My Uncle David

{This is a personal post.}

I remember my Uncle David at family gatherings of the past. I remember him sitting on the curb with the kids while we watched the Fourth of July parade, his long arms dangling between his knees. I remember his mustached grin and ringing laughter in a room full of escalating voices. His expressiveness and his genuine joy are the things about him that stand out the most in my memory.

When I was pregnant with my second child, an unexpected addition, my mother told me about the year her brother, David was born. Up until him, she had been the baby, the youngest in a line of five who had come before her. Her jealousy of the new family member became so frustrating to her mother, our Nanny, that, one day, Nanny handed David and bottle to my mother. She said “This is your baby now. Feed him.” Once my mother saw David as her baby, her attitude changed. She became his protector and caregiver. Unfortunately, as they aged, that didn’t stop them from beating up on each other along with the rest of the group, totaling seven siblings.

The seven. We all try to get together as a group at least three times per year. The Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas. As time has passed, our family has moved outward from its starting point in northern New Jersey, now four generations reaching six states, the furthest of which was California for a while. Uncle David settled in Florida. Our grandparents sold the family home and retired to North Carolina. It’s rare to be able to coordinate an event to which all of the seven siblings can attend. Distance, time, work, money. There is always something keeping at least one away.

Even as a child, I could perceive the importance of the original siblings coming together a few times a year to laugh and joke and tell the same stories we have all heard several times over. We eat and play games and mingle and catch up. The last time they were all together was for Christmas was several years ago.

This year will be difficult. I find myself in a strange position, while organizing the Christmas gathering. I am responsible for curating the merriment of a group that will forever and too soon be incomplete. To know, in a room of smiling faces, we are all painfully aware that one of the seven will be missing as we attempt to find joy in the season with those who live on.

I know we can find so much about which to laugh; we have unimaginable fun together. Honoring the memory of David will be bitter, but knowing, at Christmastime, how much we all share in having loved him will be sweet.

threadless artist shop

Hello and welcome to the latest of my bimonthly updates about my business! In the past month, I have been feverishly working to add inventory to five separate outlets. There is, of course, Etsy, as there has always been. I have also been stockpiling reclaimed wood signs for my local markets, Rustique, Lost & Found Vintiques and my very first craft fair at Alvin’s Frontier Days.

jslettering.com jslettering.com jslettering.com

And, most recently, my Artist Shop through Threadless has officially opened! Threadless is one of my favorite t-shirt sites. They boast funny, unique t-shirts, designed and submitted by regular, awesome artists. In a break from their traditional print-by-vote paradigm, they’ll print whatever I upload into my own shop. Hooray! Right now, it’s just t-shirts, but there is talk of tote bags, prints and phone cases coming soon! So, I get to do the fun part (the designing) and they handle the fulfillment, shipping and customer service. Win-frikin-win.

jslettering.com | feminist killjoy jslettering.com | long feminist rants jslettering.com | made in vagina jslettering.com | pete seeger jslettering.com | soft kitty

 

Amanda Palmer and the Art of Asking

I was recently introduced to musician Amanda Palmer’s TED talk, which is titled the same as her novel “The Art of Asking”. In the nigh fourteen minute segment, she describes her first out-of-college job as a living statue on the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts and other places. This is the jumping off point for her belief in the free sharing of art, the connections we build as artists and art-lovers and humans and the trust in people to be willing to help when you have the courage to ask. That’s about as far as I’m going to paraphrase her story. Spare the fifteen minutes and watch or listen to the talk; I promise, you’ll get it too. You might even get a little teary-eyed, and I think that’s great.

How she spoke specifically to me:

As a teenager, I found most of my self-expression through art. Photography, ceramics, writing, painting. When I enrolled in college (because college is what you do), I listed my major as Fine Arts, emphasis in Photography. Wouldn’t it just be something if I could be an artist for a living? If I could take something I love to do and provides me with enormous amounts of pride and pleasure and relaxation and release, wouldn’t it be the dream to create as a career? Wasn’t a college education the way to get that done?

However, two years in, I was married, itching for a baby and realizing that the death of my absolute favorite thing, darkroom photography, was imminent. In protest of the digital usurper to my primary source of creation, I turned my back on art and switched my major entirely.

Fast forward seven years, and I have two kids and a part-time career that relates to neither of my baccalaureate concentrations. I started a side business doing calligraphy to hearken back to how I felt about art as a teenager. It was extremely important to me. But anything that takes time away from life (kids, work, husband, household) has to make money. Charging for my artwork has always felt disingenuous. It has always felt like something I have to do, not something I want to do. I want to earn an income, sure. Praise and gratitude and pride in my work don’t put clothes on my kids’ backs or food in their mouths. I have base prices for my products based largely upon market trends, even leaning towards the cheaper side. I have to push aside my mountainous self-esteem issues to charge even that; I never feel like my work is worth what I ask for it. But I have to make money doing it if I want to do it at all.

