well hello there!
I'm Laura Fisk, and I'm an illustrator (obviously!)
Through my work I’m always trying to convey joy and humor with the undertone of real care and love. Even if that character is a dancing apple, they have an epic story to tell! If I could illustrate/write a book as hilarious, touching, and full of life as “The Monster at the End of this Book” that would pretty much be everything. My background and true art love is in printmaking, especially screenprinting.
I'm thrilled to have my first book I illustrated out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, "Sleeping bags to S'Mores," an intro to camping book. I also own a small paper and household goods company called Fisk & Fern that features giant coloring sheets and a whole bunch of Funny Food characters who live on dish towels
My work has been featured in Buzzfeed and Parade Magazine amongst other wonderful places. I live in Austin, TX with my husband, young son, and our dear pug-mix, Figgy.
A little more about me
As a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a "cartoonist" and make greeting cards. Pretty specific, huh? And both of those did happen in their own way! That floors me. As a kid, I drew and wrote so many stories about characters, not even fully realizing that it could be a job I could really do. I don't remember a time I didn't draw.
...And what about now?
I’ve had the opportunity to do a whole range of projects which keeps things interesting! But, when pressed, I’m most interested in telling illustrated stories and imaging and creating the world that the characters live in. That could be a picture book, an illustrated classic like Alice in Wonderland, or it could be a grown up book (Camping, anyone?) with all sorts of illustrations. It also means something like a board or card game or a non-fiction nature kit for kids. There’s so many stories to tell in so many forms, and it’s really cool to be able to explore those worlds.
And the real truth of it? Working with fun passionate people to solve creative puzzles is the most fun thing ever.
What are some of your other interests?
Reading and Books- I've loved reading since I was a kid and it's always been my escape. I'm pretty much am happier when they're nearby. Old picture books and great 2 or 3 color books are definitely favs that I'll always buy. I enjoy a complicated character, good YA fantasy, or memoir. My favorite book I’ve read in recent years is The Starless Sea.
Rarely have I met a craft I don't like and have gone through knitting, weaving, sewing, many paper craft phases, and currently into Punch Needle. Some day I really want to get seriously into quilting. And I'm kinda a big nerd and love podcasts, TV, and movies way too much, don’t even get me started.
Nature walks as a family are really important to me so we pass on love of nature to my kiddo. It’s so strange that his view of nature will be so different than my New England woodsy roots. His will be cacti and big skies.
What are your favorite mediums and tools?
Working in procreate on my iPad truly changed my work for the better and allowed me to work more fluidly, and anywhere - which has been so important as a parent to a young kiddo. That said, I'm always working with traditional media. Anything printmaking - screenprinting, block print, etching? I've tried all of it, and found that screenprinting really fits with my work and have been at it for over 10 years. I also love soft dark pencils, am forever searching for the perfect pen, and spending time lately with acryla gouache and those watercolor art crayons. Anything that gives me a strong color. Experimenting with different mediums is so important because it makes everything feel new and fresh and exciting.
Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Austin?
I grew up in Connecticut, spent a few years in PA, graduating from Penn State, and then lived in New York City for about 10 years. We moved to Austin in around 2011, when my husband started his production company here. It truly was an out of the blue move but I'm so happy we landed here. Except it is very hot. For way too much of the year.
What's with all the pugs?
What's not to love?! Long story, my husband always wanted a pug - which cracked me up at first. Like, who actually has a pug? Don't they only exist in calendars? But, when we moved to Austin, we adopted our sweet Salsa pug, who we lost last year, Through her I fell in love with these loving squishy dogs! We just adopted a new sweet pug-mix named Figgy. Pug people for life! I actually found pugs really hard to draw for awhile, as they're practically living cartoons. They have a very high standard of cuteness.
Did you go to art school?
Nope! I majored in “Communication Disorders” which is undergrad for Speech Therapy. I realized I am not the most patient person and would be doing clients a disservice (and let's be honest, my heart wasn’t in it). Somedays I wish I went to art school, sometimes I’m happy I didn’t. Kinda a late bloomer to be honest. But, I have taken more continuing ed classes than I care to count, and thank goodness for it. I never say I’m self taught because I’ve learned too much from too many people.
Especially because I didn't go to art school, finding creative communities and getting involved in them over the years has been one of the most important things! I'm currently the Illustration Coordinator of the Austin chapter of SCBWI and am on the board of the screenprinting co-op studio I print at. Both these places have shaped my art, career, and given me such rewarding friendships, and it's pretty cool to shape decisions and give back.
What jobs have you had?
My career path to an illustrator has felt at the very least, random! I now have a collection of skills that oddly come in handy more often than you would think. My first job was working at a rubber stamp store in high school through college where I started to find my confidence as a maker and love for printmaking by carving way too many rubber stamps. Growing up, my mom had a frame shop in the basement, which was honestly the best. So, in college I got a job woking at an art and framing store. After college, knowing Speech Therapy wasn't for me, I worked in advertising in "strategic planning". That meant I went to a lot of focus groups and tried to understand what brands mean to people. Then started my business Fisk and Fern, that focuses on silly products for your home such as dish towels and magnets. So! It's been a bit of a wander, in all sorts of different creative communities, but grateful for it.
Who are your creative heroes?
Sandra Boynton, James Marshall, Jim Henson, Sister Corita Kent, and Leo Lionni - all of these folks I loved so much as a kid and their work still inspires me so much today.