Alison Garwood Jones

Handrawn social media portraits vs. bitmojis

February 16, 2018

Illustration of Eden Robinson, author

Does your #bitmoji express the real you (even with 1.9 septillion options)?

Not in my books.

Hand-drawn #portraits catch the flutter of your spirit and reveal your hidden strengths way better than the frozen stare of digitized art.

Portrait Sketch by Alison Garwood-Jones

Email me if you’re looking for an illustrated social media profile picture. Because creativity is a part of everyone’s job description today. — P.S. I could even make you a #superhero!

Joe Shuster as Superman, by Alison Garwood-Jones

I’m at

There, I’m done shilling.

#gigeconomy #drawing #doodling #graphicvisualizer #marketing #branding #freshperspectives #YourCreativePotential #creativemindset

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February 12, 2018

Pinecones and Berries Painting by Alison Garwood-Jones

Bluebird winter day. #illustration #watercolour #nature

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Homemade brush holder

February 10, 2018

Joe Shuster illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones, with homemade brush holder

My brushes kept rolling off my desk. Then I remembered that old salt dough recipe from First Grade, and I baked a brush holder! In this sketch, it’s Joe Shuster, co-creator of #Superman.

Most Americans don’t realize Superman sprung from a Canadian brain. But it makes sense to us. We’re quiet, we’re strong, and we have eachother’s backs — all the qualities that Clark Kent and Superman have.

America would never have created such a bland, straight arrow.

#SuperHeroes #pentelbrushpen #watercoloursketch #toronto #canadianheroes

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James Baldwin

January 29, 2018

James Baldwin cartoon by Alison Garwood-JonesWhen the going gets tough, the weak blame.
It appears to be a human default setting.
I often dream of good deeds,
And individually extracting myself from the white man’s shitty record on race.
“But you can’t,” Ta-Nehisi Coates told a podscast audience I was part of …
“Any more than I can get out of being black.”
OK then, this I know: putting others down to raise yourself Up lowers everyone.
Look, it’s burning up my fair countenace with frustration that this madness persists!
If democracy is civilized disagreement,
Then I disagree with history’s stance on race.
Get some new thoughts, fair ones.

Cartoon Bubble Sources:

I Am Not Your Negro, by Raoul Peck
Remember This House, an unfinished manuscript by James Baldwin
The Fire Next Time, by James Baldwin
WTF Podcast with Marc Maron, Episode 878.


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Living in a success culture

January 20, 2018

My Mother Died, cartoon by Alison Garwood-Jones

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Student Success Stories

January 2, 2018

Do what you love - Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

If you are on this page because you’re thinking of enrolling in my U of T  Digital Strategy course this winter, I can see you! Seriously. I’m glad you stopped by.

Whenever I take a course — I took Creating Comics and Graphic Novels (2489) last fall — I always Google the instructor. I want to know who they are, what they are accomplishing outside of class, and if they have an original spark before I commit to spending several months with them.

I’ve been teaching Digital Strategy and Communications Management since the fall of 2014.

In that time, digital communications has evolved (and devolved) by leaps and bounds. My course has adapted with every twist and turn social media has taken, and it provides up-to-the-minute strategies on how to build and market your blog, vlog or podcast.

As a digital journalist, illustrator and the web series host of Willful, I know a thing or two about combining creativity with an entrepreneurial spirit, and how key digital tools are to showing your work.

U of T Learn More Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

Let me share a couple of success stories so you can see how some of my former students have leveraged the course learnings to start new projects, or to land some really cool gigs in digital, marketing and PR:

Andy: Andreanne was already an established beauty blogger at  A Certain Romance  when she signed up for my class last summer. Her goal was clear: she wanted to increase her visibility and get her first paid gig as a blogger/influencer. By week 2 of the course, she had crafted a focused SMART goal (take the course and I’ll explain what that means). By week 12, she had organically increased her subscribers by 54% and her pageviews by 140%.  Shortly after the course was over, Andy was offered an unpaid community management internship with a natural beauty company (which she declined). She also interviewed for a paid position as a community manager/content creator for a beauty distributor. She decided it wasn’t a right fit, so she kept looking. In the meantime, an offer to do her first sponsored post came in. This past spring, she hit the jackpot when she was picked to be the new Web and Social Media Editor at Canadian House and Home‘s French Edition, Maison & Demeure. This week, she got her business cards! Fun fact: for Andy’s first assignment, she was tasked with translating into French one of my feature articles from Canadian House & Home, then promoting it on social. The way I see it, we’re all in this together.

