Design Links: Laura Park, Wendy MacNaughton & Julia Rothman

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Editor’s Note: This is part 41 in Emily Potts’ inspirational series, Design Links. Every other week she features three artists whose work offers fresh, fun, and stimulating creative inspiration. Each artist picks the next link—someone who personally inspires him/her. Check out the fortieth part in the series, featuring Gina Triplett, Martha Rich & Julie Murphy.

Julie Murphy is inspired by …

Laura Park

I am inspired by Laura’s honest and personal approach to storytelling. Her beautifully constructed drawings seduce you into her philosophical, analytical and emotional universe. While I often express myself using characters and creatures as surrogates, I admire how Laura narrates her own story. She is a fearless communicator. And she tackles some heavy subjects.

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Her sketchbooks are improvisational masterpieces. The visual contrast of loose mark-making and precise, specific details makes me happy to get lost in each page for a long time. She manages to make even mundane activities seem interesting and novel. Laura’s drawings about the process of drawing are particularly engaging as they capture the agony, ecstasy and often routine process of creation.

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This sketchbook spread illustrates a memorable multi-course meal Laura enjoyed at a Chicago restaurant, Next. These exuberant, jewel-like drawings go beyond documenting a meal. They communicate a joyful evening full of culinary adventure. I don’t even need to know what the food was. These ornately abstract drawings make me want to eat this sketchbook page.


Laura Park is inspired by …

Wendy MacNaughton

Wendy has the rare ability to truly capture people and moments. To observe life and transmute it into ink and paper without sacrificing any of the energy and intimacy.

1005_MM_HarMac_Ferguson_LO.indd“The Authorities,” mini-series, by MacNaughton.

In particular, her comics journalism pieces are very special. You have the true sense of a person/moment alive and present right on the page. I don’t know San Francisco well, but through her comics I feel I get to ride along and experience the city in all its textures.

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I’m also a fan of her chart and graph artwork. “The Universe and Forever” manages to communicate more tenderness and emotion and longing than I’d ever expect from a Venn diagram.


Wendy MacNaughton is inspired by …

Julia Rothman

She inspires me because of her mad skills, smart ideas, crazy hard work, and conviction around supporting other illustrators and artists, especially women and young people. When she’s not creating gorgeous drawings and paintings for great newspapers, magazines, companies, or making books, she is using her skills for good through teaching, doing pro-bono work with political and social organizations and working on projects to make the world a better place. I am grateful for all she does, and honored to call her a friend, colleague, and collaborator.

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Featured: Leah Goren, Ping Zhu, Julia Rothman; Photo by Kate Edwards.

A while back Julia got a small group of women together, served wine and snacks and called it Ladies Drawing Night. It became a regular gathering, an opportunity to get together and draw and talk shop and share stories. Not only did incredible work come out of it, but other women heard about the meetings and decided to host their own. Kind of like the old-time knitting circles or quilting bees, ladies drawing nights claim a space for women to gather around the act of making things while creating a space for people to support each other professionally.

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This is a little weird to write about because we made it together, but I want to give Julia huge credit for getting the whole thing started. Julia was looking at copies of a notable, highly-illustrated magazine and saw that only a tiny fraction of the covers were drawn by women. Instead of shaking her head and sighing, she decided to do something about it. She called me to discuss what we could do, and after several months of strategizing, we decided the smartest thing would be to increase the visibility of women illustrators and make it impossible for any art director or publisher to say they couldn’t find a woman (or woman of color, or LBTQ+) illustrator for a job. And thus was born WomenWhoDraw. It’s an an open directory of women* illustrators (*trans, gender non-conforming inclusive) that hopes to connect art directors, publishers, designers and editors with less visible artists. Not only is it a super simple, functional site (made by the brilliant Jenny Volvovski) but it’s super clean and beautiful, like everything Julia makes.

Tune in next year to see who inspires Julia!


Learn more about creative strategy and managing designers in Douglas Davis’ online course, Creative Strategy & the Business of Design.

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