Today is an Opportunity, Not an Obligation

Have you ever watched those motivational videos on YouTube? Photos and clips of athletes running, climbing mountains, surfing huge waves, practicing on a basketball court overlaid with a deep voice hammering home the point that in order to achieve what you want, get to your dreams, accomplish amazing results, and live the life you want, you've got to change your mindset? 

I love those videos.

And I realized recently that they're usually focused on physical achievement. The visual part anyway - typically they highlight men and women accomplishing astronomical physical feats - or even ordinary ones that most people still wouldn't strive to achieve. But what of the men and women who's dreams and goals are to own their own business, make their living through art, build their own house, travel the world, write a book, master the art of French cooking? The action shots of those people might not be as visually stirring (the artist in her studio, meticulously detailing an illustration, the writer at his laptop, searching for the right adjective, the aspiring chef in her kitchen, tasting a Bolognese sauce and making notes), but that doesn't mean they're any less inspiring. 

What does it mean to really go after goals? If we can begin to consider that our minds are actually built like a circuit, and the missing link between where we are and where we want to be is in rewiring our thoughts, then it seems achievable, doable, maybe even a relief, easy. But here's the real deal: that takes practice. Constant honing, developing, nurturing. The mind is not so easily swayed, and will, just like a boomerang, come back to its comfortable and natural habitat time and time again - until the natural habitat is positivity, optimisim, knowing that you are great, the best, that you will achieve what you want. 

As a freelancer and self-employed person, the one who goes out there and determines my own destiny, I practice this every day. And it just dawned on me that the motivational video of my own life, my success today and in the future, might not look like so many of the ones that already exist. The shots might be of me in my office, typing this very blog post, drawing words, brainstorming creative projects, having coffee with other like-minded creative and entrepreneurial men and women, taking yoga, calling potential clients, making lunch in the middle of the day, etc. etc. etc. And at the end of the day, when I sometimes want to only focus on what I didn't get done, what I haven't achieved, and all the 'what if's that come along with that, I practice filling my head instead with belief. That this, today, this moment, right now, is another opportunity. Not an obligation. This is an opportunity for me to live my dream, share my passion, touch someone else's life, offer freedom, time, attract adventure, wealth, and stories.

So I challenge you, dear readers, to try this out this week. Every morning when you wake up, say to yourself, 'I've got this amazing opportunity to live, to be, to create, today.' Train your mind to be your biggest and most unconditional fan. 

If you liked this post, share your thoughts in the comments below. And click here for a free PDF download of the inspirational motivational quote I created just for you. Feel free to Pin, Tweet, Instagram, reblog, repost to your favorite followers, and add the @jillyink so I can be a part of the conversation!

 

Cheers to you and this amazing Monday.

Free Friday Artwork: Cut Through the Bull

It's so gorgeous here in Oakland, it's almost impossible to stay inside and do work! I hope wherever you are that the weather is beautiful, or if it isn't, then you're able to make it a beautiful day regardless. This week has been all about getting to the intention behind everything. Everything from relationships and communication, to work and career, can be strengthened through a clear intention and objective behind it. And it may take some time, practice, some trials and triumphs, but when you really, fully, listen to your gut, cut through all the bull (that we tell ourselves, and we listen to from other people), every action you take will be aligned towards your goals.

So for your free Friday printable, here's a little minty reminder to get straight to the point. Click here to download a PDF, and then print it out, put it on your desktop, share it with your friends, and then go LIVE it!

 

If you liked this post, tell me all about it in the comments! Add the @jillyink if you share it with your friends, and then go have an amazing weekend.

 

Cheers!

International Women's Day

Happy Monday everyone!

I started off my week (last night) looking at and reading a lot of posts/pictures/stories relating to International Women's Day. The major thing I took away from all of it was the fact that, for this one day, the overwhelming attitude by women, for women, about women, was positive. I'd like to think that this is the case every day, but the truth is, we still have a long way to go in consistently and compassionately lifting each other up. 

 

I try as often as I can to highlight and put a spotlight on other women that are doing amazing things, contributing their talents, their love, service, skill, time, and effort to others. Women who fiercely drive towards their passion, and along the way inspire, encourage, motivate, and even mentor other women trying to do the same thing. We don't have to live in a world where the only way to the top is to step on the shoulders of everyone we see as competition. We can be ferocious in our intention to get there, and generous with others along the way. Who's to say we can't all stand at the top together.. and take a really awesome group photo?

 

International Women's Day was yesterday, March 8, 2015 - but I wanted to extend the spirit of female power to the beginning of your work week. Click here for a free PDF download of this print, and if you like this post, comment below! Share the message with the other awesome ladies in your life, and be sure to tag @jillyink on any social media conversations, so I can jump in and see your thoughts!

