Inspiring Artist: Quinn McDonald

Some days life just drops something REALLY REALLY COOL in your lap.  That’s how I felt the day I received a request to review the book Raw Art Journaling: Making Meaning, Making Art by Quinn McDonald.

Unprompted, unasked, life (via Quinn’s publicist) invited me to share this upcoming book with you.  When I got my super secret preview copy of the book I found that it is in ABSOLUTE PERFECT alignment with my own teaching of art journaling.  It’s all about the PROCESS and the HEALING that occurs.

I am in LOVE with this book and encourage YOU to check it out too.  View Raw Art Journaling on  If you are in the Phoenix Arizona area be sure to stop by the official book launch and meet the author yourself.

July 27, 7 p.m. Changing Hands Bookstore

6428 S McClintock Drive (NW corner of Guadalupe and McClintock)
Tempe, AZ 85283
(480) 730-0205

Let’s meet the Author of Raw Art Journaling, Quinn McDonald right now.

Please introduce yourself and your art a little bit.

My name is Quinn McDonald and my life changed entirely the day I realized that we don’t find meaning in life, we make meaning from life. Creativity is what makes meaning in our complex lives. For me, creativity lives at the intersection of words and design. Right now, that translates into raw art journaling. In the past it was collage with words and colors; handmaking paper from plants I grew, paper marbling, and found poetry used as collage.

Raw art journaling is the deep-rooted, authentic heart work you bring to your journal. Raw art is what heals and restores, and requires only an open mind and heart, not a pile of equipment or years of talent.

A journal I made with a Trader Joe’s Cookie box:

For me art is…

being alive. Seeing the world. Breathing it in. Experiencing life.

A journal made with resist wax pencils and inks

Can you tell us a little bit about your book Raw Art Journaling?

I’m a creativity coach, and often clients say to me, “I’m not creative.” It’s painful to hear. Maybe they aren’t illustrators or writers, but everyone is creative in some way. I wrote the book to encourage people to try something new—to engage the creative urge and make meaning with their creativity. The book has word projects and design projects, photography projects, even a chapter on secrets and codes.

You don’t have to know how to draw and you don’t have to be a writer  or have a lot of art supplies to use the book. I want people to come to the book and experience being enough—smart enough, talented enough, creative enough. Creative work allows you to tap into your own heart and soul and work unfettered. It’s called “flow” and time disappears. It’s delicious.

Monsoon papers: papers I made in one of Arizona’s monsoon rains using rubber stamp re-iners. The tutorial is in the book.

Who has inspired you?

What a tempting question! So many people, books, artists, clients, teachers, friends—too many to name. Friends in second and third grade who helped me invent codes to pass notes in class and develop a whole newsletter in code. Teachers who looked the other way while we passed the notes and decoded them. The librarian who drove the bookmobile and let me check out more books than I was allowed. She started my book addiction. When I moved from Washington, D.C. to Phoenix, I had to leave 400 books behind. But I also got to bring 500. I’m inspired by old friends, new ideas, people who live what they believe in. By the boss who looked at me sternly and said, “You are different and seem to enjoy it.” It was not a compliment, but if I hadn’t been pushed out of the company, I would never have opened my own business.

Almost everything in the desert delights me: The knowledge that those giant saguaros come from a tiny seed, the big dome of our huge sky. I’m inspired by monsoon rains, and thin slivers of moon and walking in total silence very early on a cool morning.

Authors from Beverly Cleary to Isaac Asimov, Henry James, Henry Thoreau, Tom Robbins, Chaim Potok, Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, Julia Cameron—and I haven’t even gotten to the poets yet!

Musicians—folk and rock and R&B, from Bob Dylan to Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon and Jackson Browne.

Artists—wow, that’s another whole list. Sculptor Camille Claudel, who was Rodin’s mistress and muse; Vermeer, Cassat, Rousseau, Duchamp, Klimt, Sonia Delaunay, François Gilot. Book artists Hedi Kyle, Su Blackwell and Brian Dettmer.

I can keep going. How much blog space can I take up?

A journal made of bamboo shelf liner

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

The man who taught me to ride a motorcycle knew the secret of navigating sharp corners and switchback turns. Don’t look at the bike at all. Don Slattery said, “You go where you look. So look where you want to go.” Your body and the bike will do the rest. That phrase is true about every goal—look where you want to go, and trust in the small decisions and intuitive moves to get you there. If you look for failure, you will watch it, focus on it, and head right to it. Look for joy.

Are there any tips to living a creative life that you’d like to share?

You get more out of one “Huh, that’s odd” moment than you do out of a hundred “Aha!” moments.

Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s not fun, but it teaches you more than success. If you aren’t failing occasionally, you aren’t trying hard enough.

Be curious about life, about what’s around you. Be curious about it all. Never stop learning.

You might not always be one of the cool kids, but you can always be interested. Interested people are interesting themselves.

There’s more fun in a technique class that teaches you how to do something than a product class that lets you assemble something. Instant gratification is fun, but you don’t get brain tools.

A dove done as a reductive charcoal drawing.

Where can people find you and your work?

At the moment, I’m combining my two websites back into one. Both sites will be at I list my classes and book signings there, too. There’s a “contact me” tab there.

My blog, QuinnCreative, is about the tips, slips, stumbles and leaps of a creative life: I post about 5 times a week, and have been blogging for almost 5 years, so there is a lot of work there. I’m on Twitter and Facebook, too.

My most current experiments hatch on my blog.

I write regular columns on the Business of Art for Somerset Studio magazine and a creativity coaching column for Art Quilting Studio.

You can find a podcast interview done by Ricë Freeman-Zachary at Create Mixed Media on creativity coaching here:

And my regular column on creativity for Create Mixed Media here:

On Jenny Doh’s site, I’m one of The Good Coach contributors:

And I’ve done an Art Saves feature for Crescendoh, too:

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog! I appreciate the opportunity to share your time and your readers!

Quinn, What a fantastic interview!!!  You actually gave me chills.  I loved your quote too.  “Look where you want to go” certainly is great advice for everyone!

Click button to view past interviews.

“Inspiring Artists” is an ongoing artist interview series at  Join me Mondays for a weekly dose of creative inspiration.

The series will continue as long as there are artists wishing to participate.  If you are an artist and would like to share your story, please contact me at  I’d love to hear from you.  Thank you!!!

Love & Blessings,


  1. Cheryl
    July 18, 2011

    Cool journal and I really like that pic of the dove. Wow!

  2. Jenni
    July 18, 2011

    Nice work 🙂

  3. michelle
    July 18, 2011

    I think you are very creative artist, I really like your journal made with resist wax pencils and inks. Well to be completely honest I like all of your work…

  4. tricia
    July 18, 2011

    very inspiring! thank you!

  5. ChristineB
    July 18, 2011

    The book sounds fabulous – I’m going to check it out. Loved the interview – good to meet the author and see such inspiring work. Just love that dove.

  6. Ruth
    July 18, 2011

    My copy is ordered and I’m counting the days! I was privileged to have a phone coaching session with Quinn and it helped set my direction in my work.

  7. QuinnCreative
    July 19, 2011

    Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting. It was wonderful to be included in the list of Inspiring Artists here at Joyful Arts. Cheryl/Christine B –the dove was drawn by covering a page in graphite dust, then “drawing” with an eraser. I put back a lot of graphite on the way to making it work!

    My deepest thanks to everyone who will read the book. And to those of you who buy it–big hugs!

  8. Diana Trout
    July 19, 2011

    A fabulous talk! Thank you so much. I need to get this book.


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