Mail's Here! Clever illustrator behind Jill + Jack Paper shares her insights on monetizing her passion
Jillian Jackson uses her hand-drawn illustrations to help herself and her clients communicate in a fun and whimsical way. Jill + Jack Paper started as a side project, mainly creating work for close friends and family. Eventually it evolved into a full-time job illustrating everything from logos and marketing materials for corporate clients to beer labels, tattoos, wall art, and cards. Jillian’s excited to dive a little deeper into the stationery market (and help the bees!) by launching a line of "plantable" wildflower seed paper cards this year. She’s also our newest Paper Hearts Pen Pal – welcome, Jillian!
What’s your first memory of getting mail?
I remember receiving birthday cards from my grandparents. I grew up in Cape Breton but my parents were originally from Ontario and Saskatchewan. I loved getting mail addressed just to me. To this day, my one living grandmother never misses mailing my, and now my kids’, birthday cards. She miraculously times them to arrive in our mailbox on the exact date of our birthdays almost every single time. I guess she’s had a few years’ experience in sending mail!
How’d you wind up getting started? Did you ever think you’d be an entrepreneur?
I never thought I’d be an entrepreneur, or an illustrator for that matter, but sometimes life works in mysterious ways. A childcare snag eight years ago forced me to leave my job ‘temporarily’, and it wasn’t long before I began making art prints - both as gifts for friends as a means of saving money as well as a creative outlet for me while at home with the kids. From there it evolved into requests to do friends’ wedding invitations. Before long, word had spread and friends of friends were paying me for custom illustration work. That’s when Jill+Jack Paper was born. Now the thought of going back to a corporate 9-5 job is the furthest thing from what I want. I love being creative, I love running a business, and I love being home when my kids walk through the door after school, which I can happily do now since I’m my own boss.
What made you want to work with stationery in a digital age?
There is something nostalgic about a card being sent by post or delivered by hand - something that could never be replicated through digital communication. Finding the perfect card for a loved one is a ritual that began long before the age of emojis and memes and one that I personally will never replace with a digital alternative. Playing a small role in connecting humans through cards chosen, given, and received brings me joy.
What’s one thing you wish you could have told your former self, when she first started the business?
I wish I could tell her that this isn’t just a hobby, this is a legit business and you need to start treating it as such. I had a lot of catching up to do from a financial standpoint when I started to properly run Jill+Jack Paper as a business. I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration if I’d taken myself and my business seriously from the start.
What is the weirdest thing about you?
This is almost too weird for me to write down, but when someone is speaking to me, I imagine a typewriter in my head and where the key to each letter of the words being spoken would be on the typewriter. I type in my head while others speak. It used to drive me crazy but now I don’t even notice I’m doing it.
Want to view Jillian's work online?
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Joyfully written by our friend Meaghan Steeves of Choice Words Editing