Alison Garwood Jones

Q&A with Alison

July 27, 2020

Q&A with Alison Garwood-Jones

What’s your name? – Alison

What’s your best advice to young women? – Take breaks

And to young men? – Notice your surroundings, and stand up where necessary.

What’s your Five-Year Plan? – Five-year? This is 2020. No one makes 5 year plans anymore. Six months is more like it.

What’s on your lap? – My planner. Only I’m not using it to track my social media campaigns.

Explain – Since Covid began, I feel compelled to fill in the date spaces with a run down of all the explosions in the economy and job market. You know, this restaurant closed, that department store is toast, sales of floaties are up. etc. etc.

Why are you doing that? – Because it’s the only way I know how to decipher where the opportunities might lie for me and my friends in a Covid and post-Covid world. I ain’t tracking my Instagram followers like I was reluctantly doing pre-pandemic.

Why reluctantly? – I don’t take a scoreboard approach to anything.

Who’s your mentor: Anyone redefining the American definition of success.

Cats or dogs? – Look for Henry in my Instagram feed and you’ll know.

Finish this sentence: the worst kind of man ….: is over-reliant on free female labour.

Finish this sentence: the best kind of man …: sees the potential in humans who are nothing like him and looks for ways to help them succeed.

… The worst kind of woman: votes against the best interests of her gender (more life-altering stuff happens to us).

… And the best? – Becomes who she was meant to be and gives back twice as much because she feels empowered.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about yourself during the Quarantine? – That I’m still born to be a freelancer.

Why do you look so surprised? ~ Because I’m wondering how you got into my apartment.

Comment on this post »


The Reinventionist

July 21, 2020

Joe Jackman, The Reinventionist

My brain cells were popcorn listening to Joe Jackman in conversation with Tara Hunt and Stefani Forster for the Anatomy of a Strategy Podcast (July 5, 2020 episode). As Joe says, “The future arrives daily. Create it now. Get it out of the lab. You don’t need to place big bets. Be thoughtful about where you are going, and learn your way into it. If you are not participating in the creation of the future, then it’s being done to you.” 

I picked up a copy of Joe’s latest book, The Reinventionist, to keep the conversation going.

Here is the link to the podcast episode.

This post is dedicated to anyone taking classes to survive change, especially those over 40. 

See you in class at University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies

Comment on this post »


Covid-19 Poster

July 17, 2020

Guess what? I added your suggestions and created “Business Is Up – Part Deux” THE POSTER (11”x17”) ✏️ 

In mid-March, still stunned that gyms and restaurants had suddenly evaporated, ☁️ I started pulling together a list of businesses that were growing during the Coronavirus Pandemic. 📈

I posted the first edition on Instagram last week, and asked you to weigh in with more ideas in the comments. 💬 

Turning the list into a poster felt like a good way to capture this weird moment in 21st-century history. Think of this as a silver linings list of businesses who are thriving right now.🌻

Here is the page in my shop.

Again, I didn’t include toilet paper or hand sanitizer; those were too obvious. 🚽 🧻 

I’m sure this is not the final word. 

Happy Friday! 🏖 


Comment on this post »


Hotel Art

July 17, 2020

In 2018, the designers at Mason Studio commissioned me to paint a series of tiny watercolour portraits for the Kimpton Hotel in Toronto.

The Kimpton St. George, Toronto

It was a cross section of local talent, from Drake and Deepa Mehta to Frank Gehry and Robbie Robertson. 

Canadian Icons Poster by Alison Garwood-Jones

The small format makes you lean in and listen hard to their secrets about life. 

Canadian Icon Portraits by Alison Garwood-Jones in the Kimpton St. George Hotel in Toronto.
Watercolour portrait of Robbie Robertson by Alison Garwood-Jones



Comment on this post »


Custom portraits

July 17, 2020

If you haven’t heard of Dawn Bazley, you’ve seen her on TV (@CBC) talking about the proper way to use masks during #Covid19.

Portrait of biologist Dr. Dawn Bazley by Alison Garwood-Jones

@DrBazley is field biologist, #STEMStar, and mentor to hundreds of #STEMgirls and guys who gather around her like ducklings at York University in Toronto.

In addition to being a full professor, she is the former Director of York’s Institute for Research Innovation and Sustainability. 

REWIND: I met Dawn at @PodCampToronto a couple of years ago and quickly realized that her knowledge of tech was as wide and deep as the grasslands she studies. 

In June, Dawn asked me to draw a portrait she could use for her social media channels and user ID in podcasts and webinars. 

