Sketchbook Sneak Peek: Lisa Congdon

Over the last few weeks, we’ve taken added a special twist to our usual line-up of “Sneak Peeks.” In addition to featuring behind-the-scenes looks at unique interiors, we’ve decided to showcase the inner workings of some of our favorite artists’ sketchbooks. So far, we’ve taken you through the hand-bound books of Anna Emilia and the eclectic, multimedia work of Courtney Wotherspoon. Today, we’re absolutely delighted to bring you a peek into the work of an artist who is no stranger to any reader of Design*Sponge: Lisa Congdon. One of our all-time favorite artists (and people), Lisa is pretty much the poster-child for prolific creativity—her work as an illustrator, hand-letterer, painter, textile designer, and collecting maven has earned her wide acclaim, numerous product partnerships, and more than a few mentions on our own site (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Her work is at once intricate and playful, a combination of warmth, humor, and what seems to be a genuine, passionate love for the external world. Lisa’s sketchbooks, as more personal extensions of her artistic oeuvre,  reflect this same joyful spirit. After the jump, Lisa shares some of her favorite sketchbook pages along with her thoughts about the art of sketchbook keeping. —Max

Why do you use a sketch book?
My sketchbook is almost exclusively for my personal doodling, idea generation, and, of course, stress relief! I feel like it’s important to have a space to go to get my ideas out, like when I have a flash of inspiration I record it in my sketchbook. I used to not keep a sketchbook, but I have found that it is really useful and after awhile it can become addicting. I also use my sketchbook to work through any angst I’m having. I tend to make really detailed drawings in my sketchbook as a way of meditating. 

What are your go-to sketch book supplies? Are there any brands or media that you’re particularly drawn to?
I have a mixture of sketchbooks because I love collecting cool journals. I like sketchbooks with plain paper — no lines or grids — with a flat, smooth surface. Sometimes I use a watercolor sketchbook and use paint. In general, I also like books that are small enough to fit in my tote bag so I can take them places with me. I pretty exclusively use Micron pens in my sketchbook. Sometimes I use pencil or paint, but not as often. 

Aside from preliminary sketches for larger projects, are there any things that you like to sketch just for fun? What are some things that you most frequently fill your sketch books with? 

I do sketch regularly for clients but those sketches I keep in a separate book. My personal sketchbook is really just my secret diary of drawings and ideas. Sometimes the drawings turn into larger projects. For example, the wallpaper line I designed for Hygge and West started out as sketchbook doodles, and so did the tea towels I did with Poketo.  When you are an illustrator, you draw a lot for other people — you are often executing other people’s ideas (ie: when you illustrate a book that someone else wrote). So it’s important for me to have a place that is just for my personal ideas and doodles — that no one else will see unless I choose to show them.


I love Lisa Congdon! And these sneak peeks, keep it up! :)

Sarah from a fine line

I love this column and Lisa’s sketchbook! There’s something so personal and interesting about seeing inside an artists’s sketchbook! Very nice of her to let us in!


I love Lisa’s work! I had been coveting the “Day One: Vintage Erasers” print from 20×200, but just when I finally was about to purchase it, the site went down and hasn’t been back up (despite my frequent checking over the past six months). I was so disappointed. She’s terrifically talented.


Please keep this new column/articles! It is wonderful so see all of these different ideas!


Lovely! I think my favorite thing is that tiny little diamond next to the fancy W.


I loVe her! So fun to her journaling. I’m so inspired by her and can’t get enough so many thanks!

On a side note, my mom’s best friend saved all my doodles from high school – she loved seeing what I was creating while doodling. It would be fun to see them now as I think we do our best work when no one is looking :-). DooDle on…


I am a huge fan of Lisa Congdon (how can anyone who see’s her work not be?!?). It is illuminating to see some of her personal doodles. Best wishes to you Lisa-I owe you a cyber hug for the inspiration I get from your blog and work in general. Thank you.

Natasha Nuttall

Lisa’s sketchbooks look awesome! I have over 25 new sketchbooks but find it so hard to make the first mark in them as I’m too scared about making a ‘mistake’. I’m going to work on overcoming my ‘sketchbook fear’ this summer – fingers crossed!

Sue Bulmer

OMG, these sketchbook pages are AWESOME! I’m always on the the lookout for artists to feature on my sketchbook series on my blog. I might just have to ask Lisa if I can feature her…. drooling over other peoples sketchbooks is my guilty pleasure!! Thanks, as always, for sharing