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!


antlers antlers wedding inspiration shoot

woodland_menus top over the holidays i had the great fortune to work with some amazing new clients, chicago-based wedding and event planners, and some very creative individuals. one of my favorite (favorite!) shoots took place at the historic keith house in chicago's prairie district. it's located in a pocket of chicago that's home to some old mansions, a quaint little park, one of my best friends, and a path that takes you straight to the lakefront.



splendid occasion shoot

woodland pc

tiffany siladke (a splendid occasion), a talented chicago-based wedding planner and event stylist, had such a gorgeous vision for this inspiration shoot. she wanted to air on the darker side of things - it being winter and all - and decided to incorporate some animal-inspired elements. complete with antlers, cages, fur, darker, lush florals from natural beauties florals, antique pieces from rent vintage chicago and aged vintage rentals, amazing pies from bang bang pie shop, the whole shoot had an amazing woodland wonderland/big bad wolf feel to it. not to mention the models were stunning, with hair and makeup from nika vaughan.

woodland_menus bottom

woodland pc4

i was asked to create some hand-lettered menus for the table design, a sign for the place card table, and individual place cards that fit into gold-painted animal figurines. tiffany hand-charred the edges of the paper, which gave everything even more of a forest-feel.

woodland pc close2

in truth, i loved putting together the paper elements for this shoot. and i love the photos even more. i can't quite share the professional (and might i say breathtaking) photos that karissa kreager took, but here are a few self-shots of the menus and place cards for you. i promise to share the full photo set once it's been published!



other vendors that worked on the shoot:

treat bags- fox and hound paperie,

invitation- tweedle press,

dress – nearly newlywed,

hairpiece –  danani handmade adornments,

men’s attire – bonobos,

video - amelia st. studios,

models - nick zmuda & bri kreager

new! art work available on etsy

i've been receiving a lot of lovely feedback on the newest september show up at both sides gallery in pilsen, chicago. and an overwhelming amount of questions on how to purchase the work, if it's for sale, where can it be shipped to, etc etc etc. sept second fridays

so! with great aplomb and excitement, i'm proud to announce that all the framed typographical illustrations currently on view at the gallery are also available for purchase through the jilly ink etsy shop. browse away, but remember- these are one-of-a-kind pieces of work, so be quick to the draw if you want one for yourself!


have a lovely and gorgeous and wonderful september autumn day!

the september issue

sept second fridays it may not involve 900 pages of glossy advertisements, and annie leibovitz-esque couture photographs of kiera knightly or cate blanchett, but the september issue (read: show) of artwork at both sides gallery in pilsen, chicago is, in my opinion, pretty spectacular. working in the same space as artist meg frazier has been nothing short of a dream. there are days when we both get nothing done, and spend the day talking about the situation of the artist, how to monitor our finances, what we'd like to be when we grow up, how we pretty much are what we'd like to be when we grow up... and then there are days when the music's playing (or not, if we forgot to turn it on, and we're in the zone) and she's painting and i'm drawing and we're laying down finished pieces like they're cookies coming out of the oven. and so, after all that baking.. err, making.. here's what we recently framed and put up on the walls of both sides gallery, just in time for the september edition of the chicago arts district's second fridays art walk.




{'tighter' | '10”x12” | $150 w frame }



{'stronger' | 8”x10” | $100 w frame }


{'softer' | 18.5”x8” | $150 w frame }


{'smaller' | 3.5”x4.5” | $25 w frame}


{'sharper' | 5”x 6.25” | $50 w frame}


{'clearer' | 5.5”x16.5” | $125 w frame}


{'deeper' | 19.5”x17” | $200 w frame}



{'longer' | 10.5”x16” | $150 w frame}

these lovely pieces are on display at both sides gallery - 1840 s halsted st. chicago, il 60608 - and will also be available for purchase in my shop next week, so send me an inquiry at if you want a stab at them first!

feel it in my bones

bathroom prints last weekend was my second showing at second fridays down in pilsen, at the lovely and welcoming and gorgeous space at both sides gallery. last month, i showed my wooden-books story installation piece, which was met with a wonderfully positive response.

