Personal Legend Project: Penelope Dullaghan

Penelope Dullaghan, Illustrator & Designer

Penelope’s work is primarily influenced by nature, and she takes daily walks along the river behind her home.  Frequently she paints or sketches what she finds.  Her work is used both commercially and editorially and credits include Crate & Barrel, The New York Times, Starbucks, O Magazine and Target.  Be sure to check out her work on her website: or follow her on Instagram.

The following set of six questions will be answered by each of the subjects.

1)  Some people call it a “true calling” or their “life’s work.”  In the book The Alchemist, author Paulo Coelho calls it your Personal Legend. What do you consider to be your true calling, or Personal Legend?

Making art is my true calling. It’s been the thing that’s kept my attention since I was little. And it helps me look at the world more closely and possibly make some sort of sense of it. Several times I’ve tried to leave it to do something else (temporary insanity), but I always come back. It’s just part of me.

2)  When did you first realize that this was your calling?

I’ve been making art since I could hold a crayon, but I think I realized it was my calling when I was working as an art director in advertising. I was always drawn to the more creative aspects of that job and eventually left to make it my focus. I’ve been freelancing as an illustrator since then and feel like I’m in the right place.

3)  People often become completely engrossed, losing track of time or outside concerns while performing tasks related to their calling.  This might be referred to as being “in the zone” or “flow.”  When do you experience this most often?

When I’m in my studio working on a new piece, I often lose track of time… forget to eat… realize hours later that I’ve been sitting in silence working for hours without looking up.

4)  What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced in pursuit of your life’s work?

My greatest challenge has been being ok with the natural, slow evolution of my work. I tend to be competitive and gung ho, and my work in tandem with my life circumstance has taught me to slow down and accept a more meditative pace.

5)  What has pursuing your Personal Legend taught you?

To be here and now.

6)  What piece of advice can you offer to others seeking their true calling?

Find some way to pursue it. Whether that means just in your free time as a hobby, or something more dedicated. What matters is to listen to it and take a step.

Are you following your Personal Legend?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Subscribe to the blog, or add us to your RSS feed to follow along as we post a new set of images each day for the next 30 days.   For background on this project, check out our first post in the series.

Author: Zach Dobson

Zach Dobson is a documentary and commercial photographer based in Indianapolis. He holds a degree in journalism from Indiana University with a concentration in photography. Since starting his business in 2006, Zach has focused on documenting people’s lives and businesses in action. Zach’s client list includes the Indiana Pacers, Coca-Cola, the AARP, ZipCar, Indiana University, Visit Bloomington, Hamilton County Tourism, Land O’Lakes, RIOT LA Comedy Festival, Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana High School Athletic Association. Zach is a Professional Member of the American Society of Media Photographers [ASMP]. He resides in Carmel, Ind. with his wife and business partner, Courtney, and their five children.

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