I recently turned down a job working for a nonprofit art program because it would not have paid enough to justify the time spent away from my kids and the money it would have cost for childcare. I asked my husband, “What if the woman who runs it is amazing, and the office space is fun and wonderful and the work is fulfilling and I feel great about doing it? Isn’t that worth something?” He told me, “Yes, of course, it’s worth something. But it can’t be worth everything.” And he was right. Maybe this job would have been the puzzle piece that magically completes the picture of my life. Maybe it would have filled something inside of me left by the void of abandoning both a career in art or one in public service. Who knows? The money wasn’t enough for me to even take a change to try.

The point is, I believe her. I agree with Amanda Palmer. I would love to feel the trust she feels that people will help if you just ask. I would love to create something just for the pure enjoyment of creation, for the intrinsic value, for the joy it brings to my heart and somehow know that it’s also earning me the means to give my kids the lives they deserve. I’m going to work on that.

Design Submission for bloom Daily Planners

I don’t know if you know this about me, but I love planners. For every project, I have a binder or notebook. In college, I used my Franklin Covey binder to organize classes, work, trips, events, etc. For my daily life now, I have custom-designed a planner using the Arc discbound system from Staples. Because I’m just a little crazy. If you search the hashtag #prettyplanner or #planneraddict on Instagram, you will see gorgeous examples of people who also share an affinity for the throwbacks of a Filofax. I’m not that insane. If I’m feeling really nutty, I’ll use a different color of pen.

bloom planner submission :: jslettering.comAnyway, I had the opportunity to design a cover for a company called bloom Daily Planners, and my submission was one of six to be chosen for the final round! If I win, it means my design will grace the front-most page of a tool used by (apparently, so many) others for the rest of 2016. I also get some cash, which, can’t be beat AND. AND planners for life. Yes, that’s right. If my design is liked, commented, shared the mostest, I will get a new planner from bloom each year for the rest of my days. I don’t think I can describe how amazeballs that would be.

If you are so inclined to help a sister out, head over to their Facebook and Instagram pages and vote for your old pal, Jamie of JS Lettering and @jamieisntcrazy. If you’re not familiar with my style (which I’m being told is recognizable (WIN RIGHT THERE!!), my design is number 3.

bloom contest submission :: jslettering.comThanks once more for all of your support!!

instagram/facebook giveaway

giveaway :: jslettering.com One of my favorite things to do is re-imagine old crap into something new and beautiful. Seriously, every time I hit the thrift store or see a dilapidated piece of weather-worn furniture on the curb, my mind begins racing. I rarely know what exactly a thing will become when I take it home, but, for the right price (free curb finds, yes please!) I will gleefully take it home and marinate on the future life’s purpose of what was once a discarded piece of trash. My mother-in-law hates shopping with me because she is the complete opposite. If it doesn’t serve the purpose as is, she won’t go for it– even color! I am constantly encouraging her to paint everything. That’s probably why her house looks far more put-together than mine…

Anyway! What am I babbling about? Right. I found this sad, rotten dresser on trash day a couple of months ago. I couldn’t believe my good fortune that someone hadn’t already snatched this baby off the curb! What do you mean, not everyone dumpster dives for pleasure? Oh… Well, I felt like a winner that day. The drawers were missing or nonfunctional. It was cobwebby, damp and caked with mud. It had clearly been sitting unused and unnoticed for a while. Despite the obvious surface ugliness though, it had good structure, real wood and darling fountain detailing.

before coffee bar :: jslettering.com

The happy ending is that that single trash-pick yielded a dozen reclaimed wood handlettered signs and a sweet coffee bar that I don’t want to sell, but I am going to because if I keep everything I make, I won’t have the money to make more stuff. Plus, I have no more room in my flea-market of a house for any more stuff. Who am I kidding? I will always have room for more stuff.

reclaimed wood signs :: jslettering.comThe whole point of this little tale is to say that I have two signs left from this project, and I am giving them away, one on Facebook and one on Instagram. The rules are simple– and you can find them here and here. Winners will be drawn on Sunday!

giveaway :: jslettering.com

threadless submission

Hey, friends!

Soon, I will be opening up my Artist Shop at threadless.com. I am looking forward to being able to list my designs for sale on screen-printed tee shirts and totes as well as mugs and phone cases!

