Start Where You Are: Meera Lee Patel

Since we first profiled illustrator Meera Lee Patel in Work/Life 3: the UPPERCASE directory of Illustration, this talented artist has authored and illustrated two books.

“My work has evolved in what feels like a very natural, steady progression, and my career has as well. I published my first book, Daily Zen, in the fall of 2014, and began working on Start Where You Are in the fall of 2014. I've also expanded my line of stationery and textile goods and began selling to retailers around the world. I feel incredibly lucky to be writing and illustrating books, which has always been my dream, and am grateful to be where I am on this path.”

The most recent book is a motivational journal with illustrated quotations. “I wanted to make a book that helped people navigate through the chaos and confusion of everyday life. Start Where You Are guides readers through the practice of introspection by using a series of prompts (writing exercises, questions, charts, and graphics), and helps them feel more connected to themselves, the people around them, and the world itself.”

Meera has always been interested in the publishing industry. Four years ago, she graduated from college and secured a job with a publishing company. “I edited papers and put my knowledge of the Oxford Style Manual to good use. I enjoy writing and literature to a very intense degree—it's what fuels most of my illustration and propels me to tell stories with my work.”

However, the desk job wasn’t for her. “It was only a few months before I knew I'd slowly go insane if I didn't make a drastic change. With a slew of pent-up creative energy and strong desire for self-sustenance, I opened up an Etsy shop, started to take commissioned illustration jobs and began, once again, to let my imagination guide me.”

The transition from words to pictures was natural. “I grew up telling stories with my words; eventually I learned to tell them silently, with scribbles, colour and feeling. I'd always been a creative soul, writing and illustrating my own short stories and novels from a young age, using my imagination as fuel to create my own happiness.”

Creating inspirational books is an organic fit for this artist and her bright and spirited work. “Growth and evolution, as a person, is a natural and necessary process, and self-reflection plays such an important role in facilitating both. Reading so many life lessons from so many inspirational people reminded me (again and again) that anything is possible, both personally and creatively. I may not always currently be where I hope to go, but writing this book has helped me appreciate exactly where I am.”