passion in the time after ‘us’



Recently I’ve found myself wanting to write again. Not about work, not about art, or the plight of the artist or what it means to design a creative life or any of those others clichéd inspirational phrases that show up in every other post on my Instagram feed. True, sometimes they help and the right words will float by me at the right time and I’ll feel a twinge somewhere on the surface of my heart. But the words that almost always snuggle deep inside there, hang out, and take up space, become part of me, are the ones that occupy more of the screen, the page. The longer form – and the longer form can be a few-lined-poem. Or an article. Or a behemoth of a book.


I’ve been feeling the need to write because I’m rediscovering just how much words matter most to me. Even if they’re not ‘perfect.’ Even if they’re not the ‘right’ words. I spent nearly 5 years in a relationship with a man who would slam down an impending fight with impenetrable silence. Relentless silence. Stubborn and shut. This is also the same man that could talk at length about a climb he wanted to do, or how he was learning to ski and it was his new favorite past time, the struggles going on at work, but who wouldn’t engage in the meat of most conversations that dictate the difference between casual fling and committed partnership. What do we really want, and how can we support each other in making it all happen, over time, together as we grow?


I’ve been mostly struggling with my part in the end. Did I push too much to have those conversations? Was it unreasonable to ask the questions? Could we have survived even though we had different levels of ‘excitement’ about his interests – things that I happily tried, happily engaged in, woke before dawn to partake in. My philosophy on passion is that it gets to hop around. To everything. Bringing passion to my creative work, the business I’m building, my day job, my relationships, a day on the slopes, this dinner I’m building from scratch for the both of us, a trip to Italy with my sister and cousins, to me that means living with passion. Having passion. Embodying passion. A passion? That’s too much pressure – finding just one. And in deciding to take that ultimate leap, that risk, and enter into a relationship with someone, it’s unwise to think that the level of passion for a singular thing, event, idea, interest between both people will be equal at all times. Passion for each other though – for each other’s happiness and level of joy – that’s the thing.


As I work through the conversations and actions, my own attitude, how I carried myself, the expectations I had, I’m floored by my level of responsibility in our ending. I’m tackled by grief and regret and loss. I’m uplifted by knowing that I’ll do better, and saddened by the very real probability that the retry won’t happen with him. For all my flaws, and his, that love had snuggled so deep in my heart – like the words of writers who just know, you know – that it had dissolved. It’s still running in my veins. And like any blood transfusion, these feelings have to run their course. They have to travel through my entire body before the process of transformation is complete.


I wish it would be painless and quick. I wish I could look at a photo of him doing something he loves and feel nothing but joy and good-will. But just like the passion I bring to making my home feel like mine, to a drawing I spend hours on, to a hike up the Presidential Range, and the simple-but-delicious oatmeal I made this morning, the passion (remember, there’s another definition for that word too) that lives in the time after a break-up is strong and pungent. It may take far longer than I want. And I likely will write about it again. Bear with me.


Let’s all move over to the new jilly ink blog!

Good morning!

Join me over at the jilly ink blog from here on out to receive your weekly dose of motivation quotes, original illustrations, and highlights on creative entrepreneurs. It makes more sense to keep everything in one place, so I hope you’ll make the move with me and keep sharing and commenting on what inspires you as well!

jilly ink Cover Page

Today I posted a motivation Monday hand lettered quote to start you off on the right, so head over to the blog to take a look, download it, and share it with your friends!

Free Download Friday – For the Bike Lovers

Biking Beauty - Preview

Good morning and happy Friday! As promised, this is the first installment of my free downloadable illustrations to take with you for the weekend. It’s so beautiful out here in California, but whether you live somewhere warm, or you’ve been in a wintry tundra for the last few months, dreaming of perfect bike riding days can help add a little fresh air to your daily pursuits. At least that’s what the inspiration was behind this illustration. It’s available here for you to download and print out, or save on your desktop. And if you’d like a ready-made beautiful print of it, it’s also available for purchase in a myriad of different sizes over on my Society6 page.