pelvis illustration

femur bone illustration

calligraphy prints

this time around, i showed an edited version of that piece, along with some screenprints made while at saic, and a few cheeky custom illustration and calligraphy prints.

framed pelvis illustration

framed femur bone illustration

framed calligraphy prints

making these was so much fun. so much fun, that i think i'll prop open my massive gray's anatomy book (bought for $2 at the brown elephant in chicago), and start scouring for some more bones to to pair with suggestive phrases..


movin on over

hello darling readers! it's been almost a year now since i got my very first tattoo, and first tattoo design request, and this has prompted a massive revamp in my life and career. i could never have foreseen just how much my life has been shaped by starting down the path of custom calligraphy and illustrative work. it's always been something i do because i love it, because it's somewhat natural, because while i'm a writer, sometimes drawing helps me better express what it is i'm trying to share. and now, having jumped down the rabbit hole, i'm so pleasantly surprised and emboldened by the fact that this could all actually lead me somewhere. i'm so grateful for the support and love of friends and family to push me further down the hole, to widen it, deepen it, feel around in all corners and crevices for new or more powerful ways to build upon the strengths i already have. in that vein, i've begun to build two separate websites - will house all of my personal artistic work, writing, installations, as well as information about my yoga teaching. will house all things jillyink - from tattoo designs to other freelance calligraphy/illustration work. take a look around both sites; they're both in progress (especially the tumblr page), but i'm very excited about the possibilities to come from both arenas.

and tattooed in texas


the stars must be aligned.. just two weeks after i designed and got my very own, very first tattoo (post to come), i received a very cool email from a very cool lady down in dallas, texas, asking if i've ever considered designing one for someone else. 'why, of course!' i exclaimed, and there began our adventure in finding something that utilized my script, her three children's names (madelyn, mitchell and merritt - adorable), and a feeling of 'whimsy'. after a few back-and-forths, here's the final design. just like my dear friend adam's tattoo (which was inked this morning over in thailand!), i can't wait to see the design in its permanent home, on her forearm. thank you valerie, for allowing me to be a part of this amazing process!

a new york city bachelorette

so now that the champagne has been drunk, the dancing blisters healed, the photos posted on facebook, i can finally share with you the designs i created for both my cousin's bridal shower and my dear friend's bachelorette party.  both of these events were simply gorgeous and came together beautifully.

to start, the bridal shower was the epitome of summer colors.  bright pinks, fuschias , purples and oranges lined the tables by way of eye-popping table runners, fruit-studded salads, red sangria and multicolored big-petaled gerbera daisies.  the invitation was the kick-off to the theme, and when all was said and done, everything matched perfectly!

this past weekend's new york city bachelorette party was unlike the traditional veil and sash festivities that adorn many a bride-to-be before her nuptials.  we decided instead to give our bride something a bit different: a pop-up dinner party in the middle of the carl shurtz park on manhattan's upper east side.  complete with table and chairs, big balloons, tablecloth, flank steak salad with asparagus and blue cheese, grilled veggie sandwiches and sparkling lemonade (cocktails were had by all afterwards), it ended up exceeding our expectations in looks and substance.  the bride was totally surprised and exceedingly happy with the outcome of her blindfolded cab ride across the island.  it was truly a night like no other.

half-bunny pose

i knew that the people (there are 57 of us!) going through the yoga to the people teacher training with me were a talented bunch... we've got artists, actors, singers, dancers, designers, successful lawyers and more... but as i continue to get to know each of them better i am constantly floored as to how impressive this bunch is.  and so i'd like to take a moment to hightlight one of our own, illustrator brian russo, who put together this incredibly cute (and informative) sketch of a bunny (see the full illustration here)moving through the chataranga flow and yttp basic sequence:  

also, be sure to check out 'the bear and the chickadee', a series of drawings involving, well, a bear and a chickadee aboard an intense and death-defying plane ride.  brian's work is full of life and emotion, and there's even talk of those bunnies finding newfound fame as the basis for a tshirt design!

won't you be mine?

