new & noteworthy

My First Podcast Appearance!

Hi there. How are you?

Me. I’m so excited!

My first ever appearance on a podcast is now live!

Click to hear the interview!

Click to hear the interview!

Let me tell you how this cool opportunity came to be……

Back in February, I saw that Tara McMullin, creator of the What Works Podcast was looking for guests for her upcoming “By the Numbers” series.

As Tara states,

“Numbers give us a lot of information about what’s working and what’s not in a business.

They can tell us a pretty interesting story… if we’re willing to listen to it. Numbers might not tell us everything we need to know but they certainly help us ask better questions and point to new possibilities.

Throughout May, we’ll be featuring candid conversations with small business owners who have changed course because they paid attention to the numbers—everything from profit margin to time management to website traffic from Pinterest.”

I had a story that I knew would fit this theme.

I sent her a DM and threw my hat in the ring. A few weeks later, I was in front of my computer recording an interview with Tara over Skype.

This is a big, cool deal.

Tara is a small business rock star.

I have been following and learning from Tara McMullin for years. I can’t tell you how honored (and cool) I feel to have been a guest on her stellar What Works podcast. If you’re in the small business world, and you want real, down to earth business talk, give it a listen.

Here’s the whole episode:

In this interview we discuss:

  • What happened when one of my pins was repinned over 50,000 times—and why it created a spike in traffic but not in sales.

  • How and why I regrouped and decided to make an online drawing course.

  • My very simple process for filming, producing and hosting my online course.  (Shout out to Kerstin Martin and her Squarespace Classroom for helping get this course off the ground.)

  • How my online courses have impacted my business as a whole and what’s in store for the future of my business.


Find What Works on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Go listen to my interview and let me know what you think!

Ciao, Jen

Celebrating Home with State Prints

Hi there. How are you?

Celebrating your home is big in design right now. Sporting zip codes, area codes, and state shapes on t-shirts, pillow, prints, mugs, etc. is all the rage.

Personalization is big too. People enjoy having their name and place on their things.

I’m always a tad leery of hopping on design trends. By the time I’m recognizing this trend, is it too late to capitalize on it? But this trend, I really like, so I went for it.

I started with this drawing….

My Illinois state print started as this drawing in my sketchbook.

My Illinois state print started as this drawing in my sketchbook.

….And turned it into this!

Carbondale, Illinois print featuring a ballpoint drawing from my sketchbook. Click through to purchase.

Carbondale, Illinois print featuring a ballpoint drawing from my sketchbook. Click through to purchase.

Carbondale Love

Last spring, I started making state prints with my ballpoint sketchbook drawings. I started with my own state of Illinois. Using a really nifty Illustrator feature, I was able to “cut” my rectangular drawing into the shape of the state. I added a heart over my home in Carbondale and voila!

I printed and framed these cuties for a spring time market I did last year. As Carbondale is a college town, I thought it would make a good graduation gift. They went over really well, so I decided to make more states.

As it is the Bluegrass State, the Kentucky print had to be in blue.

As it is the Bluegrass State, the Kentucky print had to be in blue.

The Bluegrass State

When my Kentucky friends saw my Illinois prints, they wanted in on the fun too. Of course this one had to be blue. Fun fact: I lived in Edgewood, Kentucky (across the river from Cincinnati) for a couple of years as a child.

Here’s the drawing that served as the backdrop for my Kentucky state print.

Here’s the drawing that served as the backdrop for my Kentucky state print.

My Wisconsin state print had to be Badger red.

My Wisconsin state print had to be Badger red.

On Wisconsin

Next was Wisconsin which had to be in “Badger” red. Growing up on right on the state line, I’ve spent a lot of time in Wisconsin. We used to vacation every summer at a Wisconsin lake house, I attended University of Wisconsin-Madison for my undergrad and spent 3 summers working at a summer camp in Northern Wisconsin.

This sketchbook drawing that was the basis for the Wisconsin state print.

This sketchbook drawing that was the basis for the Wisconsin state print.

This California print marks San Diego with a heart.

This California print marks San Diego with a heart.

Cali Love

This Christmas, I made California for my brother and sister-in-law who live in San Diego. I cut the California state silhouette out of the same drawing that I used for Illinois. Why reinvent the wheel, right?

Showing some south Florida love with this new state print.

Showing some south Florida love with this new state print.

The Sunshine State

This spring I decided to add a few more states to my repertoire. It seemed logical to make Florida next as my in-laws spend half their year living in Naples, Florida and one of my good buddies is about to move to Florida.

For my Iowa State friends, I made this Iowa print with the heart over Ames.

For my Iowa State friends, I made this Iowa print with the heart over Ames.

And lastly, Iowa

Even though, Iowa borders my home state of Illinois, I have never really been there. (Weird but true.) I have a lot of friends with Iowa connections, so that’s where I went next.

A custom Wisconsin print for a Beloit College grad.

A custom Wisconsin print for a Beloit College grad.

All of these prints are customizable.