Click here to download: Biking Beauty

Happy biking, or bike day-dreaming, and enjoy your weekend! If you enjoyed this post, or like the illustration, be sure to share or re-tweet it to all your bike-loving/typography-loving/hand lettering-loving friends. As always, remember to reference @jillyink, and to stay up to date with more free giveaways like this, and my perspective on being a creative entrepreneur, make sure to subscribe to the Ink Blot!


New Editorial Calendar from jilly ink – starting this Friday!

Good afternoon sunny Oakland, snowy Boston, sub-zero Chicago, and the rest of the world. It’s been a very (very) long time since I’ve shared here, and starting today, I’m excited to say, the radio silence and gaps in my writing stop. I’ve just immersed myself in a bunch of amazing videos from the talented and biz-savvy Marie Forleo, and as an actionable step I’m taking to grow my lettering and illustration business, I’ve decided to create an editorial calendar.

Marie Forleo_Quote

Going forward, here’s what you can expect from the jilly ink blot every week:

Mondays – an uplifting and inspirational, FREE, downloadable wallpaper for your desktop, phone, tablet, and any other device that you have. I believe that starting your week with beautifully designed words of wisdom is the best way to get your feet on the floor, and running towards your passion.

Wednesdays – a spotlight on another creative entrepreneur that I believe is fiercely going after what he/she is truly excited about. Being a part of this community is amazing, and as a way to give back to the women and men who inspire me, I look forward to sharing their vision and work with all of you (to start, if you don’t watch MarieTV or haven’t browsed around her site yet, go go go – she’s phenomenal)!

Fridays – another freebie. This time, I’ll be offering a printable illustration to take with you for the weekend. Keep it in your wallet, frame it for your walls, photograph yourself with it on your travels and tag @jillyink on Instagram, etc. I want to give you something beautiful, to close your week with, to re-engage your creative energy for the weekend to come, or to give to someone else in your life as a reminder of the beauty you see in them as well.

I’m really excited to begin sharing these visual and written messages with all of you, so stay tuned because the first post on the editorial calendar drops this Friday, February 21st, at 10am PST. Until then, enjoy your day!

sf crushing: wineries and wedding venues

sf crushing- wine country

having lived in the bay area for a month and a half, one of the most popular topics of discussion amongst our friends and the new (wonderful) people we’ve been meeting is wine country. everyone has their favorite vineyard, with great stories about the wine, food, their experiences, and the gorgeous landscapes. i’m very much excited to snag a ride out to sonoma and napa and taste what this california soil and climate have to offer by way of its grapevines. in the meantime, i’ve been pouring over photos, and these are my top picks for gorgeous spots to hold either a big, or intimate wedding ceremony and reception.


Scribe Winery

scribe site

as a writer, and a designer, i’m already in love with the name and label that this winery boasts. take a look at their website, read their very personal stories, and that love intensifies by the sheer passion these fellas have for what they do, and where they do it. and then you find photos of their pick-up parties. this past february, they had chris fischer of martha’s vineyard fame (always love a good nod to my home state of massachusetts) come and put together an insatiable array of gorgeously prepared food to pair with their wine bounty. just to be present at one of these events looks like it would be an experience filled with great food, amazing wine, cozy fireside conversation, beautiful views, and fun company. i can’t wait to visit for a tasting, and am seriously considering joining their scribe viticultural society.

