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Musings and sketches to inspire. Changing the world one pixel at a time.

The Theme for 2015: creative exploration, collaboration and manifestation

Jess Kirkman

It seems to me that the most common (and cliché) thing to do after New Years Eve is to make some resolutions and then start the path towards breaking them. Usually by February, most resolutions have gone out the window.

This year, I’m not making any resolutions, I’m making a theme. My theme for 2015 is: Creative Exploration, Collaboration and Manifestation. Now at first, when I decided on this, it sort of felt like a copout; I work in a creative field, I do a lot of creative work on the side, and I generally focus on creative topics regularly. But as much as these things play a big part (if not the biggest) in my life, they may actually be hindering me from exploring my creativity and pushing my regular boundaries to see what else I’m capable of. One of the biggest lessons I learned over the last few years is that there is an infinite amount to learn. I might be specialized in certain areas of art and design, but I rarely go out and explore other creative mediums. 

The ‘exploring’ part of my theme means that I will ask questions, try something Ive never done before, take classes, find inspiration in new places and generally reach out beyond my bubble that I’ve been comfortable in.

The ‘collaboration’ part is the most important to me. I am surrounded by extremely talented friends and coworkers who are all willing and excited to create. As we know, it’s usually easier to go the gym with a buddy, so why not use this same idea for creativity? The buddy system works, and I have a lot of buddies who I can creatively play with.

The ‘manifestation’ part of this means that I will not only explore and experiment, but I will create tangible pieces and share them with the world. I want to get out there and paint, garden, read, photograph, draw, design, craft, write and work with my hands.

The other thing I must always try to remember is that there is a difference between work and play, even when you are a 'creative'. This theme is all about playing creatively, not working creatively. So if anyone has an idea or project they want to collaborate on, please reach out to me. This is the year!

The Winter Solstice / New Moon overlap

Jess Kirkman


Last night was a rare occurrence where the Winter Solstice and the New Moon fell on the same night. The word ‘solstice’ comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still) and during this event we experience the longest night of the year. The New Moon is a symbolic point of attention and is a great time to set new intentions and commit to self-growth.

Before this digital age of cell phones, computers, tablets, internet and all the other distractions that bombard us daily, we were less obsessed with instant gratification and instead, more attuned to the natural cycles of the planet.

I find it interesting that these two events overlapped this year. One reminds us to ‘stand still’ like the sun and the other reminds us to 'reflect on new beginnings' like the moon. I invite you to look at 2014 and not only reflect on the changes you’ve made, but see what you’re ready to let go of. Then take a look at 2015 and see what you’re ready to let in.

Here is my exercise for 2014 / 2015:
This was my year of letting go. I went into the 2014 with the intention of letting go of my need to control everything and that is exactly what the Universe gave me.

Things were stolen:
The first night of our trip to Costa Rica, we had our bags stolen out of our room.
My bike got stolen from the subway station near my apartment -  and after that, my new bike seat got ripped off.

Things were lost:
I dropped my wallet somewhere between my apartment and the subway.

Things broke:
After a vacation, we came home to a dead fridge and an apartment smell to match.
 We were hosting my 30th birthday party and Passover seder that same week.

Things went wrong:
After getting a new fridge, the waterline burst and flooded our apartment and the downstairs neighbor’s
 sending us into a whirlwind of insurance company drama.

That’s to name a few, and make a point: I wanted to ‘let go’, and I was provided with multiple opportunities to practice. And you know what? Everything turned out OK. Actually, everything turned out better than OK. It turned out exactly like it was supposed to. I learned (and am still learning) that I can step back and allow things to ‘just be’. And of course, it made me realize that my attention should be on love, community and self-growth, instead of control and material possessions. 

2014 was not just about letting go, but about dreaming big. I lived my first year in our newly owned apartment, I started Manifest Events, I’ve been creating lots of art and design for people, I won the Pixels of Fury design competition, I got promoted to Design Director at work, I started writing, and the list goes on. Im ready to leap into 2015 with more motivation, inspiration and creativity then ever before. Bring it on!

2015: I am ready to connect more with the community I have crafted around me, and expand it even more. This year, I met so many people that have pushed me to new spiritual heights, inspired me creatively, taught me so much about myself and the universe and supported me in my biggest dreams. I am so incredibly fortunate and honored to know people as beautiful as the ones that surround me, and I welcome more and more of like-minded people into my circle. 

