Alison Garwood Jones

Margot and Richie

November 18, 2022

Drawing of Margot and Richie Tenenbaum by Alison Garwood-Jones

What comes after the prodigy phase?

Margot and Richie posing in front of the infamous zebra wallpaper.


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November 3, 2022

Lois played the zany-kooky card because that’s what women in showbiz (who looked like her) did in the early 1960s.

Drawing of a zany woman by Alison Garwood-Jones

Men called her a “character,” but never a “creature.” Only femme fatales were creatures.

These were the two choices for women who put themselves out there.

The lack of range felt inside both camps was numbed by alcohol and pills.

First I draw, then I find the story based on the style, energy and emotions that rise up from the page. If someone handed me a brief that said: “Okay, Alison, draw a mid-century woman suffering under society’s archetypes,” my spontaneity and freedom would turtle. My drawing style would tighten up. It has. Because I know this about myself, I’ve learned to diversify my income sources.

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Practice Makes Better

November 2, 2022

Alison Garwood-Jones self-portraits


I almost never capture someone’s likeness on the first try.

I only nail a portrait after a lot of calisthenics (unrelated mark making).

Drawing, like any art form, involves a ton of unseen labour and practice.Sheryl Portrait Heads


#BrushPenArt #SharpieArt #Caricatures

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Growing Up Atwood

October 27, 2022

Margaret Atwood by Alison Garwood-Jones

Growing up Atwood:

“[In my family,] squeamishness and whining were not encouraged; girls were not expected to do more of it than boys; crying was not viewed with indulgence. Rational debate was smiled upon, as was curiosity about almost everything. But deep down I was not a rationalist. I was the youngest and weepiest of the family, frequently sent for naps due to fatigue, and thought to be sensitive and even a bit sickly; perhaps this was because I showed an undue interest in sissy stuff like knitting and dresses and stuffed bunnies. My own view of myself was that I was small and innocuous, a marshmallow compared to the others. I was a poor shot with a 22, for instance, and not very good with an ax. It took me a long time to figure out that the youngest in a family of dragons is still a dragon from the point of view of those who find dragons alarming.”

Margaret – still soft-hearted and breathing fire. Her poems and essays are road maps.

Excerpt from Negotiating With The Dead (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

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The Audacity of Hope – Remember That?

October 21, 2022

Psychic Reader Sandwich BoardThe audacity of hope: remember that?

Right now hope is in a tense standoff with societal collapse.

Our conflicts are daunting, our problems are real.

Seeing an opening, grifters and mobsters have grabbed the reins.

That elevated sense of the world as it should be has been hijacked by cynics.

You’re an optimist. So, how do you regain your footing when cynics keep picking at your foolish dreams?

How do you avoid being outsmarted when you don’t think like a criminal?

You start by refusing to be intimidated.

You do the work: You ask the hard questions, you look for the patterns, you connect the dots, and you endure the blowback with lots of tea and salt baths.

Then you share your findings far and wide, endure more blowback, and maybe (just maybe) you stem the triumph of evil.

Begin by linking arms with other women and men of integrity.

Feed each other meals and ideas.

Pool your modest resources.

Babysit each other’s kids.

But, above all, keep trying.

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Welcome To My New Shop

October 12, 2022

I decided to toss the pillows and rebrand my Shopify store as a Print Shop.

It felt more in line with how I define myself right now: as an illustrator who writes.

For those of you who purchased from my old store, thank you. — xo

I hope your pets and house guests are continuing to snuggle up to my pillows.

Dogs on My Pillow Designs

It turns I’m not keen on the environmental impact of running an online shop stuffed with tote bags, pillows, plastic phone covers, and a range of other tchotchkes available on demand these days.

Scaling a business like that would mean producing more stuff that the earth just doesn’t need.

Sharing my sketches and ideas with you on recycled paper products (with environmental shipping standards) feels lighter, less greedy.

To have no environmental impact would mean producing and sharing nothing. Alas, I’m not prepared to be that abstinent.

I’ll continue to evolve how I show up here.


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Her Last Photo

September 12, 2022

Queen Elizabeth II: 1926-2022

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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