a very happy valentine's day to all the lovers out there - whether you're spending the day with friends, family or someone special, i hope you all take the opportunity to let the people you love know just how much they mean to you. this one is for my (doctor-in-training) valentine:

the text reads 'i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)' from the e.e. cummings poem... one of my favorites.  enjoy the day everyone - at the very least, treat yourself to a valentine's day decorated cupcake from magnolia bakery!

from here to there


i'm incredibly excited to share with you some illustrations that i've recently had published in the 'dossier' section of Boris Akunin's new novel, Sister Pelagia and the Red Cockerel.  for those who are interested, the basic gist of the story is that Pelagia, a nun with a strange and uncanny affinity for sleuthing, travels throughout Russia and into Israel in search of the person responsible for murdering a man called Manuila who is believed to be a prophet, and emerges not only with a culprit but with a clue to the earth's greatest secret.  as far as russian murder mystery novels go, it's actually not a bad read!


to emphasize Pelagia's journey throughout the story, i worked with the editor to illustrate several maps outlining the major stopping points in both Russia and Israel.  all of the drawings are hand drawn and hand lettered, and i had such a wonderful time completing them.  let me know what you think, and hopefully i'll have the opportunity to work on some more projects like this soon!


mmmm september

copyright jillian schiavi 2009 it's been a bit of a long hiatus, and a bit of a whirlwind end-of-summer for me.  from trips home to massachusetts, to a gorgeous and adventurous week in san francisco for the outside lands music festival, to visiting philadelphia and celebrating the start of 'fall' with friends and cocktails, i feel like august existed as part of a month-long dream, from which i just woke up, and it's suddenly the middle of september.

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

i absolutely love this time of year.  when i was younger (who am i kidding, if i had reason to do it now, i would), i used to go crazy for school supplies.  color coordinated binders, folders, notebooks (3-subject, college-ruled, 5 star), mechanical pencils, black (never blue) ink pens, the list goes on.  there's something refreshing, settling and exciting all at the same time about starting a new school year, and i've recently felt myself missing that sensation.  maybe i should have taken my father's teasing about becoming a teacher more seriously... really though, i think this itch means that it's about time i went back to graduate school.

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

i've always felt that if i was going to invest more time (and more time spent paying back more loans) into another degree, it would be for something i'm really passionate about.  something that i may not have looked at as a 'serious' point of study, perhaps because it's not regarded as particularly practical or career-oriented.  something that i've always loved to do, that i keep coming back to subconsiously; something that i've continually tried to integrate into various areas of my life.  now, there are 3 things that fit that description: performance (acting), writing and illustration.  if i could find a way to include all three into my graduate studies (and post-graduate career path), i would be ecstatic.  if it was possible to include two of the three, i would be thrilled.  if i could only focus on one, i would be immensely happy. 

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

whatever i'm able to find (and this is if i even get accepted to program), i know that fine art and illustration will be the main emphasis.  i'm still putting my portfolio together, and these are a few pieces that i'll be including for admission.  any feedback or suggestions would be more than welcome, and thank you for coming along with me on this (slightly trepidatious) journey!

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

on the road again

so after a wonderfully relaxing weekend at home in massachusetts, a weekend filled with a 5am wake up call in the form of thousands of white-dress-hungry future wives at the twice annual 'running of the brides' event in boston, steven tyler-obsessed cover bands at the green fest in boston's gov't center, a late night time traveler's rendition of a most beloved book, a thunderstorm-riddled pick up at the beach and subsequent changing of a redundant swim suit, and more ben & jerry's than i've eaten through the entire summer thus far, i am on my way back to an equally heated and humid city, new york.  it doesn't seem like the end will be near anytime soon, however, as from my seat onboard megabus the line of cars in front of us along route 95 stretches far beyond the horizon.  and so i'm attempting to watch brideshead revisited (although the internet keeps slowing, causing the movie to pause every minute and  half), and research places to go in san francisco this week when i fly out there.  anyone have any favorites? so while i try to keep occupied and not think of the hours ahead of me on this lurching vehicle, i'll leave you with another new illustration for the sketchbook project.  this is for my very good friend jessie's page - she's ever growing in talent, creativity, friendship, life, love and everything beautiful, just as i think of the roots and branches and flowers and leaves of an oak tree.  this will be filled in soon, but here is the initial skeleton:

