Peak graphic design: Exploring the great outdoors with Lisa McCormick

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Designer Lisa McCormick has always drawn inspiration from nature and wildlife. It only makes sense that she chose to focus her design career in an industry that is so close to her heart. Learn how Lisa found her place in the outdoor industry and what life looks like for this active, adventure-loving designer.

My name is Lisa and I am a freelance artist, illustrator, and graphic designer. My business is Made by Lisa Marie. I’m passionate about creating work that “lives in the real world” and teaching others how to develop their own creative skills.

Tell us about yourself and where you work. How did you get started in design?

I currently work from my studio outside of Chicago, as well as remotely on the road. My earliest memory is of me drawing horses and dogs in my playroom as a toddler. I’ve been drawing since I can remember and went to an Art Studio when I was eight to become trained in Traditional Art practices such as oil painting, charcoals, pastels, etc. I started competing in art competitions around Chicago in high school and got my first “paid gig” at 17.

In college, I pivoted and decided a degree in Graphic Design was probably more marketable than being an art major, so I jumped into the design world. I was a “technological infant” so-to-speak and spent the first 2-3 years drawing all of my class projects then scanning them into the computer until I finally gained the skills to work in Adobe software.

I decided to take the plunge into full-time freelance and chose the Outdoor Industry as a place to start.

I started freelancing regularly during my sophomore year and did mostly illustration projects and commissioned paintings. After college, I got a job as a graphic designer to create merchandise for hundreds of Universities around the country. I created everything from lanyards, mugs, shot-glasses, foam fingers — you name it. I then got promoted and started creating marketing materials for the company (e-blasts, product catalogs, trade show displays) and was brought along to the college industry trade show to meet with clients and network.

It was around that time that I realized I could do this for myself. I loved working with clients, I had the know-how to market myself and network, and I was building a steady list of clients from freelancing on the side for the last four years. I decided to take the plunge into full-time freelance and chose the Outdoor Industry as a place to start. It’s been almost four years since that day.


What project(s) are you currently working on?

I just finished collaborating with Patagonia on a limited edition Chicago T-shirt design. I was super excited to work with them on this, as Patagonia is one of my favorite brands and I’m very proud to be from Chicago.

At the moment, I am juggling a few different projects that are unique in their own ways. I’m illustrating a tattoo sleeve that is PNW (Pacific Northwest) themed, designing an album cover and t-shirt for a band, planning some “hike and draw” workshops out west, creating illustrations for social media Holiday campaigns, and working on a couple of logo designs.


Lisa’s ‘Hike and Draw’ workshop.

What else are you passionate about outside design? How does it influence your work?

I love traveling (who doesn’t) and experiencing different cultures. I love the energy of big cities and the solitude of the wilderness. I feel at home in both places, even though they’re such polar opposite environments.

I grew up playing sports and ran Cross Country in college and still love being active and playing sports. I still run about 4-5 times a week and do races as often as I can. I’m in rec volleyball and softball leagues with my husband and friends, and I also go climbing, paddle boarding, snowboarding or longboarding whenever I get the chance.

I also love listening to and playing music. I was the kid growing up that people would ask to make mix CDs for them so they could learn about cool up and coming artists and get exposed to a variety of sounds. My favorite genres range depending on the season and mood I’m in, but I’ve always been a big fan of hip-hop and indie. Chicago always has amazing concerts, festivals or small dive bar gigs going on and I try to go see live music as often as possible.

  1. Powder Mountain (detail shot)

  2. Seattle Gif

  3. Ramble On (roadtrip illustration)

  4. Oregon Coastline

  5. PNW Grizzly Bear Icon

  6. Detail shot of Seattle Drawing

  7. Sequoia National Park

  8. Southwest Desert *Acrylic on Canvas Panel*

  9. Topo Wolf

Tell us your favorite piece of creative advice. Why does it resonate with you?


My college professor said this and it really stuck with me. It’s a reminder to not be “too precious” about your work and hide it until everything is absolutely perfect (that day will never come) — but to swallow your pride and put yourself out there and share your work. Keep making things, try new ways of creating, and take risks. It’s better to keep creating and putting yourself out there so you can get honest feedback and move forward.

So, be a factory by continuously creating and putting your work out there. Don’t be a warehouse, storing work in a dark corner that never sees the light of day.

Shout-out: Who is another Dribbble designer you admire?

It’s hard to pick just one! I have to shout out Brian Edward Miller as I’ve been a fan of his work for years. It’s absolutely incredible. I’m still trying to figure out how he can create pieces that are so detailed, yet evoke this peaceful feeling to the viewer looking at them. Go check him out!

Any events, speaking gigs, merch, workshops, classes, or products you’d like to shout-out?

I will have several women’s T-shirts at REI that I designed for KUHL launching this fall, and I recently opened a pop-up shop and gallery in downtown Seattle at Wayward Collective. I’ll be doing another event with Patagonia in Chicago this Spring where I’ll teach an art workshop and have another “hike and draw” workshop in the works out in Vancouver, Canada for next summer.

I’m also currently working on hosting a Dribbble Meetup for Chicago — stay tuned for more info!

Want to keep up with Lisa? Find her on Dribbble, Instagram, and at

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