The Q&A: Lisa Brown

By Peggy Roalf   Tuesday February 21, 2017

Q: Originally from the Northeast, what are some of your favorite things about living and working in the Bay Area

A:  Now I’m in San Francisco, where I am blissed out by the food, people, politics, and panoramas.

Q: Do you keep a sketchbook? What is the balance between art you create on paper [or other analog medium] versus in the computer?

A: Yes. Sketchbook. For 4 years now, I have posted a sketch-a-day that I’ve drawn in my sketchbooks, one for every day of the year. It has been transformative to my art practice.  I have pretty much forsaken digital art in favor of pen, paper and paint. Except, shamefully, to fix mistakes.


Q: What is the most important item in your studio?

A: The radio.

Q: How do you know when the art is finished?

A: When my deadline arrives.

Q: What elements of daily life exert the most influence on your work practice?

A: I guess trying to find long stretches of time in between teaching, parenting, general life crap, and doing the dishes. I am always trying to build a practice that works better in small stolen moments, but have thus far been unsuccessful.



Q: What was your favorite book as a child?

A: My favorite book as a child was The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright. It’s the story of a doll named Edith who lives in an elegant apartment, all alone, until two stuffed bears drop by and suddenly move in. It’s illustrated with gorgeous black and white photographs and is vaguely kinky, in my opinion.

Q: What is the best book you’ve recently read?

A: Recently there have been so many wonderful things. I was absolutely blown away, for instance, by The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. But a close second was The One Hundred Nights of Hero, by graphic novelist Isabel Greenberg.

Q: If you had to choose one medium to work in for an entire year, eliminating all others, what medium would you choose?

A: Brush and india ink.

Q: If you could spend an entire day away from work and deadlines, what would you do and where?

A: I would walk on the beach and sit in a café and read and draw. It’s really not much different from what I do, anyways.

Q: What was the [Thunderbolt] painting or drawing or film or otherwise that most affected your approach to art? 



A: No thunderbolts—just an absolute love of picture books, since practically day one of life. Though perhaps it was Edward Gorey’s work, which I discovered in high school,  that ate me up, bones and all. He drew a world that convinced you that it had existed at some point, but was revealed, upon close observation, to be one entirely of his own creation.

Q: What would be your last supper?

A: Coffee and cookies. In fact, I’m having that right now. 

Lisa Brown is an illustrator, author and cartoonist. She teaches illustration at California College of the Arts. Her upcoming book is about a dead goldfish.
instagram / twitter @lisabrowndraws
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