Eileen McKenna Art & Design

Watercolor Art | Creative Inspiration to help you be creative on a regular basis


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Lisa Congdon book signing!

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Last week I took the train to the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, to hear Artist, Illustrator, Author Lisa Congdon speak about her latest book The Joy of Swimming. I have been following Lisa on Instagram for a while, have heard several podcast interviews with her, and really admire both her artwork and her story. Lisa is a self taught artist and didn’t begin creating art until she was 31. Of course the late blooming, self taught artist in me loves this! And as someone whose entire childhood was spent on a swim team, I also loved the subject of the book, which Lisa not only illustrated, but wrote. Lisa was a swimmer as a child and as an adult.

I was really excited to meet Lisa. She was so nice, real, and honest. I really enjoyed how her talk documented the process of making the book. Here is a link to a video interview where Lisa talks with Danny Gregory (author of Art Before Breakfast) about the book, her process, and more.

I took horrible pictures, that I won’t post because it would embarrass myself and possibly Lisa! But, as I ran for the subway after the event, I turned left and saw the most spectacular view, the Manhattan Bridge, the sun setting, and the Empire State Building lit up all in green!

Here are some other photos I took that day.
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Artist, Designer, Painter, Illustrator?

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I was listening to a podcast* today about titles – crafter, maker, artist – and it really got me thinking. I’m always struggling for the perfect way to define what I do, especially when writing a short profile on one of my social media accounts.

For years I went by Graphic Designer. It was a title I was comfortable with. Even when I became an Art Director, which I felt was more of a job title. A Graphic Designer was what I was. I was never comfortable with graphic artist. I guess I’ve always been reluctant to claim the name artist.

Artist definition (Merriam-Webster)

  • a person who creates art : a person who is skilled at drawing, painting, etc.
  • a skilled performer
  • a person who is very good at something

I think I fit the above criteria, but I still feel funny about it. I always think of an artist as someone, who sells their work (often in a gallery setting.)

Usually I go with Graphic Designer/Illustrator. But the graphic design part doesn’t begin to describe my business. When I looked back on my client work over 2015, I spent 40% on web design and development. Not only do I come up with the design of the site, I write the html code. 24% of my time was on print work, which falls under graphic design. 12% was on social media, 12% on logo design, and 8% on email campaigns. These percentages are the “final product” of what I create. But, it doesn’t take into account working with a client on marketing strategy, copywriting, project management, etc.

I feel more comfortable with Illustrator than Artist. But only a little. I’m not sure how many times I have to be hired for illustration, that I’ll finally feel okay calling myself an Illustrator. Often I’m hired for a bigger project, like a logo or website, and I’ll add my illustration into it -because I can. When I started out as a Graphic Designer 20+ years ago, I always used someone else’s illustrations or photos. Lately, my logos have more, and more illustration in them. Like this one:
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The illustration/art might not be a large part of my business, but it’s still something I spend a lot of time on – as you know because you are reading this blog. I doodle, sketch, draw, paint, design patterns, try new mediums, and write about it all every week. I guess I should add blogger to my definition of me. And wife, mother of three, runner, beach girl. Hmm what else? 🙂

*Podcast was “Dear Handmade Life, episode 6: What’s in Your Name?”