Hopefully by doing so, the people that support love will one day be the majority over the people that encourage hate. There is a saying ‘We can only dream’,
but we can do way more than dream. We can share, speak, act, support…
We craft the world we want to live in, and I want to live in a saturated, love-infused world. 

"So shall it be, and even better." Namaste.

My Weekly Gratitude: Honoring our Ancestors and Family Traditions

Jess Kirkman

My great-grandmother with some of her children, including my bubby (second from the left). Menorah placed for conceptual purposes only :)

My great-grandmother with some of her children, including my bubby (second from the left). Menorah placed for conceptual purposes only :)

This Hanukkah, I've been pretty good at lighting the candles and making latkes. But the other night, after saying the Hanukkah prayers, I got a little overwhelmed with sadness or this feeling of homesickness. The holiday season used to feel more familial. Latkes and candles are great, but the traditions feel hollow without remembering why Im doing them in the first place and figuring out how to share them with others.

These traditions, by nature, have been carried down from generation to generation and found their way into my ‘now’.  That’s a powerful thing to think about and led me to my weekly gratitude: Ancestors. Family stories. Traditions.

Hanukkah was a good place for me to start thinking about this because it’s not the most significant or religious holiday to the Jewish people. I can’t say Im a very ‘religious’ person, but my Jewish heritage and the traditions and holidays that come with it are extremely important to me. To know that I am participating in the same actions that my own lineage has been doing for thousands of years is a pretty amazing concept. We exist today because of the strength and tenacity of those who came before us. I take this as a great responsibility. I get to decide which of these traditions to hold onto. I get to decide what information to pass on and share with future generations. I get to decide the future path of my family tree. I am a living legacy of the people that came before me. I am what is left of their lives. Instead of blindly following traditions, I can look at the actions I’m taking and remember the history involved and be proud that I am now a part of that history.

My Uncle Eli is a true inspiration for encouraging my family to live this legacy. He is currently putting together not only a massive, organized family tree, but he is tracing back and getting the full life stories of each direct descendant. He has gone to Europe to visit the hometowns of our ancestors and has put together detailed accounts of the people that have allowed us to exist in the first place. They are no longer just names in a family tree, they are people who had stories of their own, and traditions to share.

On the topic of sharing, I want to share an idea with you that my uncle so brilliantly conceived. He suggested that our whole family, every branch of the family, light a candle together on the same night to honor our ancestors. I think this is such a beautiful expression of family pride. Eli remembered hearing from a great aunt of mine, “We are all fingers on the same hand.” and as the saying goes "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." Im interpreting the saying somewhat, but we should try and remember to honor the fact that we didn't appear out of nowhere, and that family history is important. 

So, over this holiday season, I will not only light the Hanukkah candles to follow tradition, I will light them to honor the people that have shared these traditions year to year. I invite you to do the same. Light a candle for the people that came before you. Carry on traditions with a purpose. Teach your children or those that look up to you to live the legacy. And at the end of the day, ask yourself, ‘How will I be remembered?’, ‘What will live on from my life's story?' Do your lineage a favor and be a good ancestor for future generations. Take on that responsibility and bask in it. The future starts right this second, and you get to decide what to do with it.

Happy Hanukkah and Namaste.

Weekly Gratitude: Openness

Jess Kirkman


When contemplating on my gratitude for the week, the first word that came to mind was: Openness. Openness in the sense of “the free expression of one’s true feelings and opinions” (as defined by Merriam-Webster).

Over the last few years I have cultivated a community of people that allow me to express my authentic self. I truly feel that the best way to learn how to be more authentic is to be around more authentic people. It’s hard to put on a ‘front’ when you are surrounded by genuine energy (and why would you wan’t to?)

Not only does the term openness mean that I can be myself around others, but it also means ‘not being closed off to new ideas or theories’. I think this part is just as important as the first. Now, I know its easy to talk about your ‘true self’ when you have found your true self.. but what if you aren’t sure what that means yet? The topic of ‘who am i?’ is for another time, but I do want to say that by being authentic and rippling out that genuine energy, more and more people around you will start to realize their true potential as well. We have to lead by example and craft the world we want to live in. Why not start with the people around you?

