As an artist, illustrator and animator, Lisa’s creative spirit ripples through the household where she lives with her husband, son and daughter. She has always been an artist, and has a long list of accomplishments, but now she is dedicating a period of time to making her art into a business, using the family dining room as her studio.
You have to protect your life as an artist. It’s like having all the tabs on the computer open all the time and that openness requires focus. I don’t multitask. I fully focus in with a project or an animation.
How do you describe your creative work? What are you working on now?
I think of myself as an artist although I have always found other ways to support myself and family. Last September, I made a jump from making art to making and marketing my art. I am a 2D visual artist making fine art paintings and commissioned backdrops. In the last four years I started drawing on my iPad.
The iPad drawings were coming together quicker than the paintings and the drawings were fluid and intuitive. The ‘studio’ times for making iPad drawings were consistent, in the morning and evening and riding the bus to and from downtown Saint Paul on a daily basis. With limited time and home responsibilities, the iPad was allowing me to build a body of work. It was also a portable studio and was fulfilling a creative outlet.
What is unique about your specific creative process?
I have a couple processes. I draw and animate on my iPad and print out the images.
The app I use has a playback option and I realized that if I planned my drawing it would play as an animation. I made about 17 short animations and these were shown with story and sound and presented at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum for the U of M Center for Spirituality and Healing Nature-Based Therapeutics conference April 2013. A long name, but a wonderful, ongoing program that I have been involved with on and off for many years. I asked Karen from Public Field Guide to write music for one of them.
I also draw with a brush and sumi ink on rice paper, illustrate books, and have started stop motion animating with this medium. MNKINO is the Minnesota chapter for amateur movie and animators led by Oahn Vu. I have been a part of this during the Art Shanty Projects and also MinnAnimate led by John Akre and Beth Peloff.
In the above video, Lisa’s daughter Signe and her friend can be heard working on their own spoken word version of a poem called “To This Day Project” by Shane Koyczan.
Another medium is painting which I have done the longest and have painted backdrops and murals and fine art paintings.
And I teach. I recently did my first artist residency at Galtier elementary making stop motion animations on iPads. I incorporated the science teacher, writing teacher and we also used math, art and of course technology.
What goals do you have with making art?
This is the first time after my kids are older that I have really been able to focus on starting my art as a business. It has been just a few months and I’m really excited but also aware that it’s a journey. I am just trying to throw my net wide and be open to ideas and at the same time reflect to evaluate whether various ventures are paying off and or if they are fun. Great if they fit both.
Seven months ago, you decided to dedicate a period of time to building your art as a business. How did this happen?
The leap came when I started to print the iPad drawings, wishing they could be in stores and galleries. It was a good time to focus on the business of art. I had a head start with an already large body of work that was consistently growing.
It has been several months now and I am continuing to learn about marketing, branding, connecting, clarifying a business plan and trying to make a dream a reality. I am pretty sure now that I can make things happen with smart business decisions and grow this little business. Though I am not a full-time artist, this time has been like an art residency for me and I am happy to continue with my other career part-time while continuity to grow the art business.
How do you anticipate being able to sustain this?
Making income as an artist has given me more time at home with my kids. My studio is the dining room which is central in the house and I am available for family. This transition has been what I have wanted for a long time.
Good things keep happening daily and I am grateful for the time to say yes to art leads. I believe now that if you jump in the river the river will carry you, a quote from a friend that was certainly more left brained than right. I think with her logical brain and sarcasm she would also add that you better start swimming as well.
When you’re an artist, half of the time is marketing, the other part is making. I’ve been working really long hours making stuff, so I have a lot of work that I can start to organize and market.
What is your daily process during this period? How much time do you spend making and how much time do you spend marketing?
My daily process is to work and work and work. My days are full, making this a business with two teenagers at home. I still draw new work almost daily and now the marketing takes up more time.
