Why It’s Never Too Late To Be An Artist: An Interview with Lisa Congdon

Do you think it’s never too late to be an artist? Or is there a cutoff point in life when to give up on your artistic dreams? Our guest for today is shaking up the notion that you can only pursue your artistic path when you’re young.

Why It’s Never Too Late To Be An Artist: An Interview with Lisa Congdon

Lisa Congdon is an illustrator, and a fine artist. Her work is in the Museum of Modern Art’s store, Harvard University, and Martha Stewart Living to name a few. She also has a wonderful book called Art Inc.: The Essential Guide to Building Your Career as an Artist.

Even though she grew up in an artistic home, Lisa didn’t pursue art as a living until later in her adult life. She was an elementary education teacher for most of her 20s and worked in an education non-profit during her 30s. But that shifted when she ended a 10-year relationship with another artist.

Lisa was lonely after the breakup and had a lot of space to fill in her life. Her brother also ended a long-term relationship about the same time, and he was questioning what to do with the rest of his life much like Lisa.

He went back to school and had to take an elective so he chose a painting class. The class was on a Friday night and he didn’t want to go by himself so he asked Lisa to join him. She said yes and was immediately smitten. Lisa took a few more classes with the teacher and also began painting in her apartment. Then she took a few drawing classes and began experimenting with all types of art from drawing to painting to sewing to cooking.

Lisa talks about what happened next in this episode of The Portfolio Life, including how many years it took for her work to become a part-time source of income and then a full-time source. You’ll definitely want to hear her inspiring journey, and her advice on how you can follow suit.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Show highlights

In this episode, Lisa and I discuss:

  • Did she always know she was going to be an artist?
  • What was it like after she quit her job to become a full-time artist?
  • How did she sign with an illustration agent?
  • How long did it take for her to find her voice and her style?
  • Did she struggle with the starving artist mindset?

You cannot make a living as an artist without relationships.

Lisa Congdon

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Lisa’s timeline for becoming a full-time artist

  • How long did she have Impostor Syndrome?
  • What did Impostor Syndrome stop her from doing for a time?
  • When did she make the switch to focusing on her art full-time?
  • Why does her art look so different today versus when she started?
  • What’s the one way to know which artistic medium is right for you?

It’s never too late to pursue our dreams.

Lisa Congdon

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How to start thriving as an artist:

  1. Experiment. Start thinking differently!
  2. What is possible? Pretend that everything is possible and think of what you would have in your life.
  3. Find what is stopping you. Look at what is getting in your way of success. Is it your mindset? Is it your relationship with money?
  4. Map it out. Make a map of what it will take to get to your dreams, and then start taking one step at a time.


Have you been letting age or anything else stop you from pursuing your art? Share in the comments.