Cheers to an amazing and inspiring and memorable Monday.

Source: international women's day quote

Motivation Monday - Oscar Inspiration from Common

Good morning beautiful world! After watching the recap of the Oscars last night, I'm incredibly inspired by all the moments and quotes and outwardly focused speeches that took place. It seems like everyone has a cause that they're bringing awareness towards, whether it was calling your mum or dad, wage equality for women, ALS  and Alzheimer's awareness, and calling attention to how much farther our country still has to go with respect to race equality. 

So for this week's motivation Monday quote, I'm sharing the words from Common last night as he and John Legend accepted their Oscar for Best Original Song, Glory. I think it's beautiful, poignant, and speaks to so many other issues, even when taken out of context. 

Click here to download the PDF, save it to your desktop or print it out for your inspiration board!

If you like this post, please feel free to download the print, like it, share your comments, share with your friends, and remember to add the @jillyink when posting on social media! Until Wednesday, have an amazing start to your week!

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!

Cheers!

happy birthday! cards!

IMG_4256 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.

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the coolest baby shower ever

IMG_4051 my wonderful friend, molly, is about to welcome a new little boy into the world any day now. a few weeks ago, her talented coworker tiffany munster, of soiree weddings and events, threw her the most well-styled, deliciously catered, fun and hipster-inspired baby shower at the beautiful headquarters of stem line creative. in attendance were some of the coolest people in the chicago wedding industry - including naomi from tipsy cake, who brought over a blue velvet sugar-dinosaur topped cake for the mum-to-be.

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i wish i had some photos from the actual night; here are the menu signs and place cards i put together for the shower. i can't wait to meet molly's little boy, and if he's anything like his mum, he'll have excellent taste - in friends and design.

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holiday! holiday! gifts! gifts!

IMG_4021 i'm thinking about holiday season much differently this year. yes, for the past few seasons, i've tried hard as i could to buy local, handmade, artist-created wares, goods, artwork. i've even tried making things for loved ones. this year, i'm going to focus on simple. very simple. well-chosen words, photographs, pictures, drawings, paper. ordinary things made more beautiful by a new, vibrant approach. maybe an intriguing postcard acutely placed in a gorgeous frame. or a set of vintage silverware with the handles dipped in paint.

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along these same lines, in the etsy shop, i'm currently offering simple, hand-lettered quotes on 8x10 paper. whatever quote, saying, words you can think of will be transposed in my calligraphy and sent to you, ready to be gifted, (or framed, and then gifted. or wrapped around something else, and then gifted. or kept for yourself). i figured this was a lovely, cost-effective way to gift my love of lettering to holiday celebrants everywhere.

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it's early, yes, but think how much more you'll be able to enjoy your egg nog and ugly sweater parties knowing your holiday shopping is all done (and looking pretty beautiful, if i say so)? cheers!

 

- find the listing for custom hand lettered quotes here!

legibility: when 'doctor' script is acceptable

lately it's come up a few times, the subject of legibility in script. typically, i defer to the occasion at hand. if a client of mine wants a really aesthetically pleasing tattoo design of text, in my handwriting, and the look/feel of it is more important than how well the text is recognized, i am usually a little more artistic, lenient with it. when, for example, i'm addressing envelopes (for myself, or for wedding invitations), i try to err on the side of readability. the post office can use all the help they can get at this point, yes, but it is a bit unfortunate that the true boundaries of artistically hand-lettered verbiage doesn't have room for more flexibility. part of this reason is due to the hand of the calligrapher, of course, but another part of it could pertain to the lack of cursive writing in our culture now. we're not trained to identify script as well anymore. have you ever taken a look at the letters ben franklin penned? or even ye olde declaration of independence? jane austen's letters to her sisters, written in two directions on both sides of a piece of paper? somehow, those were read, understood, transcribed, responded to. somehow, we think those examples of penmanship are acceptable, but only within the time frame in which they were written. to that point, perhaps as a hand letterer (and lover of beautiful handwriting), it actually is my job to push the limits of comprehension in some small way. instead of bypassing and immediately looking for the sender's address to return a card i'm mailing, maybe the mail carrier that picks up my envelope will pause, read, and consider that there might be merit in aesthetics of typography in everyday life.

