inspiration

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

Hi there. How are you? 

The creative life can be hard to navigate. Sometimes you need a little guidance or a little encouragement to keep you going. In the past few years, I've noticed a deluge of books on the subject. Working at the public library, I've had a chance to read many books about the creative life, and I thought I'd share my favorites with you. 

 Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

Books that have provided me encouragement along my journey as a creative. Click through for purchase details. 

5 Books for Creative Encouragement

These titles have all provided me with practical guidance on my own creative journey. (Note the word PRACTICAL.) None of these books offer pie in the sky, get famous fast solutions. Instead, think of them as creative pep-talks, each with actionable steps you can take to live your best creative life. They're NOT just for visual artists, but for anyone who has a creative pursuit.

1. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Written by the author of the smash hit "Eat, Pray, Love," this is my absolute favorite book on the list. Though Gilbert discusses her own creative process as a writer, the sage wisdom she doles out is applicable to anyone with a creative pursuit. She encourages creatives to NOT quit their day jobs. When your creative pursuit becomes a job, you've got more pressure to produce and it often takes some of the joy out of it. She also puts to rest the myth of the suffering artist. Making good art doesn't have to be torture!

2. Steal LIke an Artist by Austin Kleon

This is a very quick read filled with practical advice in a graphic style. Kleon purports that "Nothing is original, so embrace influence, collect ideas, and remix and re-imagine to discover your own path. Follow your interests wherever they take you. Stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring—the creative you will need to make room to be wild and daring in your imagination."

 One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

One of my the many humorous illustrations by Martha Rich inside "Your Inner Critic is a Big Jerk"  by Danielle Krysa.

3. your inner Critic is A Big Jerk by Danielle Krysa

After reading Danielle's blog "The Jealous Curator"  for years and religiously listening to her podcast "Art for Your Ear", I was quick to purchase this book. In her humorous, light-hearted way, Danielle lays out her 10 truths about what it means to be a creative person.  Cheeky illustrations by Martha Rich throughout the book bring even more levity to the discussion. Using anecdotes from successful artists and from her own life, Danielle discusses creative roadblocks, like "Imposter Syndrome," when you feel like a fraud, insecure about your art and creation process. (Boy, can I relate?) She also offers simple, practical exercises to help you get over those roadblocks and get down to the business of making good work. 

 One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

One of the awesome handwritten spreads inside "Show Your Work" by Austin Kleon. 

4. show your work by Austin Kleon

In this follow up to Steal Like an Artist, Kleon explains how to "Share Like an Artist."  In his signature style, combining handwritten pages, illustration, and text, he lays out 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered.  This is another quick read with actionable advice to help you get your work out there. 

5. Growing Gills by Jessica Abel

More than any of the other books on the list, Growing Gills provides a step-by-step process to help you find your creative focus.  Complete with a downloadable workbook, this book is like your own private workshop, helping you build focus to finish your creative work. 

I've read and re-read these books. 

They're all that good! I tend to grab them off my shelf when I'm in an artistic slump or feeling like a fraud again. These little creative pep talks sure do help. 

* As an Amazon Influencer, I earn a small commission when you purchase the books I've listed through these links. It's a small way for you to support the work I do. (Thank you!)

Anything I should add to the list?

Do tell! Leave a comment and let me know. I'm always looking for inspirational reading.

Ciao! Jen

Sending My Love to You

Hi there. How are you?

Creativity can be a crazy, illusive thing. Sometimes you just have to be patient and wait for it to come to you. Patience is definitely not my strong suit, and I have a tendency to beat myself up when things are not flowing for me artistically. In my head, I'm sure I'll never have another good idea, I'll never make another good drawing, and I'll never sell anything again. Luckily, I know and recognize these patterns and have learned to just give myself a break when my artistic mojo is waning. 

As soon as I let go of that worry and anxiety, inspiration will find me once more.  After a couple of weeks of making sub-par work, my inspiration finally returned to me this weekend! I spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday in my studio making new things. Hooray!

Here's a couple of the things I made.

 Illustrated greeting card by Jennifer Johansson. Click through to purchase.

Illustrated greeting card by Jennifer Johansson. Click through to purchase.

Love you. Mean it.

The sentiment on this card comes from Jen, one of my dearest friends. Sometimes shortened to "LUMI", this phrase is sent in texts, uttered at the end of phone calls, or said with a hug at the end of the night among our group of friends.

Though this was intended as a Valentine's Day card, you could send this anytime you want to send someone some love through the mail!

 Illustrated greeting card by Jennifer Johansson. Click through to purchase.

Illustrated greeting card by Jennifer Johansson. Click through to purchase.

Sending My Love to You

I drew this envelope pattern in my sketchbook months ago with the intention of making this card. I couldn't ever get it quite right and make it work until this weekend! That pencil. Don't you love it?? It's my favorite part.

Like the "LUMI" card, this card would also make a great Valentine or anytime greeting. Both cards are blank on the inside for you to add your own message and come with a matching white envelope. You can get both of my new Valentines in my shop, and I'll ship 'em just as soon as you order.

That's all for Now

I've got to get back to making before this wave of creativity leaves me again! Expect to hear from me next week. Ciao!

 

Why Chairs?

Hi there. How are you?

One of the last pieces I made before my art-making hiatus was this chair. As my long time readers know, I have a real thing for chairs, and have illustrated them for years. Though this chair series started on a whim, I kept on drawing chairs because I find them profoundly interesting. Chairs have personality and style and often serve as stand-in for people in my work. 

With composition, text and even lighting, a chair can look sad.

Sad Chair Illustrations by Jennifer Johansson

They can be happy and lighthearted too.

Lighthearted Chair Illustrations

Most of all I drew chairs because they were fun to draw.

I like the way I could make them pop off the page with light and shadow. I liked drawing chipped paint and rust, spindles, and cast shadows. I also liked my patron's reactions to them. In the beginning, every chair I produced would sell within a year of it being made. That's really gratifying!

Even though I haven't been drawing chairs so much anymore, I still seek them out and photograph them when I'm out and about.

Here are some of the chairs I've photographed recently.

Abandoned Chair
Scratch Brewery
San Diego Coffee Shop

And here is the chair that inspired my most recent chair illustration.

I took this photo out at the home of our friends Kelley and Tom. I sure do love a good, worn chair! I decided to make the chair red, so that it popped from the background. It felt, good to make a chair again. Like riding a bike, it all came back to me.

This chair piece, entitled " The Livin' is Easy" is now for sale! Click the link below to snatch it up.

And one more thing...

Do you have a special chair that you'd like me to illustrate?  Do get in touch.  I love doing custom pieces.

Ta-Ta for now.