**Note – At the moment Scribe isn’t holding wedding ceremonies or reception parties on their grounds until they finish renovating the Mission-revival style Hacienda on the property. Down the road, they may be open to those kinds of inquiries, but for now they’re keeping their focus on the Scribe tasting experience.**


Photo by Allan Zepeda Photography

Photo by Allan Zepeda

Photo by Allan Zepeda

photography by allan zepeda

as featured on Style Me Pretty


Gundlach Bunschu

gun bun site

imagine being ushered through a cool wine cave, being handed a glass of authentic sonoma valley wine, and exiting to a breathtaking view of an expansive vineyard under a clear blue sky. this is the experience guests encounter at a gundlach bunschu wedding. it sounds, and looks, incredible. add to it some rustic wine barrels, stone walls, and the natural beauty of vines – everywhere – and this particular winery provides such a light and bright environment to share such a special day with friends and family.

gun bun ceremony

gun bun barrel

photographs by jessica burke

as featured on Style Me Pretty 



annadel site

this vineyard has everything that i love about infusing different textures, elements, and maintaing the authentic beauty of its location. with old winery ruins and a barn amidst rows of greenery and the most romantic big, beautiful trees, annadel provides so many opportunities for photo shoot backdrops. virtually touring these grounds is making me antsy to get there in person. it looks like it meets all the needs of both an intimate and larger wedding celebration, inviting a great conversation between the outdoor expanse and indoor coziness. bonus – they also provide roses to the san francisco flower mart, so how amazing that the florals might be available right at the venue!

annadel wall

annadel vineyard


photographs by collin hughes

as featured on Snippet & Ink


excited to start tasting the wines from these gorgeous venues! tune in next when i shift focus over to the amazing professionals behind the wedding lens. have a beautiful week!


sf crushing: letterpress letterpress

sf crushing letterpress

my very dear wonderful talented friend, rebecca elliot, came to visit san francisco this weekend, so it seems only apt that my next sf crushing series is focused on letterpress studios in the bay area. rebecca herself is a letterpress maven, with a giant hunk of steel of her own back in chicago, and meekling press as her homestead for printing unique and quirky (not to mention exceptionally well-written) books and story collections. in her honor, here are my picks for this corner of the country’s best handlers of old vandercooks and chandler and prices.


Olive Route


olive route


olivia san mateo, owner of this berkeley based print shop, has such a lovely, natural eye for collection. each piece in one of her wedding suites can stand well on its own, but put together with all the elements, the whole unit speaks clear and well-constructed volumes about the couple getting married. i especially love her use of texture, natural elements, and of course, varied types of type. i really appreciate a designer who can weave a story into their work – and her use of layers, small details, and perfect color palettes does this for everything she prints.


Twig & Fig

twig & fig


another berkeley enterprise! twig & fig have, first of all, such a quirky and fun website – this tips me off firstly that their work is made up of personalized and unique elements. i love their uncomplicated, slightly edgy, sophisticated, and utterly fresh approach to designing. it’s clear that their inspiration comes primarily from the people they work with. which, when paired with masterful letterpress and design skills, ends up yielding incredibly gorgeous stationery and invitations.


Aerialist Press

aerialist press


well, apparently i’m in love with letterpress studios based in the east bay. it might be a little biased, since i’m in oakland now, but seriously, when you go take a walk around aerialist press’s website, you just tell me how hard it was for you to leave. not only do they have an abundant portfolio of gorgeous, delicate, type-and-illustration-driven designs, but when executed onto paper, the final product takes your breath away, it’s made so well. i also have a particular penchant for design teams that are motivated not only by their clients’ love, but by their own. alexandra and craig have such a lovely story, and it’s evident that they infuse every project they undertake with the same passion and dedication that they share with each other.



so much love for these paper wielders. tune in next week for a peek at some of my favorite winery wedding venues in the area!

happy birthday! cards!


there are a handful of very very special people who have birthdays in march, and this year i decided to make some custom hand lettered birthday cards to send their way. orange and white, with some very cool gold metallic gel ink on the envelopes. these aren’t up in the shop, but if you’re looking for something to help say, ‘hey! you! i’m so glad you were welcomed onto this planet when you were!’ – well, i’d love to help make that happen.




