Lisa Ragland is an illustrator and calligrapher. She has a day job, but her joy is in finding (and causing) those little interruptions during the day.
“Writing has always been something I enjoyed growing up. My mom would doodle while she was on the phone all the time, she was into calligraphy. Growing up in school I was very into looking at the teacher’s handwriting and seeing how it differed from person to person. I would experiment writing like that teacher. If [a teacher] wrote in big bubbles and I had never done that before, I would experiment with those letter forms. I think teachers saw that I was naturally interested in stuff like that, so they would always invite me to write things on the chalkboard.”
“When people talk about ‘What were you doing as a little kid? That’s what you should be doing now.’ …
I was always looking for the things that disrupted the humdrum of the day: sit in your chair, learn the way I’m telling you to learn, listen to your teacher, don’t get out of line, follow these rules. When you draw a silly picture and you get a laugh out of somebody, that was one easy way to use your imagination and get out of those rules for a minute and it’s not hurting anybody. I was the kid drawing tattoos on the other kids at recess. I would draw one and the kid next to them would be like ‘I want one too!’ and next thing there would be a big group of kids around me wanting one."
"My desires are still the same. Life is hard, sometimes you just have to go to work an make that money so that you can … relax a little bit and work some more. To this day I love the little distractions of having a co-worker tell me a story and then … I draw a little picture or a little cartoon of [their story], and it just makes the ordinary bullshit a little bit more fun. If you can get outside of your head a little bit, get outside of normal life a little bit, that’s the most important thing to me. I find that stepping away and letting yourself have a laugh actually enhances one's ability to refocus, re-frame, and tackle any task with more energy. Don't get me wrong, it's easy for me to fall into over-focus and forget to laugh. I have to remind myself to practice this constantly. Surrounding myself with people who know how to flow between getting really stupid funny and really stupid down to business is key. ”
There was a little debate recently about a drawing you posted to Facebook. A few people got upset that violence was directed at a female in this drawing.
“So someone said any violence against women makes me sad. And that made me really sad; that that was the first thing somebody saw. It made me realize how strongly I feel about being able to express yourself. I am a woman. I made this. A man said to me, 'this made me sad.' But I also felt thankful that he shared his feelings with me. I see the exchange as productive.
I did make that in a moment of frustration … That’s what needed to come out in response to that [frustration]. Once I was done with it, I realized, 'OK, I feel better now.' But this is also how I feel when I come home after staring at a computer all day. Sometimes, when things are going on around me, like ‘I can’t believe what I’m seeing, I can’t believe what people are doing,’ I just want to stick daggers in my own eyes. I feel happy having gotten that negative feeling out and turning it into something funny.
… Art is a way of working out your feelings and once you work it out, you, as the artist, can assign new meaning to whatever you make. Then you put it out into the world and you have no control over how somebody else views what you make. They’re going to see it, they’re going to take it, they’re going to process whatever they’re looking at based on what they’re already thinking about, what experiences in life they’ve had. People see what they want to see and that’s a beautiful thing because it’s active. It’s sharing an image and giving it to somebody else [and they can] react to it …
It’s also scary because you have to take responsibility for what you put out into the world. You have to be very solid in your own mind about what your intentions are because people are going to assign meaning to what you’ve done [and maybe it won’t be] what you intended and you have to answer to that. Or ignore it and just let them have their feelings.”
“This is my favorite book of all time. “Miss Nelson is Missing”, James Marshall is the illustrator. It’s about school, I felt very trapped in school … You’re boxed into learning in this one specific way … but I look at this more so as a reminder that not everything has to be perfect. This book, this artist really captured my imagination, his drawings sometimes are really [imperfect]. I’m so hard on myself and one of the reasons I don’t start things sometimes and I procrastinate is because I’m deep down a perfectionist. After awhile it becomes miserable to just not make anything. So I’ll pull this book out to when I’m feeling hard on myself, ‘why isn’t my work polished,’ because I’m not doing the work, you know, practicing enough. And also when you have really fun, great ideas your work doesn't have to be perfect to capture a kid’s imagination.”
“This doll. My friend made it. He’s a costume designer in NYC. He’s worked with a team on Halloween costumes for Heidi Klum and Marc Jacobs , gone to the MTV VMAs to fit Missy Elliot for the return of her trash bag suit, and continues to design independently for the stage. But he is still going through all the things I am going through, ‘Am I doing anything worthwhile? I don’t have anything figured out,’ and he's done A LOT of interesting things! It makes me feel a little better. He made it out of material scraps he had lying around and I keep it in my studio because it reminds me of him and he’s awesome.”
“I don’t have a favorite brush, I’m still in the experimentation phase with them. I’ve been using watercolor brushes from college.”
Krink paint markers - "Made by a street artist. You can get a lot of really great drips from them."
Prismacolor premier brush marker - "Pop it into you pocket or purse. It’s easy and it gives you that nice brush feel when you want to take it with you and sketch."
Pentel brush pen - "It’s actually got this little capsule of ink in it. You can get that nice broken ink brush look with it. Portable, but more messy."
Pentel color brush - "You can dip in water and get nice grey and brushy looks."
Pink washi tape by Scotch - "I’ve got to use tape, so my tape should make me smile."
Black Post-It notes
Book I’m reading now - “How to Fly a Horse” by Kevin Ashton - "It chronicles how we view creativity and invention throughout history."
Fave Instagram accounts
@donalddrawbertson for a flurry of expression.
@advancedstyle because old is the new black.
@elitedaily for a dumb little laugh.
@bangbangnyc because I like tattoos.
@seblester for the elegant way he share's his practice.
@urbanbushbabes because their hair is amazing!