The heart can be moved to mark any location within the state. I’ve started to dabble with state color changes too.

I just made this custom Wisconsin print for a graduation gift. I swapped Badger red and a heart for Beloit College blue and a star.

All of the existing state prints are available for sale in my shop.

They make lovely graduation, wedding and housewarming gifts.

What state next?

I’ve had a lot of fun making these and they’ve been selling well, so I’ll keep going with them. What state should I tackle next? Do tell!

That’s all for now.

Ciao, Jen

Summer, Swimsuits & a Comission

Hi there. How are you? 

It's been hot and humid for weeks now in Southern Illinois. All I want to do is swim. Good thing we've got a lovely little public beach on the lake nearby. Hoping to head there tomorrow.  

I've been thinking about swimwear a lot this summer as I spent a good chunk of my studio time illustrating swimsuits for a commission. A few months back, I was asked to create some original artwork for a brand new tiny house rental cabin near of Lake of Egypt.   

The stylish, light filled interior of one of the Dam Near Lake of Egypt micro cabins. Photo courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

The stylish, light filled interior of one of the Dam Near Lake of Egypt micro cabins. Photo courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

Pops of red, yellow and blue set off the mainly white, bright interior. Photos courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

Pops of red, yellow and blue set off the mainly white, bright interior. Photos courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

Dam Near Cabins

Dam Near Lake of Egypt Cabins is a brand new business started by Allison and Michael Hasler. They built and elegantly furnished two lovely rental "micro cabins" that are just 1 mile from Lake of Egypt Dam. (Clever name, isn't it?!)

I got to tour this cabin right before they finished it and I've got to tell you, it's gorgeous. It's diminutive 550 square feet is packed with high end finishes and feels light, spacious and airy. I would love to stay here sometime! 

* All cabin photos courtesy of Allison Hassler, Dam Near Cabins.

The Dam Near micro cabins have a sleek, modern, and full sized kitchen and bathroom. Photos courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

The Dam Near micro cabins have a sleek, modern, and full sized kitchen and bathroom. Photos courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

Bathroom Art

Allison commissioned me to create some original art for this charming bathroom. (I'm not quite sure why, but my art often seems to make it's way into people's bathrooms. Maybe it's the small size of my work?)

She asked me to illustrate vintage swimwear and I was happy to oblige. I was excited to revisit collage and take a break from abstraction, so I quickly got busy looking for source material. I took my cues for color from the pops of aqua, red, and yellow found in the cabin furnishings.

A mixed-media illustration based on a vintage Tom Brigance swimsuit. 

A mixed-media illustration based on a vintage Tom Brigance swimsuit. 

Ink & Paper

I started with this adorable 1950's skirted suit designed by Tom Brigance. I did a preliminary drawing of the suit on red polka dotted paper, and then added in the details with my trusty black Bic ballpoint pen. 

A classic 1950's bathing suit illustrated with patterned paper and black Bic ballpoint ink. 

A classic 1950's bathing suit illustrated with patterned paper and black Bic ballpoint ink. 

A Classic Shape

Next I worked on the yellow suit, also a classic 1950's design. As we know, that comes around goes around in fashion, and this style is in vogue again right now. In fact, I own a suit very similar to this myself. (It's a little less ruched and is red instead of yellow though.  Yellow is not my color!)

A vintage 1950's bathing suit that doesn't look that idea for swimming that I illustrated for a client. 

A vintage 1950's bathing suit that doesn't look that idea for swimming that I illustrated for a client. 

Swimming in Velvet?

Though this one seems older to me, this is also a 1950's Tom Brigance design. It was made cotton and rayon, but almost looks like velvet to me. It doesn't seem that practical for swimming, but that's nothing new.  Have you seen this suit that can't get wet and is dry clean only?????

The original illustrations framed up and hanging in the bathroom at the Dam Near micro cabin. Photos courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

The original illustrations framed up and hanging in the bathroom at the Dam Near micro cabin. Photos courtesy of Dam Near Cabins. 

The Install

A couple of weeks ago, Allison shared these pictures of my illustrations framed up and hanging in the bathroom. They look great, don't they? I'm so pleased with the way they turned out and so were my clients.

I absolutely adored working on this project and I couldn't believe how quickly I was able to adjust to working in this illustrative style again. I'd love to do more more swimsuits in the future. (It may have to wait until the fall though. I've got so many other projects to accomplish.) 

Vintage swimsuit prints are here! Click through to purchase. Buy the set and save $10.00.

Vintage swimsuit prints are here! Click through to purchase. Buy the set and save $10.00.

Prints are available! 

With the blessing of my client, I've made prints of my three swimsuit illustrations. They'd look great in your bathroom, beach house, lake home or pool. Each print is available for sale individually or you can buy a set of all three and save $10.00. 

Want to commission me to make something special for you? 

I really love being told what to do. (Seriously, I do!) Get in touch if you'd like me to create some custom artwork of your very own. 

That's all for now. Ciao!