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before I was a blogger …

    I used to design custom stationery. It’s really how Jones Design Company began – making wedding invitations, baby announcements, holiday cards. It was my little business that I did from home when my babies were babies. Much of the work was seasonal, which suited our family well. I kinda fell into it and learned along the way. I’ve said it a hundred times before, but I’m a self-taught girl who faked my way through the whole thing.

    While creating stationery is no longer my main passion or the direction my business has gone, it has been such a big part of my creative story so far. I have boxes and boxes of samples, proofs, final drafts sitting on the shelves in my office and I thought it would be fun to pull them down, open them up and share a few of my favorites with you. Many of them are old; like from parties or weddings or babies born nearly 10 years ago. Others are projects I’ve worked on more recently for friends or cousins I just can’t say no to. And then there’s a whole stack of cards done for my kids’ birthdays or events we’ve hosted over the years. It’s always fun to look through and see how my style has changed, what trends have passed, and remember these sweet moments.

    Have a look at a few favorite designs:

    // W E D D I N G S //



    // B A B Y //



    // H O L I D A Y //



    // P A R T Y //



    All this week I’ll be sharing graphic design related posts (a freebie, a tutorial, favorite tips & tricks in Illustrator) as a lead up to my brand new class: Simplified Graphic Design (registration will open next monday).


    More details will come, but I’ll just say it is for beginners who want to learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator from a non-techie teacher (that’s me).  I think you’ll love the class and I’m excited about this fun week of posts!

    P.S. if you have any graphic design-y questions or tutorials you’d like to see, please post in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them this week.

    84 thoughts on “before I was a blogger …”

    1. hi emily~
      love, love, love your site your sense of style EVERYTHING!! i would really like to take your class but am wondering how i begin? what do i need to take the class (software, etc?). thanks you and look forward to hearing back from you!

    2. Hell Emily!

      I love, love your site. I have been following you for a while now. I am super excited about your class coming up. I have adobe creative cloud and I have attempted to learn Illustrator but it can be intimidating. I can get around Photoshop but barely. Can you tell me when the actual class starts? I don’t want to to miss it. The hubs and I are relocating to Oklahoma City next week.

      xx, Melissa

      1. The class will open on monday morning and you’ll have instant access. It will all take place online with no expiration to your access, so feel free to sign up and then pick it back up once you settle in your new home.

    3. Hi!

      I am loving your tutorials and am dieing to take your graphic design class that you mentioned above! I am in desperate need of learning Illustrator to create PDF files from my artwork. Can you tell me when this class will start, and how much it will be for the class?

      I don’t want to miss it, it can’t come soon enough!

    4. I’m assuming this printer works well with a Mac computer? The current Lexmark one I have has constant compatibility issues. Looking for one that works well with our Mac laptops.

    5. Hi Emily. It sounds like this will be a similar format to the blog class. Is that correct or are there a limited number of spaces? The blig class is AMAZING by the way! I wish I would have signed up a long time ago. I’m so excited to take this class as well!! Thank you to you and your husband!

      1. The format is similar, with videos walking you through everything, but this time you get access to the whole class right away. That way you can work through it as quickly or slowly as needed. More info coming friday!

    6. I would love to know how to make a scalloped edge, draw a curly-Q, and add textures! Also, where do you find fonts?

    7. Hi Emily! I’m so so excited about all the posts coming and of your new class. Is it going to be an on-line class?? I live overseas. I’m very very interested, love to hear from you.
      Congratulations for your great work and talent.

    8. Do you ever design logo’s and assist others with blog design? If not, is your class something that I could use to do this myself?

      1. I have done some custom work in the past but find that I just can’t take on extra projects at this point. The purpose of the class is to help you learn how to create logos and artwork on your own so I sure hope it can do this for you!

    9. Emily Thank you so much for yet offering another wonderful opportunity to learn from you!! You are extremely talented and beautiful too. the pics of you and your daughter were just gorgeous!!
      I tried learning Illustrator through a local class. It was only 2 eight hour days and moved so fast. I was completely lost. I just want to learn the basics and love the idea of not hitting on Layers too much. They totally confuse me. Looking forward to the class.

    10. I love your designs!
      I’ve played a little with designing editable items such as place cards and address labels, but I would love to know how you design such items in Illustrator and then make them editable in Adobe Acrobat.

    11. Hi Emily,

      So excited about the upcoming class! I am a half professionally-taught/half self-taught designer in my professional and personal life, and I’m always looking to learn something new. I always struggle with licenses, especially when it comes to using other designers’ fonts. I am looking to start my own small business and don’t want to get into any trouble. Will you touch on any licensing? Thanks!

      1. Very good question and something to be aware of. I don’t go into design theory as much as just going right into how-to’s, but I do mention making sure you look at the license agreement before purchasing and using fonts and clipart. Most of the time the license agreements are clear as to what you can and can not use the items for, so just read through and you’re good.

    12. Hi, I am wanting to design my own stamps – nothing complicated or detailed. I have found gaps in the market and am so tired of looking for them with manufacturers – I have an online business… I either need a graphic designer or I need to learn how to do whats required myself… will this course help me move in that direction, if not arrive there with a big thud lol, Cheers Michelle.

    13. oooh this is so exciting!

      I wanted to learn how to use a design package properly (I am teaching myself)… I did set up my website and all my social media bits and bobs myself but it all takes forever to do even with a simple package and I want to speed it all up to get on with the fun stuff of making and creating :)

      Can’t wait….

      I love your website and I just know I am going to love the tutorials.

