Wednesday, February 20

Unexpected Guests: Lisa Congdon.

Oh my-oh-my, this is a really fun visit. We're not going far today (well, at least I'm not), we're paying a visit to San Francisco-based artist Lisa Congdon. A lot of you are quite familiar with Lisa's abundant talents, but if she's new to you, I'll bet you're not far from becoming a big fan. Lisa is a mixed media artist and illustrator who did not begin making art until she was 33 years old, and yet today it is now the most significant part of her life and livelihood. How inspiring! Aside from one painting class, Lisa is entirely self-taught and feels her lack of training works to her advantage: instead of following refined technique, she works with her own sense of color, composition and design as her guide. When she is not making art in her studio, Lisa is at Rare Device, the very cool, design-led shop and art gallery she owns and operates with her friend Rena Tom in San Francisco's funky Mission district.

Have you attended art school, or is your talent just natural?
100% natural.

What is your favorite feature in your home?
The crown molding on my living room ceiling.

What are you most proud of?
Making it on my own.

What's one thing about you that would surprise people?
I am a bit of a hermit.

What is your favorite film?
Too many to name. I love Christopher Guest and Coen Brothers films. I have seen Best in Show and Fargo about 10 times each.

What is on your wish list for your home purchases right now?
I'd love to renovate a tad and build bigger closets. I live in an old Edwardian building that has only two small closets. One I use for coats and the other for all my other clothes. I love clothes and my closets are packed with my clothing and shoe collection. It's hard for me to stay organized with my small closets.

Who is your favorite artist?
Margaret Kilgallen.

What's the last great book you read?

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick.

What's your favorite cafe in San Francisco?

What is your idea of living hell?
Turbulence on an airplane.

If you could photograph anyone in the world, who might that be?
My maternal grandparents.

What are the first signs of Spring for you?
In San Francisco it's all about the cherry blossoms. And right now they are in full bloom.

Who would you like to sit down to tea with?
My maternal grandmother.

What are some of your favorites websites/blogs to visit?
My current obsession is Ffffound. It's an amazing source for visual inspiration. I also love Dear Ada. She posts about different artists everyday. I don't know how she finds the people she does. I am also a huge fan of Jan at Poppytalk. She has an amazing eye for art and design.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Cable TV and Scotch on the rocks.

What is your most treasured belonging?
My three pets.

What is your favorite European city and why?
Paris. So much history and style.

What do you despise?
Waking up to an alarm.

What's your favorite word?

You can shop for some of Lisa's great art pieces in her etsy shop, read more about her work on her blog and keep up to date with upcoming shows and events on her website. Thank you so much for having us, Lisa - I'm sure our visit was as inspiring for sfgirl readers as it was for me, as always!


Anonymous said...

Ooooh, that Oregon print! I don't know if Lisa will read the comments, but if that is available anywhere I'd love to know. I'm a displaced Oregonian living on the East Coast.

Thank you!

jill said...

great interview! i love lookig at the tiny details in the photos since there are so many little objects in each photo. i have that same little brown and white dish as in her first pic. my husband brought it back for me on a recent trip to ny. and i agree about margaret kilgallen.

love lisa's collections. i'm pondering collection of E's... since not an initial in her name???

Anonymous said...

Kate F: The print is by Ryan Jacob Smith. I got it at Reform School in LA, but it's available elsewhere I am sure. Blue: my name is actually Elisabeth (Lisa for short), hence the E's.
Lisa Congdon

Anonymous said...

Lisa, thank you so much! I really appreciate it. (BTW, I also have a photo of your kitchen shelves bookmarked in some blog from a while ago...I have to put shelves up in mine and I liked the cheerful colors of all your different pots and things on yours. My kitchen is dreary.)

AshleyL. said...

i love this post! its personal yet inspiring...and colorful! :)

Aesthetic Outburst... said...

This is such a fantastic interview. Lisa clearly has an amazing eye for...well, everything! She's definitely someone I'd love to go to a flea market with!

lisamarie said...

I've been a fan of Lisa's for a while, not only is her work great but her story is so inspiring for someone like myself who is working towards an independent career of my own. Great post!

Kelly Lynn Jones said...

great post!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the interview and the great pix. So inspiring! I'm a fan of her work, bit who isn't?

Uncle Beefy said...'re such an inspiration, even moreso now :) Love Margaret Kilgallen and miss her artistic presence in the world. Thanks for giving us a more personal peek into your world. :)

Victoria...well I heart your blog...everyday a little more :)

suzannemarques said...

love this blog. instantly one of my favorites now! lisa's life and work are so inspiring.. thank you so much!
(love the side by side photos too. how cute & witty your titles are)

TonicHome said...

That photo of the cats is hysterical! Great post!

sfgirlbybay said...

thanks to everyone!

it's really a big thanks to lisa - it was a fun post to do. it's a bit like visiting a museum, right?

thanks U.B. - you are too kind, as always. :)

and welcome suzanne and any one else new to sfgirl - thanks for checking in!

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Wonderful! What a great home, filled with so much personality and beauty. I saw these little deer in the photos....on the bed and on a shelf. Does anyone know where they came from? They look so familiar.

Anonymous said...

Hi melissa,
The deer was made by my sister, Stephanie Barnes.

oliver rain said...

I love this interview. I've been a fan of Lisa and her sister Stephanie for some time. They both have such an incredible sense of style. Lisa's house is simply beautiful.

Jan Halvarson said...

great interview victoria - and cool to see shots of lisa's studio too!

i'm so humbled lisa likes my site, as i'm a huge fan of her work, her eye for color and placement is one of the best!

Valen said...

bellissimo blog :)

Anonymous said...

I think we all like Lisa's work, don't we? It's hard not to... I liked her work from the first time I saw it, quite some time ago, but as she's featured a lot on blogs etc I was sort of expecting that I'd become a little overdosed and eventually maybe bored with her work. But none of that happened. Not only does she keep trying new things in her work, which makes it surprising each time, I can also keep seeing her older work and still like it as much as when I first saw it. She's just a great talent, and as far as I can see from her blog, interviews etc, she's also a very nice person...
Thanks for the post Victoria!

Nathalie said...

Really enjoyed reading this interview and i find it so inspiring that she started at 33 ! that means that i have still hope to find my call :) i love these inspiring stories ...thanks V.

Esti said...

I love this post. I'm jealous of the talent she possess. But at the same time, she's the most inspiring artist! I keep checking her blog for months now and I'm always in awe of her art. Thanks for bringing her words up here.

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Thank you so much! I knew the little deer looked familiar for a are quite a pair of talented sisters!

Anonymous said...

Where does a person get the "It's Okay To Get Everything I Want" framed print? I want it desperately!

(Great sense of style!)

Anonymous said...

It's by Anthony Burrill. Just google him.

Fine Little Day said...

Great great great!!

jade said...

To me, that is so very encouraging to know that Lisa became an artist at 33!!!!
That's awesome, I love to hear that!

Anonymous said...

what, no picture of the beloved living room crown molding?


Anonymous said...

yes, you're right, she and these wonderful pictures are very inspiring. Love it!

Anonymous said...

Oh no! The Anthony Burrill poster is sold out at the SOMA shop (which is the only online source I could find).

Does anyone know where I can get one?