M is for...



My new monthly theme! I am looking forward to making time for some relaxation this month. I’m headed on a cross-country road trip to visit family for a few weeks, which should be lots of fun! I’m going to use this time off to breathe, refocus, and get back to creating for fun.



This page is from a fun alphabet book that I illustrated called E is for Economics by Veronica Goodman, and it’s available now. Check it out HERE.


After a busy April, I’m excited to see what this next month will bring!


I always enjoy celebrating all the wonderful mother figures in my life on Mother’s Day.



Last month’s personal project (book designs) got put on hold due to time issues, and I will return to it—but not quite yet. Since I’ll be on the road a bit in May, I’ve chosen to do something more portable. I recently invested in an iPad and have been exploring various art apps. I absolutely LOVE apps like iOrnament and Amaziograph for creating mandala art, so I want to experiment more with those. I might work in some traditionally drawn mandalas as well. Follow along on my Instagram (@nicolejonessturk, #sturkartchallenge2018).

Welcome to May, everyone!

Sincerely, Nicole

Blessed with Work

Holy moly, this month was hard.


I think every client I have hit me with jobs at the same time. Work piled up, and I was so overwhelmed that it literally brought me to tears. I worked early mornings and late nights to get things done, and it wore me down. Then there were my daughters. My oldest is living up to the “terrible twos” with countless tantrums and mischief throughout the day. My younger one-year-old has been especially prone to whining lately, probably from lack of attention due to my heavy workload. So imagine long hours of stressful work + lots of screaming. Not fun.

Yet despite all this, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am. The past few months have been some of the most productive and fruitful in my short career as a freelancer. With my husband in school, I’ve taken on a major role in our financial support, and it gives me great pride knowing that I can take care my family by not only working hard, but also using the creative skills and talents that I’ve built over the years.

I know there are a lot of hard-working mamas out there who struggle with tedious jobs, or not making enough money, or being away from their kids, or putting dreams on hold in favor of family, so it’s not lost on me that what I have is special.

While I cannot wait for my girls to grow out of their tantrum stages, I love that I get to spend all day with them. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I know that work will level out soon (and, hello, vacation...), and there are bound to be slow times again. With so many people working jobs they hate out of necessity, what a luxury it is that I’ve built a respectable career that I love, that I am good at, that I can do at home, and that provides for me and my family needs, and then some. I am truly blessed.

Anyway, those were just some thoughts I’ve been having. It helps to keep this in the forefront of my mind during stressful times. I’m not always great at remembering to do that (did I mention the tears?), but as with anything, it’s up and down. The key is to try to stay up more than down. Everyone’s circumstances are different. We all have our struggles, but I would encourage you to pause and take stock of the blessings in your life because we all have those, too.

Sincerely, Nicole

Change of Plans

Oh, life. My plate is just FULL at the moment. It's a blessing, but also very stressful, so I've decided to relieve some of the pressure by putting my blog writing and book project off to the side for the time being. I will revisit it later, I promise. I really want to continue to make time for personal work, but sometimes, it's just tough. Sigh. Good thing I have a vacation coming up, woo wee!

Till later,

I Make Books, Too

Probably 75% of the things I talk about on this blog and post on social media are centered around my art and illustration. The other 25% is crafts, kids, and food (haha). In actuality, a good chunk of my work is in book publishing. I did typesetting and design full-time for many years, and still do it today as a freelancer. So this month, I decided to highlight some of my book work, as well as introduce some of the basics of book design.


My project will tie in with this. I have always wanted to mock up some sample covers and pages to add to my portfolio that show what I like to do, and that are perhaps a little more fun and creative than the typical work I usually do (i.e., nonfiction, business, self-help, and text books).  The best way to follow along is via my Instagram (@nicolejonessturk, #sturkartchallenge2018).

Can't wait to get started!

Sincerely, Nicole

Fan Art Project Summary

As you may know, for my personal project last month, I chose to create fan art. I'd define fan art as any work that is derived from another piece of art that you did not create yourself, such as a book, film, or song. Usually, it is done for fun, as a show of admiration for the source material. Sometimes it can get a bad rap due to issues of plagiarism and unoriginality—but I love it.

For my project, I ended up doing a lot of animation-inspired pieces. I guess that's what happens when you have two young ones. I was pleased with how my pieces progressed as the month went by. I felt my later ones were more developed and had more of my own style. I even started a mini project making Disney princess–inspired surface patterns (which I am still working on). I also collaborated with my sister, Dani Jones, on one of them (The Greatest Showman).

Here's a look at all the fan art I created in March:

So why create fan art? I believe it has some real benefits when done right. In my opinion, here are some tips for creating great fan art:

  • First off, do not claim ownership of the original work upon which your art is based, and give credit when necessary. ALWAYS respect other artists.
  • Use it as an exercise to hone your skills, such as drawing, painting, composition, typography, portraiture, etc.
  • Go beyond copying. Bring your own style and flair into your piece. Make it your own.
  • And always, have FUN.

That last point, for me, is the best part of fan art. Even though I love what I do and occasionally even get paid to draw things, work is still work sometimes. Doing things for your own enjoyment is important to keep you going. No artist works in a bubble—at least, I certainly don't. I am always finding inspiration in what others are doing. Let great art get YOU excited to create more great art!

Sincerely, Nicole



All Business, But Having Fun