Alison Garwood Jones

Her Last Photo

September 12, 2022

Her smile was the same. Those girlish pointed canines that thousands of royal banquets and teeth-grindingly close horse races had never worn down.

The eyes were the same, merrily locking with the camera lens as if Cecil Beaton — her mother’s favourite camera-toting popinjay— had just zhuzhed up the flower arrangements and poked the fire into a roaring blaze.

The hunch was deeper. That still felt painfully new.

But it was the backs of her hands that announced the end was nigh.

They were an alarming deep purple, a colour that intensified the solitaire sparkle of Philip’s devotion, shining like a dying star on her left hand.

That got brighter on her way out.

It is these universals that inconveniently gloss over the centuries of arrogance and entitlement that the role of Monarch embodies.

It is why people, like me, with parents who were her exact contemporaries — he from England, she from the Cape Colony of South Africa, where Princess Elizabeth gave her famous 1947 “whether my life be long or short” radio address — have felt weepy these past few days.

It is these universals that make me slip on my mother’s engagement ring, custom-designed in London in 1949 by a pipe-smoking architecture student.

His sketches hoisted three very decent-sized diamonds atop a system of flying buttresses as breathtaking as Canterbury Cathedral, which he visited on his motorcycle during several thesis research trips. Mum typed up his final thesis comparing English and French Gothic architecture.

For a nation and a bombed-out city that was still rationing milk, lard, eggs and chocolate, its young men refused to cheap out on diamonds. Meanwhile, ridiculously practical women like my mother were ok with that.

As with the death of a Queen, sometimes in life we look the other way and just feel.

1940s engagement rings

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Back to School

August 19, 2022


You asked, and we responded.

Starting this fall, I’ll be teaching the NEW Micro Course versions of the University of Toronto SCS’s popular 12-week course Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media.

• 2875A – Digital Communications Strategy: Defining Your Business Objective – this 5-week course starts Wednesday, September 7th at 6 pm ET.

• 2875B – Digital Communications Strategy: Content Marketing and Distribution – this 6-week course starts Wednesday, October 12 at 6 pm ET.

If you can’t make it, not a problem! I will record the classes so you can learn at the pace and time you prefer.

And if you are asking, What’s the difference between the 12-week Digital Strategy Course and it’s 2 spin-off Micro Courses? Here’s how I explained it to a new student  who DM’d me on Twitter:

“The Micros help you upskill more quickly and prepare you for the constant changes in digital marketing. They focus on strategy and tactics with supporting examples and shorter assignments.  The advantage of the 12-week course is that you are given the chance to set up and build out a blog, vlog or podcast. You learn what it is like to maintain and establish a publishing rhythm, and build brand awareness around one project you are proud of. The 12-week version is great for people looking to take more time creating a website they can leverage into a new career or a new life. It’s about building your online castle on land you own.”

To get the full details about each of the course formats, click on the links above.

See you in class!



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Wednesday Sketches

August 17, 2022

Drawings by Alison Garwood-Jones

It’s an oddball mix today showing the pulse of humanity.

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Fall Courses

August 15, 2022

BACK TO SCHOOL: I’ve expanded my teaching lineup this fall to include a 5-week Micro Course designed for students looking to develop specific skills much faster through compact learning opportunities.

Head over to and type in these course numbers to learn more, or click the links below:

2875 – Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media (12 weeks)

2875A – Digital Communications Strategy: Defining Your Business Objective (5 week Micro-Course)

3681 – Writing Digital Content (12 Weeks)

See you in class!

Alison 🍎

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August 5, 2022

Joni does James! She feels good.

Playing with the technology of the Reface app.

Oh the things we can do! #Friyay

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Monetize That

July 26, 2022

Still one of my favourite episodes from “Monetize That,” my comic strip that unpacks success culture.

This episode was first published in 2019 — before Covid. It feels like it has found its footing even more profoundly in our current moment.

Monetize That web comic by Alison Garwood-Jones

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Summer in Toronto

July 25, 2022


Hey Pops, by Alison Garwood-Jones

“Hey Pops” (2019)

Can you spot the summer motif in this marker art?


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Weekends in Toronto

July 22, 2022

Weekends in Toronto are Beach Time. #Friyay

Behind the Scenes:

This morning’s video set up involves a ring light, tape, and lots of chopsticks.

Video Storytelling set up by Alison Garwood-Jones

Video Storytelling set up by Alison Garwood-Jones

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Be An Agitator

July 20, 2022

Jane Jacobs Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

Jane Jacobs’ persistence moved mountains. She was dismissed in multiple ways:

  • For not being an academic
  • Of being “a troublemaker”
  • Of being a “liberal agitator”
  • For being a woman
  • And finally, when nothing else worked, for being “wanton.” Yes, even Jane was accused of being an office slut by her managing editor at Iron Age magazine. Some dude named, T.W. Lippert.

“Ordinary people are capable of doing extraordinary things,” was how Jane responded, in between puffs on her pipe. Jane raised three kids with her beloved husband, Robert, and spent the rest of her energy challenging received wisdom about how (and for whom) cities should work.

May her example fire you up to take on our current roster of challenges.

Book Reco: Robert Kanigel’s amazing biography, Eyes on The Street:The Life of Jane Jacobs (Vintage, 2016)

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Storytime with Alison

July 20, 2022

My latest title is a video book for kids.

Even though I adore books on paper, I’m obsessed with experimenting with 21st-century publishing formats.

I self-published this picture book through my imprint, Pen Jar Productions. Private imprints are another nod to our ever-expanding creative frontiers.

PenJarProductions Imprint by Alison Garwood-Jones

When you are the writer, art director, and publisher you can pretend your digital imprint has international offices in London and Cape Town. This is where my parents were born. Hamilton is where I came of age. And Toronto is where I live.

Everything I draw and write is dedicated to my parents. I don’t want to gloss over those really personal tributes. Now I don’t have to.

Making things on my own excites me. Waiting to be picked does not. Nor does throwing myself at a century-old hierarchies built by others, with gatekeeping rules known to a few.

All the tools traditional publishers have relied on, we now have at our disposal. I really enjoy being an impresario in charge of design, layout, distribution, and marketing. But, I do need the help of a really good freelance copy editor before I hit publish.

Today you too can create your very own ecosystem of illustrations, comics, essays, videos and audio stories, and attend to it so it spreads freely like bacteria. Viruses get everyone’s attention, but they can permanently blow out your creative flame by devouring the host (i.e. you!).

If you’re in it for the work, the growth, and the meaning, and reaching those who might need your creations — vs. chasing fame, making noise, and demanding attention —  it’s such a welcome option.

Now go forth and create your own an ecosystem of meaning. The human connections you make will nourish you.


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