 

either way, i do, always, make sure that the zip code is crystal clear. cheers!

danielle and bobby: envelopes are on their way

my darling, lovely, hilarious, gorgeous cousin danielle is getting married this coming june to an equally wonderful, funny, fun, handsome fellow, and they asked me to help in the preparations by addressing their wedding invites. this being something i love, of course i said yes! here are the final envelopes, about to be packed up with a bow and shipped back to massachusetts where they'll be stuffed and sent out to the world. many many congratulations to danielle and bobby - i can't wait to see them tie the knot this spring!

a southern stamp - makenna and yvonne johnston

it was such a pleasure working with makenna on creating a return address stamp for her and yvonne.  originally she wanted a custom initial stamp with both of their first initials, but after a while changed her mind and went for the full address. i think it came out beautifully, and i can just imagine the many envelopes and packages that it will adorn!

canopy

after one and a half weeks of frantic designing, printing, cutting while kneeled and hunched over on the floor (oh my back!), i finally, with the help of my dear roommate) put up my final project for my installation class this semester.  and it just so happened that we installed on the one, repeat: one, beautiful, sunny day that chicago's seen in the past month really.  it was truly a blessing, and it made the papercut installation sing with clarity, brilliance and full out shine.

i am now completely obsessed with cut paper projects, and will be experimenting with other materials as well, maybe forming language out of wire, or different forms of pellon, or really, whatever i can get my hands on.  thank you so much to everyone who's helped support me mentally and emotionally in this project - it really, the whole thing, has made me so happy.  and now i'm equally happy that it's done.

and in case you're interested, here's the text of the piece:

she does not see far.  the wind twists itself around and about her limbs, sends her hair into a fury, but she doesn't see far./she doesn't hear long.  the sounds of rays that creep within the cracks of her skin make no impression on her eardrums./she tries to follow the feel.  she touches the ends of things, gropes for a hanging-on of connection.  the mouth she has./she lets it all in, and washes it all out.  welcomes it in, and stands helpless as it all passes through.

follow the lines

some process photos that i promised - here's the first two panels of large-scale papercuts for my third installation. pre-cutting, here's what the scrolls of paper look like with the designs printed on them:

starting to cut:

the completed first panel:

and here's the final cutout of the second:

i'll just go ahead and let the pictures speak for themselves.  more to come!

and a cut here, and a cut there

so.  for my third installation project, i'm working with text.  oh.  i suppose that's been my game all along, hasn't it?  this time, however, i'm working with it as a 3d material.  you all know from one of my last posts that i'm slightly obsessed with papercutting, paper crafting, paper everything.  i decided to try my own hand at cut paper, so i went out to my local utrecht (thank you 10% student discount), purchased a swivel x-acto knife and fancy cutting board, grabbed a roll of white easel paper and headed on home to my kitchen table work space.

this will be super easy, right?  i so naively thought to myself.  after my first few tries and the first few pangs of a cramped hand, however, i started to get a good rhythm.  and then it just started to click.  and then it started to look gorgeous.  i mean, i don't mean to toot my own horn, but the result is just fascinating - the paper ends up looking/feeling like lace, and the shadows that the lines create are lovely, ephemeral, delicate.  it's the shadows that i'm after, actually, in the final piece, but really, i couldn't have been more pleased with the visual in general.

the only thing that slightly irks me is the presence of the graphite on the paper.  i could not for the life of me figure out how i could cut out my writing without a guide right there on the paper (if i had a light table, it might be a different story).  does anyone have suggestions for the future?  fortunately, since the actual installation piece will be much larger and i just so happen to go to a pretty sweet art school, there are tools/machines like fancy laser and plotter cutters that will cut the shapes out for me, so i won't have to worry about the graphite on the final piece.  but in the meantime, with x-acto in hand, i'd like to come up with a way of getting this desired effect without the guide... and i have a feeling that erasing it post-cutting would just tear the thing into pieces.

i also love what happens to these discarded pieces of the papercut - they're so sweet, like tiny waves floating suspended on their own.  i'll continue sharing the stages to this final project, and i hope you enjoy the process as much as i do!

reference

second installation project - i decided to blasphemously tear pages out of an old 1965 dictionary and infuse them with my own writing.  over the course of a week and a half, i painstakingly (and yes, at times, those late nights, hitting f3 and then shift+f over and over again was indeed painful) searched through roughly twenty documents of my own writing that i've produced since last fall for whatever recognizable words i found on each page.  once found within a piece of my writing, i'd hand-write the sentence that word was used in over its original definition.  thereby claiming its definition as my own.

some of the pages went faster than others.  some strangely had no words that i could use, and so in those cases, i made up definitions for certain words.  or i would find interesting connections between the words that just so happened to be situated near each other.  or i experimented with hand-lettering of certain letters, words, images, etc.

the wallpapering itself took no time, but the entire project, layered together and spread out over the expanse of a wall in my studio, sparked such an interesting conversation about authorship, overload of information, hierarchy of text, positive vs negative space, and so many other things.  i truly enjoyed putting this together, and if given the opportunity, would absolutely cover an entire room like this.  i mean, why not?  now i know how to make my own glue.