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 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! 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!

alphabetical stamps

i can't remember what it was, but i was perusing one of the many design blogs that i love the other day, and came across a rather fun and perhaps brilliant idea.  you all know how much i enjoy making return address stamps for people - what if i expanded on that idea, and created custom/themed stamps for other occasions?  currently i'm working on designs for initial stamps - that is, a stamp that contains one hand-drawn letter to represent someone's first initial.  it's the cool, chic way to sign things nowadays, right?  what?  you haven't heard this?  well, it's a good thing you're reading this, because now you can order your own initial hand stamp and be in with all the cool kids.



here's what i've got so far... more letters to come, and perhaps some holiday themed stamps as well.  when they're all finished, i may even open up that little etsy shop i've been neglecting for quite a while.  what do you think?  is there any interest in custom-designed wooden-handled rubber stamps out there in the world?




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