Alison Garwood Jones


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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Does your boss make you work weekends?

July 15, 2022

It’s important that our bosses and clients don’t set Monday deadlines that pressure us into working on the weekends. (Working for yourself is another story).

By speaking up en masse, we can steer our culture into recognizing that weekends are sacred time that are meant to be spent how we see fit: napping, doing laundry, taking a fun course, going for a hike.

When we regularly rest and step away, we go back to work on Monday in fighting form.

I made this “Step Away Guide” for a group called “the Laini girls” back in the Spring when they were studying for exams.

The Step Away Guide by Alison Garwood-Jones

Laini is a program created by Jamii Esplanade that is about giving “every young woman the confidence and tools to see themselves as leaders. It’s about equal chances and the ability for all to walk the path of leadership.”

“Laini” is a Swahili word that means ‘to flatten an area with the intent of making it accessible.’

I culled the tips from my own life, hoping I could help support them as they prepare to enter university, then the workforce.

This generation has a strong sense of right and wrong. They wrestle with this in their quiet moments. Justice is their middle name.

I look forward to them stepping up into leadership roles sooner than later.

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Your ancestors are cheering you on

July 11, 2022

After your folks die, you spend years going through what remains.

Sometimes what you discover makes you feel as if your relatives are wooting and cheering from the great beyond.

To wit: I vaguely recall my family saying that my grandmother owned and operated a small restaurant in London in the 1950s. The Pier Restaurant on Pier Road was in the borough of Bexley on the south bank of the Thames River. In this photo, is that grandma in her apron arranging the displays inside the restaurant?

The Pier Restaurant, London, England

Looking at the lineup of cakes and patisseries in the big bay window, the mid-century storefront lettering, and the Helene Hanff figure of a woman passing by, I like to imagine that grandma made sandwiches and sold Lyons cakes to the staff working a few doors down at a secondhand bookshop specializing in out-of-print books. I made up that part. I can only see a hardware store and a bakery on either side of her business.

Man, would I have loved to hear more stories about grandma the business woman …

When I turn the photo over, I learn that my dad, Trevor, took the picture. Probably with that Leica camera he looked down into. He wrote, “Mother’s Restaurant, 1955” and the caption, “Lettering and hanging ‘Restaurant’ sign by Trevor!” Yes, the exclamation point was his. Later, in a different coloured pen, he inserted the update, “Now demolished,” — probably after one of his many trips back to the old neighbourhood in the 1970s.

I didn’t know that restaurant lettering was in my dad’s background until I saw this photo recently. And I certainly didn’t know it when, on a whim, I started doing lettering for several restaurants in downtown Toronto sixty years later.

Alison Garwood-Jones-Jones designing restaurant windows.
Alison designing the windows at the much loved and missed resto, The Merchant.

Restaurant window designed by Alison Garwood-Jones

Sometimes those moments in your life when you say “Yes!” to a brand new adventure, the excitement you feel is actually a chorus of support from the past.

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July 5, 2022

Blue woman by Alison Garwood-Jones

Joan is not the first to ponder the arc of civilizations.

They peak and then they fall.

The Romans, the Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Americans.

She came of age during a peak.

Now she’s observing the fall.

Every day, relentless corruption, catastrophe, and systemic failure.

The centre isn’t holding.

She returns to the very same spot in her garden to ride it out.

The flowers turn to greet her. Bees orbit her body. And the sun catches the edges of her hair.

Dignity and beauty.

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Reaction to the Great Backslide

June 29, 2022

The Great Backslide Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

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