Secrets Slideshow: Studio Visit with Lisa Troutman of Drawn Well

Design can be a tedious craft, but since Lisa Troutman launched her illustration company Drawn Well about a year ago, has been making fun projects — and had fun making them. Lisa’s style fuses illustration and design, and sometimes pulls inspiration from vintage books that have been passed down from her grandmother, which really makes her work stand out.

View the slideshow here on Flickr.

Photos and interview by Kelsey Johnston

Secrets: Where are you from?
Lisa: I was born in Los Angeles, but I consider myself a Minnesotan at heart. I’m a product of everywhere I’ve spent a considerable amount of time: from Pittsburgh, PA for design school Carnegie Mellon to Skillman, NJ where I interned at Johnson & Johnson as one of two of their first in house designers at corporate HQ,  to Fort Wayne, IN where my first job out of school was designing long haul sleeper cab interior strategies to Dublin, Ireland where I got a work visa and ended up in the shoe department at British retailer Top Shop.

Secrets: Tell me about you recent work.
Lisa: I’ve been doing lots of creative work for this fantastic soul band called Robinson Caruso Organization. They’ve got great ideas and lots of knowledge of period and genre specific work they like, so they’re expanding my own horizons while also giving me loads of creative freedom. To date Drawn Well has put together couple of a posters and their EP packaging; such an honor! Drawn Well also recently exhibited in its first poster show: Aveda’s environment themed Artisan Activist. Otherwise, I’m in the midst of last minute wedding planning details–the big day is May 14th–so I will be refocusing on client work at the end of May with a new website and new marketing materials.

Secrets: Where do you pull your inspiration from?
Lisa: Absolutely everywhere. Instagram and Twitter have turned into a valuable tools for cataloging intriguing things spur of the moment, as well as checking out what other people I admire are interested in. I keep tabs on a host of blogs such as i love dustgraphic-exchange and everything in the under consideration family from Brand New to FPO. Beyond the web, it’s SO important to continually acquire experiences and artifacts in your own life that uniquely inspire you. My fiance and I love trolling through antique stores for vintage ads, catalogs and magazines. On top of that I have a nasty fashion and interior design magazine habit.

Secrets: Where do you find the line between illustration and graphic design?Lisa: My biggest clients come to me exclusively for illustration, which is its own challenge, because I often have only a vague idea of their overall application of each illustration. For instance, I’ll know what I’m producing is for unlimited usage on a website, but I won’t necessarily know the complete context in which my images will appear. Vital Findings recently blew me away with the quantity of Drawn Well’s work that is tucked throughout their website. My smaller clients seem to prefer more combination one-stop-shop illustration/design projects. As as I’m formally trained as an industrial designer it took a while for me to hone that competency and confidence. Since I don’t have any co-workers (other than Uli the pug) thank goodness my fiance is a multi-faceted designer who always has good ideas and isn’t afraid to offer a good solid critique. Now that I feel great doing both illustration and design (read: doing design as long as there is SOME illustrative component), I love the variety and hope to keep it up, though I will say it makes marketing Drawn Well a bit of a challenge.

Secrets: What is something valuable you’ve learned since starting your business?Lisa: When you believe in yourself, want to exercise some creative muscle, and you truly want to switch careers and rebuild your life, AND you have the right support network, ANYTHING is possible. What they say is true; particularly this terrific Ira Glass quote.

Secrets: What’s the best part about Minneapolis?
Lisa: I want to say it’s the restaurants because we have SO many amazing affordable unique places to eat. But I think the other true draw is the variety of creativity and creative resources to be found in every corner of this city and the whole state for that matter. You can have anything you want here, you just have to suffer through a little bit of winter.

Secrets: What’s your favorite establishment in Minneapolis?
Lisa: The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts is hands down the best spot to get inspired for its world class curation and variety of collections. But the place I go most to reconnect with people (and pretend like I have co-workers) is Wilde Roast. They’re moving soon, but I will follow them anywhere.

Secrets: Childhood dream career.
Lisa: I wanted to be a paleontologist. I still love natural history museums. The NHMA and the Page Museum (complete with partially submerged mammoths in  authentic tar pits) in Los Angeles are my absolute favorites. Hindsight is 20:20–I was drawn to the fantastic qualities of pre historic life, the dioramas and the illustrations used to describe it, not the back-breaking tedious scientific work actually required to move that industry forward.