style is different.


What advice do you have for all the young artists out there? 

Practice, practice, practice. The only way to become a better artist is to do what you do over and over again, and to continually strive to get better at it. If you are going to practice, you must love what you do. Find mediums and subject matter that you love working with so that practicing will feel fun. Beauty really comes through when you love what you do.

What do you enjoy about the Holidays? Do you have any traditions of your own?

Christmas is definitely my favorite holiday! I love the trees and lights, baking cookies, finding, making and wrapping gifts for people I love and being around people I love. In my family we open most of our presents on Christmas Eve. It is a German tradition. While we open presents we eat cookies and have cider and listen to Christmas music. One person opens a present at a time while everyone else watches, so it can take several hours! But it is great fun, and everyone takes pride in what they have chosen or made to give to other people in the family. The next day on Christmas my mother makes a big meal for everyone and we get very full!


Tell us about making the 12 Days Ornaments and your inspiration behind it. Which day was your favorite?

It was a really great project! Because the ornaments would be hand painted by other people (and not me), I decided to keep the designs very simple and graphic with lots of bright color and repetition. I think my favorite of all the 12 is Seven Swans a Swimming! I love the colors and composition of that one. It was fun to come up with ideas for what should go on each ornament design and then to find a way to paint it. I really enjoyed the process. 


The Lisa Congdon 12 Days of Christmas Ornaments are available exclusively at The Land of Nod. Each one is hand-painted by artisans making each set unique. Available here.

By Anna Passadori 

Anna develops and designs exclusive product for The Land of Nod. She hails from the west coast and has traveled the world to source product. She loves anything Marc Jacobs, Sofia Coppola or stripes! (So, if anyone can get a photo of Sofia Coppola wearing a striped outfit by Marc Jacobs, please send it along.)