Photo of Andreanne Dion, beauty blogger

Photo: Andreanne by Nick Reynolds

Kamini: Kamini signed up for my class hoping to gain some new digital skills during her job search. She created a WordPress blog about her cat Hewitt. Do we really need another cat or cupcake blog. Yes, if it’s funny and well-produced. Last spring, when Kamini was preparing for a  job interview with Portable Intelligence, she was  used her blog as her portfolio, and reviewed all 12 class decks so she felt prepared. Things went well and she ended up showed her blog and some of her cat videos during her interview.  Last June Kamini said yes to Portable Intelligence and became their Digital Marketing Specialist. It was her very first job in Canada since moving to Toronto from India. Go Kamini! PS: She has since retired her blog URL. Hewitt has moved on.

hewitt the cat

Hewitt by Kamini

Julian: Julian was the first student I had who chose to use the course to set up a podcast. The idea of creating a series of  fun and plain-speaking interviews for young gays who were new to big city living had been percolating in his mind for some time. In the fall of 2016, Julian debuted The Sassy Gay. Since then, he has kept a regular posting schedule and the show has become a recognized source of support in the LGBT community. Posts include: The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness and Coming out to your mom. He has also branched out and created a web series called Process where he interviews artists. Julian told me he was inspired by the class to challenge himself in the audio and video storytelling spaces. I’m proud of this guy.

• Shiva: Shiva Kumar Shunmugam took my online class in the Winter of 2016. He was one of the most active and engaged students in this class of 35. So much of what Shiva did and said was rooted in kindness and his strong desire to help other students who were adjusting to the demands of digital communications in their workplaces. When Hurricane Harvey hit metropolitan Houston last August, Shiva, who manages the social media accounts for Beaumont, a town in northern Alberta. This Digital Strategy grad donned his superhero cape to help a family reaching out for help on their social media feeds. Here is a teaser from CTV:

BEAUMONT, Alta. — Shiva Kumar Shunmugam was wrapping up a lazy summer afternoon tending to social media feeds for the Alberta town of Beaumont when a strange request came into the fire hall’s Facebook page.

“Terrell houses are flooding need help,” it said.

Beaumont, Alta., a town of about 18,000 just south of Edmonton, doesn’t have a Terrell neighbourhood and the area hadn’t seen a drop of rain in almost a week.

Shunmugam quickly realized he was dealing with someone in Beaumont, Texas, a community not far from Houston, that has a Terrell Avenue and was hit by Hurricane Harvey.

A woman near Dallas was seeking a rescue for her daughter’s family of four who had floodwater rushing into their Beaumont home.

In her frantic search for help, the mother mistakenly happened upon the page for the fire department in Beaumont, Alta., 3,800 kilometres away.

Shunmugam swung into action. Here he is:

Shiva Kumar Shunmugam

You can read the full story of Shiva’s life saving community management tactics here. Suffice it to say, I’m proud to know this guy.

Since I started teaching, I have witnessed many success stories. One more pops to mind. A lot of people who come to my class are fleeing dying industries.  David was a copy editor at The Hamilton Spectator who felt confident enough with the new digital smarts he acquired in class to seek a job as a Communications Associate at the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. “It was only a matter of time before the paper let me go,” he said. Like so many, David abandoned print media in favour of a communications job with more growth potential and stability.

Join me this winter is you want to learn how to adapt to the new digital economy, or apply a strategic mindset to an idea you have for a written blog, web series or podcast. I’m teaching sections 072 (in-class) and 074 online.

I hope to see you soon,


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Sixties style

January 1, 2018

Pierre Cardin fashions

In this New Year’s Instagram Trunk Show, I’m modelling a tunic from Pierre Cardin’s Cosmocorps Collection from 1967.

Monsieur Cardin turns 96 this July.

I hope he still gets a charge from a needle pulling thread like I do from his space age designs and those kooky sixties model poses.

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Kitchen prep

January 1, 2018

Beans on the boil illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

In my latest adventure, I worked as a kitchen prep cook at The Merchant Taps & Tavern.

The Christmas season was busy and they needed extra hands.

Suiting up in a fresh apron and rubber gloves, I spent each day making 40-lb meatloafs, prepping giant containers of jerk chicken marinade, mixing big bowls of fragrant apple pie filling dusted with freshly ground sticks of cinnamon, and cutting and portioning calamari into seven ounce servings. It’s been go-go-go.

Because the burners on the main line were busy for the lunch rushes, the owner set me up with a portable burner in a back kitchen so I could work independently and cook down all the apples I had peeled for the pies.

There is nothing more satisfying than adding heat to a bunch of ingredients and having them open up and flood your sense of smell. Apples, butter, sugar and cinnamon. A simple mirepoix of diced onions, carrots and celery moved around in some butter over a flame.

Bending down and breathing it in increases my sense of wellbeing.

This recipe always makes the broken state of social media seem less tragic.

This January, the owner is promoting me to salads.

The above illustration, which I drew on the line using pen and watercolour pencils, shows Greg Garson prepping the bean paste for the cheese & ale dip and a range of pies, including leek & salmon, turkey, and sweet potato.

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December 27, 2017

BFFs by Alison Garwood-JonesLesley and Elan, BFFs.

Watercolour sketch by Alison Garwood-Jones

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Swimming types

December 23, 2017

Swimmer stereotypes by Alison Garwood-Jones

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