Behind the Brilliance 131: Jessica Abel


My nickname for this show is the Creativity Meets Commerce. Jessica has designed systems and processes for her work and offers frameworks for other artists. Her work deals with the hard stuff: staying out of your own way, thinking about the bigger picture of your goals, managing limited time, deciding to charge for your creative work.

During this conversation, we covered a lot of ground on how to get art done even as the artist struggles through the process. Jessica is practical (which I love), and she offers clear, accessible ways of solving common problems for people who want to make things.

Say hi to Jessica and let her know what you thought about our chat: @jccabel



Jessica Abel | Cartoonist + Author

Abel - HeadshotCartoonist and author Jessica Abel is the author of the graphic novel La Perdida (winner of the the 2002 “Best New Series” Harvey Award) as well as two collections of stories from her omnibus comic book Artbabe. She and her husband, the cartoonist Matt Madden, were series editors for The Best American Comics from 2007 to 2013. Together they’ve authored two textbooks about making comics, Drawing Words & Writing Pictures and Mastering Comics. Jessica collaborated with Ira Glass on Radio: An Illustrated Guide, a non-fiction comic about how the radio show This American Life is made. Her new book (and podcast), Out on the Wire, is about how the best radio producers in the world use story to keep us listening.

Jessica is the chair of the illustration program at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Both within and without PAFA, Jessica works with creative people with big ideas that have led them deep into overwhelming projects. Together, they create a map to guide them out of the forest and start actually making their work instead of just dreaming about it. Get her free tool to discover how you can work smarter and with less anxiety, here.

Jessica lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with her husband and their two children.


TOPICS COVERED (partial list)

-melding creativity and commerce

-what idea debt is and how to eliminate it

-time management advice that works for creative types

-redefining “marketing” for people who hate salesy stuff

-art as a service

-overcoming dark times in the middle of a project

-and much more

STUFF MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE (clickable links below)

Jessica Abel online

Ira Glass’ The Gap

Life goals article

Growing Gills (Jessica’s soon to be released book)

The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez (Jessica’s book pick)

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (Jessica’s book pick)