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

cheers and happy sunday,


for the love of a ceiling fan

so remember the other day when i was blissfully reminded of the coming of autumn?  and then when i wished aloud that the weather would remain in its non-humid-slightly-cool-just-warm-enough state?  well it seems that i jinxed it.  for the past 4 or 5 days my roommates and i have been subjected to excruciatingly hot and humid nights, trying to lie as still as possible to catch whatever small breeze that happened to fly in through a window or down from our overeager (and underachieving) ceiling fans.  i suppose it's a bit too late to invest in an air conditioner - does anyone have any suggestions for cooling down a room in which it feels as though a bikram yoga class just took place?  i'll keep researching... and in the meantime savor the conditioned air of my office building as long as i can.  

on the sketchbook project front, i've got some progress to share!  here's the initial sketch for my brother alex's page:

copyright jillian schiavi 2009

he's an incredible track and field athlete (who just got an amazing scholarship for his senior year at temple!), and so i wanted to congratulate and commemorate all of the hard work he's put into running, jumping, throwing and hurdling.  love!


more to come soon - cheers!

these hands

i've always been (a bit abnormaly) obsessed with handwriting.  with my handwriting, to be more precise.  i'm possessive of it - slightly ridiculous i know, but if there's ever the opportunity to sign a card, address an envelope, write an inscription on a gift, even pencile out a grocery list for my mum to take shopping, i always insist on writing it.  my younger sister can attest that it must get annoying, my handwriting forever representative of our family's well-wishes, congratulations, weekly coffee and cheese intake.  but i also happen to know that she covets it almost as much as i do.  see, back in the fifth grade i had a problem with handwriting.  it was lovely, yes, but far far too small.  my language arts teacher even called my mum to see if she could hold any influence in making it more readable.  i was resistant, though.  i didn't, and i still don't, like big fonts.  i was never a very loopy-letterer (although 'loopy' in another sense might be somewhat applicable), always more precise with clean, slender, vertical lines, albeit at the time very small.  i loved my handwriting, but as fate would have it, i loved hillary sackett's more.  i loved how fluid it looked, how she juxtaposed the soft rounded bellies of her 'b's with the sharp edges of her 'v's and 'z's.  her writing was less slanted, more straight-forward, with hints of playfulness tucked into the tails of 'g', 'j' and 'y'.  i wanted it.  i needed it.  and so i studied it, every day as we sat through math, reading, social studies.  it helped that she was my best friend at the time (and indeed, she still is a very good friend, despite my thieving history), and it helped that i was focused.  soon i had almost perfectly copied her handwriting, with small alterations left over from my previously meticulous and tight method of lettering.  

of course, my handwriting has evolved since the fifth grade.  i've picked up new ways of forming my 'n's, 'm's and 'h's.  i've toiled over whether or not to add a curve to the end of my 't's, a line through my 'z's.  it may have started off as a carbon copy of hillary's gorgeous penmanship, but it's now completely recognizable as my own, a lettered display of my personality and aesthetic (and one which my own sister has since tried to copy herself).  it's taken me some time to realize this, though it should have been apparent since that pivotal moment when i finally perfected hillary's lowercase 'r's, but i would be overjoyed if my life and my work revolved around sharing my penmanship with the world.  i suppose this is why i'm embarking on this venture to provide handlettered invitations, signs, letters, logos, really anything that would benefit from all the love and pride i put into anything i write.  i think it's important to understand why people come to certain decisions.  this is one that's been there all along, patiently waiting for me to wake from a haze and literally look at what's been under my nose the whole time.


copyright jillian schiavi 2009

away she goes

my dear dear friend alexis just arrived in the pacific northwest two days ago for a month long theater intensive. she'll then return to nyc for about a month before she leaves again (this time for who knows how long - even she doesn't), chicago-bound. and while i know she'll have an amazing time and that this is a much needed and much deserved change for her, it still doesn't change the fact that i'll miss her very very much. and so, the great state of new york expresses my feelings: copyright jillian schiavi 2009