Lisa Cinar’s passion for drawing and belief that creativity is an essential part of both child and adulthood has brilliantly created a lifestyle that embodies her youthful spirit. Lisa, an accomplished author and teacher runs Draw Me A Lion ,which offers fun illustrations for any age! Not only does Draw Me A Lion feature vibrant quirky illustrations, it also offers items that invite the buyer to help make the pieces come to life (genius idea: giant colouring posters!)
As our featured August Maker, Lisa was kind enough to share with CAC some of her thoughts on illustrating, nurturing creativity and what inspires her. After you read about the magic behind Draw Me A Lion, Lisa shares a special offer for CAC readers!
Explain what you do in five words or less.
Create things I love.
Why the name Draw Me A Lion? Do lions mean something significant to you?
Lions stand for courage and I also happen to think they are very beautiful. I wanted to include the word “draw” into the name because drawing is my favorite thing to do and is the foundation for all of my projects. Then I remembered asking other people to draw me things when I was a child and it all fell into place. Once I had the name I realized the connection to “The Little Prince” as well as Reggio Emilia and I knew there was a reason for it.
What does your studio/work space look like?
Sometimes it’s quite chaotic and sometimes it’s beautiful and organized. It really depends where I am in the process of creating something new. I need organization to start and get inspired. Once I start, everything falls away and I just focus on the task at hand. When the project is done, I clean and the circle starts anew. Having said that I love to surround myself with things that inspire me. I’m not someone with a ton of white space on my walls. Then again, maybe if I had more space… my studio is tiny.
What is your most used or most important piece of equipment?
My hands, my brush pen and my sketchbook. No question about it.
What is your favorite part of Draw Me A Lion?
A while ago I would have just said coming up with an idea for a new project and making it. I do love drawing so getting to do it and getting paid for it is amazing, but now that I have been running the shop for just over half a year I am really also loving pretty much everything else about it. For example when people who I’ve never met before write me to tell me that they like my work and it makes them happy or reminds me of their childhood. That’s so fantastic! I also love seeing my work in shops that I know and admire. It’s a great feeling.
What artistic projects are you currently working on (either related or not related to Draw Me A Lion)?
I always have way too many projects on the go. Right now I’m in the process of making a new colouring item for the shop among other things. In my other artistic life I’m always trying to finish at least one new picture book idea of mine. Lately I just haven’t had the time. But it will come.
Your illustration style is quite unique, how did you develop that?
I teach illustration and the subject of style of course comes up. I always tell people who take my class that I think ‘style’ is something that comes with feeling comfortable with yourself and with time. It’s not something you can really consciously work on I don’t think. I’ve looked at artwork and drawings and illustrations for years and I’ve tried different things and through this eventually arrived at something that I feel very free expressing myself with. I encourage my students to try a lot of new mediums to see which one they feel most comfortable with.
What is it about illustration that fascinates you?
I am completely in love with storytelling. Illustration is all about storytelling but visually. There is always an implied narrative in an illustration but you can tell it so many different ways. This fascinates me. I also love the unique combination of images and text that can be achieved with illustrations. The words and the pictures don’t necessarily always match up.
What is currently a favorite artwork that you have made?
I really like how my new “Summer Time” print turned out. It started on one of my days off. I was just wanting to do some watercolours for fun, not for a specific project and this image of a cat in flowers came out. I made it a print for Draw Me A Lion and it’s the first print that is just from a watercolour. I like the feeling it gives. It’s that lazy Summer feeling. I have it hanging at home in a wooden Ikea frame and it looks really nice in there. I think even my dog likes it ;)
You share a lot of personal childhood photos and stories on your blog. How has your childhood influenced what you do today?
I can remember a lot from when I was a kid. Not everything, but that overall feeling of things. It’s different than how most adults today perceive the world. Today for me as an adult I try to hold on to that feeling and perspective and embrace it when it shows up. It’s a much slower and more beautiful view of the world. It allows for wonder and magic to happen. I think I have especially embraced this feeling again in my drawings and artwork lately. Anything can happen. It’ s a very freeing and joyful feeling.
How do you balance your personal and business life?
It’s hard right now when you’re starting. I find that I’m working and lot and it can be very draining sometimes but the thing that keeps me going is that I really love doing this. It’s so rewarding! Also, I do take mini breaks. For example I just went on a four-day camping bike-trip to Washington. It was so needed!
How do you nurture your imagination in your daily routine?
I can tell if I haven’t been paying enough attention to my imagination. It lets me know by making me a bit grumpy. I take my dog for walks each day and that gives my brain time to percolate and think things over or just space out for a while. That “not doing anything” downtime is really important for new ideas to arrive.
Any suggestions for our readers on ways they can nurture their imagination?
I think the most important thing is to find some time to relax during the day and to write and draw things out right when they come to you. If you make time for creativity it will show up. You might need to be patient at first, but then it’s usually very punctual.
What magazines and/or websites do you frequent for inspiration?
I look at a lot of sites and magazines but I really like to switch it up instead of just looking at the same ones consistently. Some of the ones I do find myself coming back to are Uppercase , Book By Its Cover and Jillian Tamaki‘s site.
Do you have any favorite places in Vancouver to go for inspiration?
Anywhere you can see the ocean and anywhere you can be surrounded by flowers. There are so many of those places here. We’re lucky! I also love bookshops and get a lot of inspiration from them. Some of my favorites are MacLeod’s, Kidsbooks and Lucky’s Comics.
You have multiple blogs that you update as well as the Etsy shop, how much time do you devote to staying in touch with your fans/ customers through social networking?
My shop is an online shop and so it makes sense to post a lot online. I try to post one interesting thing a week at least and check in over the rest of the week. I really like this part of the internet that lets you reach out to people so easily. It’s so great to connect with people from all over the world.
What is your favorite children’s book when you were a kid? What is your favorite children’s book as an adult?
I never had one favorite book as a child and I don’t have a favorite book today either. There are just too many that I absolutely love. But If I have to pick two only I ‘ll say Pippi Longstocking as a child and The Moomins by Tove Jansson as an adult.
What are your goals for the remainder of 2012 for Draw Me A Lion?
I’m really excited because one of my favorite book stores. Kidsbooks, just started to carry Draw Me A Lion at their location on Broadway here in Vancouver. My goal for the rest of the year is to get a couple more retailers and maybe make something new and exciting in time for the holidays. So much to do and so little time.
Lastly, any art or business mistakes/advice you want to share with aspiring makers?
Yes, make sure you are starting your business because you love it and it’s your dream. When you have to work long hours it’s your motivation, and if your heart’s not in it, it wouldn’t be worth it in my opinion.
Special Offer for CAC readers!
20% OFF your entire order from Draw Me A Lion online shop.
Just enter the Promo Code: HELLOCAC during checkout.
Offer valid from Aug. 27th to Sept 27th, 2012.
Let’s get nostalgic! What was your favorite picture book growing up?