Before that opens up though, designers can submit artwork to be printed at the parent threadless online store. Please head to this link to score my design. The higher score I get in 10 days, the more likely I am to be printed. THANKS!

jslettering | threadless submission

 

happy new year

jslettering.com | happy new year

I jump on the “New Year, New Me” bandwagon a lot. Pretty much every year. I’m not too proud to admit that it rarely goes as planned. Towards the later half of 2015, I attempted to restart certain things, to create good habits, to resolve to be better without waiting for a so-called new chapter. It still didn’t work out. Blog. Exercise. Eat better. Practice. Save money. Keep on top of housework. Figure out what I want to be when I grow the eff up. Well, I know I still want to make habits of all of those things, but I’m closing in on my self-inflicted deadline to finally grasp that last one.

So far, I’ve completed my Bachelor’s degree, created a couple of monsters, established a career accidentally as a pharmacy technician, kept up a blog, opened up a small business, been married to my best friend for nearly a decade and bought a house. It’s been a decent ride.

In January, I will be 29. Unlike, Phoebe Buffay, I do not want to go one mile on a hippity-hop before I turn thirty, but nonetheless, this particular new year holds a different set of challenges: the things I do want to accomplish by the time I turn thirty. So, here goes.

My 30 Before 30 List:

  1. Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
  2. Learn to enjoy exercise, make it an actual part of my routine.
  3. Eat much healthier. Like, at least a vegetable a day.
  4. Do another 5k.
  5. Become more flexible again.
  6. Learn conversational Spanish.
  7. Complete a 365 challenge (seriously. EVERY DAY FOR ONE YEAR)
  8. Visit San Diego and meet Thayer.
  9. Finish landscaping the outside of the house.
  10. Get better at lettering.
  11. Do sign calligraphy for a BIG event.
  12. Get shop published in a zine.
  13. Organize another V-Day fundrasier
  14. Try out the Houston Unitarian Meeting
  15. Volunteer (get on the board somewhere)
  16. Take kids to Disney World for the first time! (this is already in the works!!)
  17. Complete all 52 weeks of the Money Saving Challenge
  18. Take a vacation with just Matt for the first time since our honeymoon in 2007
  19. Call my friends once every couple of weeks
  20. Become proficient in furniture-building
  21. Learn HTML and code

To be continued…

merry everything, y’all!!

copyright jamie sebby 2015 | jslettering.com

Hi, everyone! We’re in the last few days of the year, and, much like everyone else, I plan to make some personal and business improvements in 2016.

In addition to the cliche work out more, manage time better, save up money, blah blah blah adulting, I have some work-related things going on. First of all, I am converting all my Etsy listings to digital downloads. From now on, when you order artwork from me through Etsy, it will become available for you to save onto your computer and have printed through an online printing service like Shutterfly, Tiny Prints or an in person photo service like Costco or Walgreens. Wherever possible, select the heaviest paper in a matte finish. The print shouldn’t cost more than $3-4 for an 8×10, or less if you have a store coupon!

The reasons behind this shift are threefold.

  1. My husband doesn’t have to go to the printer’s for me. He works in the same building, so I ask him to pick up orders for me once or twice per week. He doesn’t like doing it. Boo-frickin-hoo.
  2. I hate the post office. Shipping is far more expensive than it should be (although even paying more doesn’t guarantee it won’t get lost), and often, I forget to go until the very last minute.
  3. It’s cheaper, faster and easier for everyone involved.

Soon after the new year, I’ll be rolling out a new venture with Threadless Artists Shops. You will be able to order my ready made designs as prints, t-shirts, totes, phone cases, et cetera, but Threadless handles order fulfillment. I am ALWAYS available to collaborate with you on custom orders. There will just be one more way to get a fun design you love on a product you will use! Yay!

Anyway, that’s enough for now. Hope your season has been merry as feck, and that you are looking forward to a new year as much as I am!

<3

designs for wildlife

Hey, everyone!

My sister works for a wildlife rescue in Virginia, and she asked me to doodle some new designs for merchandise to sell. They are working on building a new state of the art clinic and education facility to replace the 200-year-old cottage they’ve been working out of for ten years. I was happy to help. We came up with some fun designs incorporating both animals and puns.

teespring wild and free blue new teespring fox say new teespring awesome possum

If you’re interested in helping a good cause (100% of the proceeds go directly to the center for their fundraising efforts), visit www.cafepress.com/blueridgewildlifecenter to order one the designs on a shirt, mug, tote, hat or t-shirt for your dog!

Thanks, friends.