I sent the image this morning and by this afternoon it appeared in a virtual interview she did with @JoVEJournal, who wanted to hear more about how she has pivoted during the pandemic from IRL instruction to virtual field courses.

Dawn is not outfitted with brakes.

Like Jane Jacobs, she is what I call a true #KickAss Woman. 


Comment on this post »


House Portraits

July 17, 2020

PROCESS PORN: I think the architecture of a house determines my drawing style.

Houses in Toronto's Annex drawn by Alison Garwood-Jones
Annex houses drawn by Alison Garwood-Jones

I suspect there are a few other mysterious factors that go into it. I haven’t settled on a cookie cutter style. When I do, I’ll stop and draw something else. 

My latest commission, an ivy-covered Georgian in Toronto, was a birthday present for a client’s husband. They now live in Victoria, B.C. but wanted a keepsake of the Toronto residence that was the first home for their daughter, Olive, and the last home for their Redbone Coonhound, Rooney. Here’s a peek into my process, from photograph to sketch to final.

Showing my process from sketch to final. These houses are in Rosedale and High Park, Toronto.
Houses on hills require standing on the top of my partner’s truck to take a pic.

PS: I hope to get back to printing my house portraits on pillows and totes. If you are a local printer who is eco and ethical, let’s talk!

Custom house drawings by Alison Garwood-Jones
I am looking for a new printing partner (local to Toronto, eco and ethical) so I can go back to creating custom pillows, totes and tees.

Comment on this post »


Food trucks could help us in a pandemic

July 3, 2020

Quarantine pods of people sitting in a park, being fed by food trucks.
Cities should make it easier for food trucks to serve the public in parks during a pandemic

And just like that restaurants evaporated. 

But the need to gather, gossip and drink never left us.

We are water. Obstruct our flow and we’ll find other outlets.

During Covid, the park next to my house has been relatively active during the day, but at night it comes alive: dozens upon dozens of quarantine pods bobbing on checkered rafts across the grass, all sharing food, drinks, gripes, and observations. 

My partner has taken to calling it, “Pub in the Park.” Like a floor manager, he did a headcount and the covers exceeded 100.

This week, as cities across North America test the reopening of restaurants (based more on hope than science), over half the public say they plan to stay away until a vaccine is found. 

Restaurants can’t survive on 50% capacity, not even 80%. 

That sent my brain into “What If” mode: 

Applying the old marketing axiom, “Fish where the fish are,” WHAT IF municipal governments made it easier and more affordable to operate food trucks so restaurants could take their concepts to park gatherings? Pre-pandemic, miles of red tape and exorbitant permit fees made food trucking a losing proposition for almost all small to medium-sized restaurants. WHAT IF city councils waived the permit fees for restaurants trying to generate rent for their brick and mortar locations? After all, build it and they will come — or, open it and they will come — is a pipe dream right now. 

I’m told, food trucks are expensive and take a long time to manufacture. Installation is quite complicated. If we could step up the production of tanks during WWII, why not food trucks during an equally serious and transformative moment like this? New circumstances call for fresh thinking. Humans need to eat, but we also need to socialize safely. Body, mind and soul must be fed during a deadly crisis. 

On a parallel note, I have a few friends, who skew more towards the hippy end of the spectrum, who are selling/ subletting their city apartments and living in RV’s for the foreseeable future. It all ties back to this theme of taking to the road, living safely at a distance, and rejecting the pressure of rent and mortgages. 

I invite the experts to pick apart this idea.

Comment on this post »


The Ink Spot: Drawing Faces

June 10, 2020

In today’s 60-second art lesson, I show you my way of drawing faces. 🎨

Loose is better and fun is key.

Making art should feel like going down a hill on your bike.

Comment on this post »


Monday sketches

May 11, 2020

Comment on this post »


Showing emotion

May 6, 2020

Do we telegraph our emotions through our eyes 👀? Or is it a combination of our eyes AND our mouth? 👄

It’s a good question!

My friend Jean Chow (@Entrepreneurgal) teaches a course on effective networking at the University of Toronto (@UofTSCS- 3587). 

Jean says good networking is about confronting your fears, and understanding other people’s fears. “Small talk is big,” she says, “when you ask the right questions.”

Jean uses my first set of faces during class discussions on facial recognition. “Most people in social situations wear masks,” she says, unlike the character in my drawings who holds nothing back! 

Are the eyes the best way to read someone's emotions? Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones.

At Jean’s request, I’ve updated the illustrations and added pandemic masks to the faces.

Are the eyes the best way to read someone's emotions? Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones.

I still think it’s almost all in the eyes. What do you all think?🧐😫

Comment on this post »

error: Content is protected !!