I am not sure I believe in perfect balance of time. It’s hard right now to balance it all. I think that more balance will emerge with marketing and licensing and delegating out some of my ideas. My goal right now is to push inertia. Push this little rowboat out into the lake. My calendar is full with a daily running list.
Wonderful things keep happening every day which I am thankful for. It’s always good to take notice of them. There are stressful things as well but I believe now like never before, I have something to offer and a message to my kids to follow their dreams.
What obstacles have you encountered that you have overcome, or have yet to overcome?
Figuring out the business end. I also think a lot about branding. I have this thought about farming and how as artists we really are creative and are creating a polyculture rather than mono crop. We are creative and it is very natural to try different things and explore new materials versus staying with one thing. This is how I can give myself credit for being interested in several different art forms. Another goal is to start to publish books. A few are finished and ready to go.
What are a few of your favorite collaborative experiences?
I do love collaborations. It’s nice to be working with other people and not always alone. In the last several years again the iPad has been part of my collaborating. Animation lends itself well to collaboration. There is the visual and the sound and the story, so again, the Nature Heals conference was a great collaboration.
Lisa Sackreiter was the writer for that story and since have worked on a rice paper animation called “Lucky Bucket.”
I have also loved painting backdrops. I did that for a long time for a dance school in south Saint Paul. We worked together for so many years that it was like clockwork. First she told me all the songs that would be used, then some focus ideas, then I gathered ideas and made a plan and drew it out and painted it. Our daughters were the same age and both started helping me with the painting.
I am now enjoying illustrating books with a couple writers. I think that this will be one of my ongoing ventures. There are always lots of ideas. I just need to figure out publishing.
“Strong in the Rain” is a story of generosity by Kenji Miyazawa, illustrated by Lisa Rydin Erickson. Buy the e-book.
How do you engage with social media?
I like Instagram and Facebook the best. Instagram is fun and I feel that I can be more prolific with snapshots of daily life. It is helping me figure out branding. Twitter isn’t visual and is slow for me but it’s my news feed. I believe in your business model Karen, to meet people and make connections word-of-mouth one at a time.
What have you discovered, during this time, about yourself and your work that has surprised you?
There is a bit of a difference between making my art as a business and doing whatever project I want to do. The iPad prints are taking up more time than other art forms. I still love painting having done that the longest and will add that as a ‘new line.’ Also, I am illustrating books and doing stop motion animation. I am falling into some teaching work also. It’s become apparent, though, that the prints are the focus right now and taking up more time and the others may take more focus later.
Where have you found community in this process?
I have found community by meeting people one by one. It really does happen naturally. My friends have been so supportive knowing that this is really a dream for me and I so appreciate that. It’s also lovely to have support on social networks and finding connections. Form fits function.
What really matters to you? What do you value?
Having time to make art really matters. It’s that quiet time that is energizing and where the work gets done. I value making art and being around to do things with my kids.
Are there ways that your creative process intersects with these values?
Well, it helps to have the dining room table as my studio. I am always right in the middle of the house and central to whatever is going on. An older mentor said that she thought it was important that her kids knew that she had her own life, that they saw that she was interested in life and was busy doing her own thing. I think that’s important. We all end up adults and doing our life’s work so it’s good to see an example of that when you’re young.
What habits do you have in place that create forward motion in your art?
I love going for walks in my neighborhood. I draw a lot. I write things down on a large calendar. I write what days that I will be working on a particular project to stay focused and break down larger projects into smaller parts. I got together with a friend at the beginning of the year and we dreamed about some goals and wrote them all on Post-its so we can move then to different months for deadlines. I am trying to balance art making and time off but it just takes care of itself somehow.
Lisa’s 3 Tips for Collaborating
1. Know that what you are working on is a separate being. It needs to mold and grow and make it’s path.
2. To be able to direct a project to it’s end point requires leadership.
3. Schedule projects.
Upcoming Shows and Ongoing Exhibits
In the MSP Airport, G Concourse
Forage Modern Workshop
Saint Paul Art Crawl
April 26, 27
May 16, 17, 18