Lisa Kowieski: Illustrator – Parks Project

Lisa Kowieski

We've been lucky to collaborate with Lisa Kowieski (@madebylisamarie), an artist and graphic designer, who turned in her desk job to pursue her passions as a freelance artist. We're so stoked to support her journey and amplify her talent. Lisa's journey has been rad, and hopefully it inspires you to get out and create something that you're passionate about. Read about her journey below and how her drawings helped inspire one of our first coloring books!

Lisa Kowieski | Parks Project | Park ChampLisa, wearing the Grand Teton Mascot Racerback Tank that she designed.

I drew my first “tribal animals” 3 years ago while on vacation on a beach in Florida: a tribal shark. I posted it on my Instagram and quickly got a request to do a tribal bear from my Design professor for a new tattoo. I drew the bear on my flight back to Chicago. I’m not actually sure if he ever got the tattoo, but I’m glad he pushed me to keep going with this “tribal animal” drawing style I had Lisa Kowieski | Tribal Animal Drawings | Parks Projectjust created. The bear is now part of the Parks Mascot women’s tanks as well as the Awesome Animal of the Parks coloring book. 

Right out of college, I was hired as a Graphic Designer in the college industry at a large manufacturing company in the Midwest. I was quickly promoted to Marketing Coordinator and in charge of the Design team as by far the youngest person in the office. At 22, I was “succeeding” on society’s standards: I quickly found a job after college using my degree, got promoted within 3 months of being there, had the chance to travel for work, etc. All that to say, I was miserable being stuck at a cubicle from 8 to 5 with my fingers glued to a keyboard, surrounded by people who were there to just “punch the clock.”

So, I quit. I left my comfortable desk job for a less predictable vocation as a freelance artist and designer.

I’m a very passionate person and it scared me to think about wasting away the next 30 years of my life at an office cubicle. I wanted to have the freedom to be able to go outside and talk to people. I wanted to live a balanced life and work with people that loved what they were doing. I wanted to help others and be creative while doing so.

Lisa Kowieski | Drawing at Moraine Lake | Parks ProjectFinding inspiration at Moraine Lake: Lisa always keeps her sketchpad with her, just in case. 

So, I quit. I left my comfortable desk job for a less predictable vocation as a freelance artist and designer. Now, I’ve been drawing for over 20 years and it’s the one thing that comes as naturally as breathing to me. I’ve always known that it would be a part of my life--I just wasn’t sure how big that “part” would be. For four years I kept it small--I freelanced as just a side job--which felt safe enough to test the waters and see if I could make some money while still keeping a “regular” job that was more acceptable to others. But after four years of calling freelance a side thing, I decided it was time to go head-on into this passion to see what might come about.

I wanted to correlate my passion for art with other things I cared about: helping people, the outdoors, authentic storytelling, chasing after a cause worth giving your life to.

With that mindset, I reached out to several companies that fit into one or all of those passion zones. Parks Project was one of those companies.

Lisa Kowieski | Tribal Animals Progress | Parks ProjectWIP shots of the Tribal Animal Designs

I had many meetings with Keith, a co-founder of Parks Project, over the phone in the coming weeks. During one of those calls, we came up with an idea of creating a coloring book that featured the animals that called the National Parks their home. Keith had seen my tribal bear drawing and loved it enough to ask me to create an entire coloring book for Parks Project in that style.

So of course, I said yes.

A funny story about the process of these drawings is that a bulk of them were made in very unusual places. I had a short deadline to create the book and the majority of that time overlapped 5 weeks of already-booked-travelling around the US and Canada. I went from spending a week or so on each drawing, to having 5 weeks to draw 16 more animals and design the book. With that being said, at least half a dozen animals were drawn on airplane tray tables, several were drawn in a van over the course of a 2,000 mile road trip around British Columbia, Alberta and the Northwest Coast of the US, and others were drawn in between sessions at an Illustration Conference in Austin, TX. Not to mention the bear was drawn on a flight back from Florida and the rest were drawn back home in Chicago. Needless to say, it’s fitting that the animals live around the country because they were created around the country.

Awesome Animals Coloring Book | Parks Project

Thanks Lisa! They're available now- Pick up your coloring book here!

More Posts

Search our store