Alison Garwood Jones

McSweeney’s found me

January 17, 2012

While I was waiting to hear from some of my editors yesterday, I made soup and messed around on the internet.

Later that afternoon, I  went to the library and pulled a book off the shelf that looked interesting only to discover a painting of me inside its pages (I haven’t sat for anybody). Turning to a random book for inspiration only to find that you were someone else’s inspiration is an oddly circular experience.

The book, More Things Like This (2009) is an anthology about the intersection of art, writing and humour.


It was edited by Dave Eggers and is one of the McSweeney’s anthologies published by Chronicle Books out of San Francisco. It contains a marvelous culturally contexualized introductory essay by New York Times theatre critic Michael Kimmelman and contributions from Art Spiegelman, Andy Warhol, Shel Silverstein, Kurt Vonnegut, Leanne Shapton, and more. Yes, folks, I’m milking this big time ’cause making it into the pages McSweeney’s (even as a silent sitter) is like getting the thumbs up from The New Yorker, only I never thought I would be in McSweeney’s this way.

Is it just me or is this me?

I’ll let you be the judge. The painting, called ” Poster Maker,” is by The Royal Art Lodge, a hip and now defunct art collective out of Winnipeg and one of the contributors to the anthology.

Now turning to the snapshot below: this is me, age 6, drawing a giant milkshake. I was playing at my dad’s office while he talked to important people on the phone.

Unlike the painting above, there was nothing subversive about my message, except, maybe, for the delivery. I remember those stubby markers made a deafening squeak every time I coloured in the solid areas. I coloured my arm off for the same reason I attached cardboard squares with clothespins to my bicycle spokes — so I could sound badass even if I couldn’t be badass (how could I? I had  handlebar streamers and a  basket on my bike).

p.s. If the painting is me, I think one of the guys in the Lodge saw it in an issue of Elle Canada several years ago. When an editor in chief doesn’t feel like writing a monthly message, they ask the other editors on staff to find a kid pic and we throw them on the page to delight and amuse the readers.

Update: if you want to find out what happened, here’s the whole story.


12 responses to “McSweeney’s found me”

  1. theliteraryman says:

    SO COOL. Inspiring for the rest of us blinding submitting our art and praying to the gods of good editing. . .

  2. Yep, that is about as you as you can get. Congrats!

  3. Innocent Bystander says:

    Looks like you! Congratulations!

  4. PatriceFitz says:

    Definitely you! It is so exact. You got a skosh more Asian looking in the McSweeney's rendition, I think.

    Congratulations on being such an inspiration.

  5. Danielle says:

    How weird is this? What a fluke that you actually saw it, as well. I guess you can be a touch grateful that it wasn't a pic of you in the tub:) Pretty sure we all have a few of those from our childhood.

  6. Meghan Adamson says:

    How cool is that AGJ!!!
    Coincidence? Or maybe just the world reminding you you’re amazing…


  7. Emily says:

    How about that? I guess it just goes to show that we inspire people more often than we think!

  8. Neil Farber says:

    This is Neil from The Royal Art Lodge. There is no doubt that your photo from Elle Canada is the inspiration for that painting. We used magazines like that for source material quite often. It's amazing that you found the picture and recognized yourself. That is actually one of our most popular paintings. Please email me if you like ( I would love to send you something for being the girl from "Poster Making"

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