sf crushing: florists and floral designers

sf crushing- florists


if there is one thing i’ve been appreciating like whoa since being out here – especially for the season and how drastically different it’s being represented here versus chicago – it’s the abundance of plant life. honeysuckle practically wraps a lasso of scent around you as you walk by, forcing you to stop and bathe in the sweetness surrounding you on the sidewalk. the flower buds on the tree outside my living room window have blossomed and burst and since given way to small bright green leaves. there’s crazy jurassic fauna and spiky fluorescent flora. everything smells like heaven, especially after it rains.

to celebrate this bouquet of floral inspiration, my next sf: crushing focus is on the floral designers and florists that harness and arrange and display and showcase and set free the plethora of local flowers and ferns and branches and everything else at their disposal.


here are my top three for now:


studio choo homepage


Studio Choo

the name, first of all, is adorable – as is it’s inspiration (i also tend to have a particular penchant for other creative jills or jillians). the work that this duo – jill and alethea – puts together is just breathtaking. all of their arrangements and installations have a backyard cozy comfortable feeling, but with an elevated sensibility. their use of local grown flowers, and the care they take to showcase each bloom, is heartening. i just want to go live in their studio – what a thoughtful and artistic space to spend their days! take a look through their blog – i love how each post not only showcases the stunning visuals, but tells a personal story of each project’s inception.


twigss homepage


Twigss Floral Design

as soon as i opened up the website for twigss, i fell in love. i’m obviously the target audience for a hand-drawn laurel wreath and hand lettered logo design. and then they’re a mother-daughter team. and then their philosophy is so spot-on, i feel like i already know them. and then their photos and their flowers are just. well, they’re just gorgeous. i love the seasonal influence that takes precedence in each of their displays, bouquets and headpieces. and i also love their appreciation of the entire lifecycle of a flower – from bud to bloom to decay and deadhead. i’ve been pouring over their blog, and i suggest you do the same.


chestnut & vine homepage


Chestnut & Vine Floral Design

succulents. succulents. succulents. i’ve been looking for a floral designer/florist in the bay area who uses succulents in an artful way, and svenja brotz of chestnut & vine has hands-down the most gorgeous, lush, well-thought out arrangements using these amazing plants. succulents of all different colors, sizes, and paired with the interesting and complimentary blooms – i could look at her website all day. and i love that she’s based in the east bay, just a bit north of where i am, up in quaint and bustling berkeley. bringing a european sensibility to the abundant materials of northern california, she’s got a real talent for combining skill, vision, and resources. i just want to fill my home with her creations.


next week in the sf crushing series: invitations and paper goods. this is a special one, so i’m excited to share with you my favorites in the world of paper and design. have a beautiful weekend!


a quick gem and giraffe question

dear lovely readers – i’ve decided to spend the next hour and a half drawing gemstones and giraffes. what are some of your favorite gems – cuts, shapes, kinds? concurrently, what are some of your favorite lady and dude names? i’ll be posting some of these sketches later on today, and you might just see a combination of some of these favorites in the mix!

new online hand lettering workshop!

new online lettering flyer

for all of you who have been yearning to learn how to hone your own hand lettering skills, i have a treat for you! i’m running an online 6-week  hand lettering workshop, live via skype. this workshop series is intended to be a private lesson experience, with half hour sessions every wednesday at a particular time slot, giving you ample time throughout the week to practice the skills we went over. there will be fun practice homework, and i’ll be at your disposal the entire length of the program to answer questions, provide feedback, and share helpful guidance.

open to beginners and more advanced students alike. the workshop runs on wednesday evenings from april 2 – may 7. there are 5 time slots available:

3:30pm pst | 5:30pm cst

4:15pm pst | 6:15pm cst

5:00pm pst | 7:00pm cst

5:45pm pst | 7:45pm cst

6:30pm pst | 8:30pm cst


you must have access to skype, and a materials list/course syllabus will be provided upon registration. sign up at looking forward to seeing you on the web!


Screenshot 2014-03-19 12.14.21