Talk about your spiritual ideas and thoughts. Express your theories about the unknown. Find communities that accept and encourage your journey. When you see a spark of interest in someone, follow up with them. By answering questions about your journey, those people will eventually be able to answer questions about their journey to others. And it goes on and on and on. Eventually, by being your authentic self, you will see and feel the ripple effect first hand. And trust me, it’s so rewarding.

This is my attempt to spread a ripple; to start a conversation for just one person. I hope that by expressing and sharing parts of my journey, it will encourage those around me to do the same. And that is how we go step by step into a higher collective consciousness. And for that, I am grateful. 



A fear of death and How a book kick-started my spiritual journey

Jess Kirkman

I have to start this story by giving you a little background into my headspace a few years back. I was extremely afraid of death to the point where I was having panic attacks just thinking about the idea of it. When my grandmother passed, it made the issue even worse. I wont go into details, but it was really bad. My fear of death would manifest itself as heavy anxiety in my everyday life and it hung there. I was always rushing or panicking about being late because I didn't want to waste time. I was running through life to make sure I got in as much as possible before I died. And in thinking that way, all I did was focus on my death, not my life.

There are a few key moments that stand out to me when I look back on my spiritual journey to track it's path. The first big one is when I met my husband (but I'll go into that another time), and the second one comes from this book: Many Lives, Many Masters. The most beautiful thing about a spiritual journey, especially the beginning of one, is that often times you don't know you're even ON one. This is the book that changed all that for me.

To give you an overview, this book is comprised of actual transcripts from sessions between Dr. Brian Weiss and a patient of his from back in the late 70's - early 80's. He used hypnosis on her and she ended up recalling past-life events. Even more interesting was when she began recalling the 'space between lives' where she was given advice and insight into some of Dr. Weiss's extremely personal matters. 

At first, after reading this book, I became obsessed with the idea of my past lives. I wanted to know who I was, what I did, how I died, etc. It was all I could focus on. I did have some experiences regarding my dreams and past lives, but that story can wait as well. So in my obsession, I talked about this book to anyone who would listen. A friend of mine gave the book to her husband and he ended up going to a regression therapist to help initiate a past life experience through hypnosis. His experience with the therapist was fascinating, and so this led me to think about the book even more. I do have to say that in thinking about the book, it took away some of the space from my 'death thoughts' (which is good). 

I was sitting alone on my couch one day, just reflecting on why I was so obsessed with the idea of past lives. Did i really care about who I was? Was that the fascinating part to me? The idea of reincarnation was something I believed in growing up, but somewhat blindly. I just liked the whole idea of it. But this book made that idea a little more tangible. It applied to a real person, and that made it easier to relate the concept to myself. And although the thought of having past lives seemed to calm me somewhat, it wasn't what pushed me into my spiritual awakening. As I was sitting there on the couch thinking about this book, in one single hit me. It wasn't the idea of past lives that I was really focusing on, it was the 'in between' that stuck in my brain. The idea that there is something else out there to believe in. Something beyond lives, and the living, and the known. The idea of there being something out there that I believed in, yet couldn't explain, opened my eyes for the 'first time', instantly relieved me of my fear of death, and introduced me to the true meaning of faith

And that, my friends, is how it all started for me. I saw something I hadn't seen before, and felt something I hadn't felt, and it was beautiful, warm, bright and good. Why would I choose to be scared, afraid and anxious if I had this whole new direction to try. I had no choice other than to follow this path to where it would lead me and where it led me (and is still leading me), is down a road where I am aware and in control of my thoughts, fears, actions and reactions. I look at my issues them head on and decide to tackle them instead of suppress them. And in doing this, I've changed my life and only look back to see how far I've come.

And one thing 'Many Lives, Many Masters' truly taught me is that if you don't tackle your problems now, you will tackle them later. And I don't know who I will be in a future life, but I know I have the capacity to improve my souls journey NOW. And that's all I really know. 

So to wrap it up, I did know my fear of death was pretty much gone. The anxiety attacks went away and were replaced with questions about spirituality. I focused on my own awareness and the power it gave me instead of death. And trust me, it's a whole lot more enjoyable. And don't get me wrong, I learned quickly that the only way to keep the good feelings, and to keep the faith and awareness is to practice every single day and do the work. So take back control, read interesting books, meet new circles of people that understand and push you further, and create a healthy environment for your soul to thrive. 


