The Evolution of (my) Art

It’s been four years since I started the Inspirational Card Swap – an ATC Swap style project where we alter 52 playing cards and swap around the world. The thing is, every year, new people join the swap. Which I love. But not for the reason that you think.

I love when new people join this swap because I get to prove to a whole new batch of people that they are completely capable of making 52 pieces of art. That’s fun for me.

I also get to introduce 52 new people to my views on inclusion and possibility and impact. I like spreading that message.

I also get to debunk the theory that we are all just born good artists…or not. Sure, some people just are, but the majority of us? We’re learning as we go. And that means, that I can talk people out of the listening to the nasty (and untrue) voice inside them that says that they make “bad” art and it shouldn’t be shared.

Which leads me to my favorite reason that I love running this swap, and love new people in it, which is that I know for a fact that what YOU think is “bad” art that doesn’t “deserve” to be made, much less given out to other people, is art that someone will REALLY LOVE. Really appreciate. And maybe, really need.

How do I know this?

Because of the photos below.

I cordially invite you to check out the very first cards I ever made.

I’ve told people this many times: that it doesn’t matter what your cards look like, they are going to have an impact on someone who receives them.

Today I realized I could just prove it.

So, take a look. My very first art cards.



I think what you’ll note is that these cards were very basic. And a bit messy. And a bit…well, not that impressive. But what you don’t know is, this was the best I could do at that time. Adding sequins and stickers? That was a big deal! That meant going to Michaels and using money, as a stay at home mom, on art supplies!

And yet, these were the cards that I put up on a blog post on a whim, to see if anyone wanted to match, and swap…which provoked 52 strangers to join in making and swapping. These were the cards that I then sent out to fifty two other people. The very basic, not too impressive, newbie artist cards that sparked the swap that has now lasted years, and embraced hundreds of artists (of ALL levels) from literally around the world.

It’s not the cards I make today that had this impact. It’s these, first, very amateur creations that had the magic in them.


And this is what I want to say to you today, wherever you are in your artistic and creative journey, and especially if you’re curious, tempted, but hearing those same voices of “But I’m not…” or “My art is just..” in your mind…

Your beginnings will someday be your most prized possessions.

If you don’t begin, you’ll never improve. You’ll never be able to progress, and someday, find your very own style. You’ll never have the joy of experimenting at your creative table, seeing happy accidents emerge. All of that and much more put together art is waiting to flow out of you, as you learn, progress and experiment, but it’s not ever going to show up, if you don’t put your amateur, slightly disappointing, vulnerable, completely magic art out in the world.


my cards, 2012


my cards, 2012FullSizeRender

my cards, 2013


my cards, 2014


my cards, 2015

FullSizeRender (1) FullSizeRendermy cards, 2016


  1. OK, so I LOVE your first cards! And your second and third and whatever number we are up to now! I think too often we get caught up in the “I gotta be perfect” and we lose track of everything else. I love that you put yourself out there, warts and all and look at the tribe you now have. Of which I am a PROUD member! My only regret is it took me four years to find you!

  2. Jessica,
    I love your cards and I love the way you encourage others to forget about comparing their art to anyone else. That’s why I love the cards so much because they represent the artist who made them. Some of the simplest cards are my favs. But each card is unique and different and I personally love imperfections! So happy to be involved in this years swap!?

  3. The question mark at the end of my last comment is not suppose to be there! Sorry, it should be !!!!!????????

  4. Ok, I’m not crazy, the hearts I am leaving show up as question marks! Eeek! :)

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