Alison Garwood Jones

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.

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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.

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Monday sketches

May 11, 2020

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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?🧐😫

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The Ink Spot: learn perspective

May 5, 2020

In today’s 60-second art lesson, I’ll show you my very un-mathematical trick for capturing perspective. No rulers were involved! 🎨

If you would like to practice the steps I teach, swipe left and use my Neighbourhood Trampoline drawing as a tracing tool.

Or, go crazy and colour the houses! Featured here: the marker magic of Megan Garson. Thanks for enjoying the challenge, Megan!

Colouring page by Alison Garwood-Jones, coloured by Megan G.

You can get the download by visiting my art studio and signing up for my newsletter at

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Coloring during Covid-19

April 29, 2020

It’s been very funny looking out my fourth-storey window and seeing little heads jumping up between the rooftops. 🧒🏻 🧒🏻 👦 🧒🏻 👦

Gif of Kids Jumping on a Trampoline by Alison Garwood-Jones
Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones-Jones

I checked Google Trends and, just as I suspected, search for “Trampolines” during the Covid quarantine is WAY UP! 📈

No alt text provided for this image

Have you caved in and purchased a backyard trampoline for your little jumping beans⁉️

GIVEAWAY: ✏️Would you like a coloring project? ✏️ Sign up for my design studio newsletter at and download my Trampoline image (uncolored) for free. ♥️

Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones at

I recommend coloring the picture using pencil crayons or markers. 

🖼 Show me your masterpiece by tagging me on Instagram: @AlisonGJ and adding  #TrampolineDrawing

You are free to unsubscribe whenever you wish. 

Happy coloring! 🎨 

Alison xo

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Home during a pandemic

April 26, 2020

Illustrator Alison Garwood-Jones doing prep photos for a custom house illustration.
Illustrator Alison Garwood-Jones doing prep photos for a custom house illustration.

During the Covid-19 quarantine, neighbours have asked me, “Will you draw my home?” ✏️ 🏡 Yesterday, I needed to stand on a GMC Sierra pickup truck to photograph one West End Victorian. 🚘 Torontonians know how hilly High Park is. ⛰ ⛰ Most homes have steep lawns and 10-20 steps to reach the front door. Standing on the roof of a truck (thanks, Greg!), I was almost level enough to get some reference photos for my first sketches. 

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Change …

April 22, 2020

Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Sheryl Sandberg
Alexandrian Ocasio Cortez

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Thoughts on the Supply Chain

April 21, 2020

This is the Squill Pillow I designed and began selling last year from my Toronto Studio, PenJarProductions. 🎨

It’s squill season in Ontario and the ravines in Toronto are carpets of purple. The arrival of Spring flowers and beer on patios 🍺 are two phenomena that make grown Cannadians squeal like children in line at an ice cream truck. 🍦 

Now the beer and the flower designs are on hold. 🛑 

Three weeks before we went into Covid lockdown, the wonderful printer who was making and shipping my squill design on pillows shut down after 15-plus years in business. It was due, in part, to the effect of globalization on Canadian companies. 

Talk about local, they were up the street from me! 🏠 🚌

It was a dream while it lasted. 🌞 #ThanksFriends

But there’s hope: this pandemic may be the ass kicking we needed to rethink the global economy and change who we buy from and how we work. 

If we went into this pandemic listening hard to the words of Greta Thunberg,🇳🇴 maybe we’ll emerge from it with a new commitment to reviving #MadeInCanada#ThinkLocal 🇨🇦

Globalization’s far-flung supply chains have been giving artists and creative entrepreneurs, like me, next to no affordable local options to source blank T-shirts and home decor fabrics. In the last 50 years, the textile industry in Canada has pretty much shut down and moved offshore to India, Indonesia and China. 

But now the provinces are procuring products and services for surgical masks and gowns from hundreds of innovative small and medium-sized Canadian businesses to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Let’s extend that self-reliance to the time when we’re past this health crisis. Let’s bring the supply chains home. 

If anyone hears of a Toronto-based or Canadian fabric printer who is ethically and sustainably sourcing their supplies within Canada, DM moi, please! I’m looking for a new partner. 

I want to be part of a new solution.

~ Not The End ~

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Home recording

April 18, 2020

🎙 Head to the closet. This is an old home recording trick, but it works!

🎙 Being industrious and employed during Covid-19 is a confidence booster. Gratitude is good for your body and mind.

🎙 For this job, I host/facilitate a medical webinar. I feel at home with the topics — diabetes, heart disease, depression, addiction — given the years I spent interviewing medical experts and writing health articles for magazines.

Home podcast recording studio by Alison Garwood-Jones

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