Who Says I Can't Be Free? - Changing your life one decision at a time.

Jess Kirkman


Ok, so I know it might be cheesy to have gotten this quote from a John Mayer song, but I have to say it feels so perfect. The only person that decides who you are and how you act is you. I know, like I said in my first post, that sometimes it feels so HARD to change. To think differently. To act differently. But as hard as it feels to break our mindless habits, it can be just as simple and easy. Actually, its ALWAYS simple and easy. We just have to DO. Take action. Be aware. Take a chance on being someone you weren't one second ago. Its ok. You'll still be there afterwards. And you'll be one mindful reaction closer to that person you want to be.

I find that the easiest way to practice this comes in stressful situations. So next time someone says or does something that stirs a reaction in you, wait long enough to take a deep breath and give yourself time to decide how to react, instead of letting your reactions decide for you. Take responsibility for each and every word that comes out of your mouth. Work at being proud of what you say in the present moment instead of regretting what you did later on. It all happens in that second. That breath. It gives you a chance to be powerful and CHOOSE. Choose patience. Choose understanding. Choose love. Try it and let me know how it goes! 

Til next time.. Namaste.



Jess Kirkman


Today I decided I'm gonna try my hand at 'blogging'. Im not a writer and will never pretend to be one, but I do have thoughts and insights and ideas to share. It might be in the form of a drawing, quote or video, but I want to start putting more GOOD out in the world. 

Bringing spiritual philosophies into your daily life can be tough. At least where I live, in the NYC area, spirituality can even be a #TREND. You're considered "Crunchy" if you want to help our Mother Earth thrive or "New Age" if you want to help our society love through new ideas and movements. I want to avoid falling into a stereotype, but what I end up doing is...nothing. 

Now, I'm not saying I don't do ANYTHING, but I don't do enough. And the only way to do something, is to start somewhere. So right here is my somewhere. I hope to inspire, help, teach or if anything, just effect someone in a way where the world is filled with a little more love. So as much as it can be hard to change your life, it can also be extremely easy. You just have to start somewhere.




Jess Kirkman


I needed some Saturday inspiration and it led me to Frida. Here's a little sketch I did to pay tribute.


Pixels of Fury Competition!

Jess Kirkman

I am so proud to announce that last night I won the Shutterstock 2014 Pixels of Fury Competition in NYC!!
Take a look at the slideshow below (and the video below that) for all the visual highlights:

I was chosen among 5 other designers to compete in a LIVE design event in front of 500+ people with comedian Chuck Nice as the host (love him). Our challenge for the first round was to design a beer label. We had 20 minutes from start to finish to design against our competitors. It was extremely challenging and exciting all at the same time! Below is what I designed for the first round to get me to the finals:


I decided to try in a whole theme into my design, and the first thing that came to my punny mind was SHAKESbeer. Book covers were a huge influence for me with this design. And I think some of my copy was pretty clever too ;) #humblebrag

The night was super fun, I got to represent the female design community and it didn't hurt to win, either. I am feeling so grateful for the opportunity I had last night and hope to have more exciting moments like this in my career! (and check out the full story from Shutterstock here to see some of my competitors work)

#tbt Drawing for a cure

Jess Kirkman

Last year I was a captain on a team to fight breast cancer. We raised over $10K collectively! One of the ways I raised money was to do a drawing for anyone that donated over $30. People would request ANYTHING and I would draw it! Below is a request from Jamie Mandelbaum which was "Yoko Ono as a jellyfish is sad because John Lennon is a bluebird".

Favorite Quotes - Best in Show

Jess Kirkman

The design challenge was to take a favorite quote from a movie and create a type-driven poster design. This quote from 'Best in Show' is one of my favorites. Actually, they ALL are my favorites! I love that movie.

Stamping, Stamping, Stamping

Jess Kirkman

Today was filled with ink! Testing out this new stamp for Nina and Pete's upcoming invitations! The stamp is included with their wedding suite. And it will be perfect for them to use on their Thank-You cards!


Jess Kirkman

The design challenge was to create a liquor brand out of your spirit animal and design around it. I have always been drawn to elephants, so I started there. I mixed a little clean typography with a hand-drawn elephant icon. Simple and clean.