      Yay! Thank you :)


    14. Hi Emily!

      This is really exciting. I would be great if you could show how to clip/cut away the background of images. So, for example, if I need a picture of a pen, and I have one, but it’s sitting on a desk, how do I cut the background out so that i just have the picture of the pen with a clear or white background. Does this make sense?

      I can’t wait for the posts this week! Thank you!

    15. Really looking forward to this class! I love to dabble in graphic design, so this sounds perfect to learn a few more tricks and ideas. Would love to have the guts to start designing on the side. Where do you get all your illustrations/art shapes? Do you create them yourself or where do you purchase them from? Thanks.

    16. Hi Emily, so so excited about this. I am in Australia, will it be feasible for me to do the tutorial from here? Its $50 per month here ;-( Do you need to be able to draw to use Illustrator? I have so many questions lol.

    17. Hi Emily~

      I love your blog! You are so creative. I hope I will be able to take your class & get the trial illustrator program. I have a graphic design degree but it was 20+ years ago & only had
      1 computer class then. I have so much to learn but love design!! Hopefully will get to learn from you! Thanks for all you do!

    18. I am hoping for patterned backgrounds, clip art and how you did the text on Audrey’s last bday invite! Looked like watercolor and LOVED it! So excited for this!

    19. I hope you’ll do a pre-seminar that focuses on design theory, elements, color selection, etc in the near future for us newbies.

    20. Emily, I am very much looking forward to all the little surprises instore for us this week on the blog. I’m excited to enroll in your brand new class!! Always wanted to learn how to use the program. I enjoy the art & beauty of graphic design. Love your work, website and just your sheer raw honesty! Thank you for being so open.

    21. I have Elements 11 I work on an iMac and wanted something to help with designs I wanted to create. I would love a very basic tutorial and how it can be saved in a Pages or Keynote presentation.

    22. I have Illustrator and the thing I wish I knew how to do with it is to create a “transparent” background for superimposing the image of one of my kids or a favorite object onto a totally different background. Will something like this be covered in the class? And how much do you charge for classes like this?

      I love your blog, your style, etc. And I share you often when friends are talking about ideas for things. I tell them they’ll be inspired by the great designs you blog about.

      Also I’ve really enjoyed your posts about how you’re navigating the various adventures of life as a Christian woman. Thanks!

      1. Illustrator has a few different functions than photoshop so you may need to remove the background from your image before saving and then pull it into Illustrator. Layering images with transparent backgrounds over other backgrounds is not a challenge at all and we’ll definitely be doing a bit of that.

    23. Emily, this is so timely. I am an old PSP artist and created exclusively with that program using a Wacom drawing tablet. Just this week I received my new computer and can’t even install the old programs on the new system. I feel like my creative wings have been clipped. I’ve been thinking of installing adobe illustrator but am afraid I won’t how the first thing about how to use it. Now, maybe there’s hope for me. What version do you recommend I buy? Hopefully I’ll have it by next Monday. Do you think I could download it?

    24. Count me in for the Illustrator class! I am a beginning letterpress printer and just bought my first tabletop press. I’ll be using Illustrator to design polymer plates for printing.
      one thing I would love to learn is working with layers. I need to use this technique for multi color printing, so it’s going to be really important and I haven’t had much success trying to figure it out on my own.
      Thanks Emily!

      1. What an exciting step for your letterpress company! Nothing prettier than letterpress.

        Here’s my honest answer about how I use Illustrator: I rarely, if ever, use layers. I find them to be a bit frustrating and so I’ve never taken the time to really work with them. So, the class will not address working in layers.

        When you are creating your artwork, can you copy a certain area and then paste it into a new layer? That seems like it would not be too difficult.

    25. I am so happy you posted this. I am a self taught designer myself. I am dabbling in the industry by creating my own wedding invitations and slowly progressing into making some for others. I go through ebbs and flows of feeling confident to feeling completely defeated and like a fraud. I wish so bad I would have stayed with this passion when I went to school instead of listening to the doubters that said art will never take you anywhere. I am excited to learn more about how you craft your invites, stationary, and everything else! I am more of a Photoshop nerd right now, and have been trying to cross the bridge to illustrator, but get upset more than inspired!

      I want to be taken seriously as a designer, but sometimes I feel like I am judged because I didn’t’ go to school for it! I have avoided putting up a website because I am too nervous that my designs are perfected enough.

      I am excited to learn more from as these weeks go on! :) Thank you!!!

    26. Hi Emily,
      I wanted to know if you make a card that is 4 and a quarter by 5 and a half, how do you print anything in that card on the computer? Thanks, I love your blog!

      1. Most of the time the cards I do are either 5×7 or 3.5 x 5, but occasionally I’ll do a 4.25 x 5.5 card. I format them four per sheet with crop marks at the center horizontally and vertically. The one drawback of doing this size is that you can not print all the way to the margins (I’ve never met a printer that can do a ‘full bleed’ without a small margin of extra paper. I’m sure it’s possible, but not when printing from home).

    27. Hi Emily!

      Thanks for the beautiful blog posts. I am very interested too. I have a t shirt line, wear Love®, (I sent you some tee’s last year) and am interested in doing more with my blog etc.

      I will be watching for more details!


    28. Hi Emily, should I purchase the illustrator now before the class is set to start and is it something I can do at home in the evening when the kids are asleep and I can focus? ( I know you had mentioned the $19.99 package, I’ll have to look into it to see but is that an endless monthly bill or just a year or two?! I was just browsing the web for classes and felt anxious there was nothing available at the level of learning I needed and your class sounds just perfect. Looking forward to learning from someone with gorgeous taste!
      Kindly, Melanie

      1. You can definitely sign up now for illustrator and maybe click around. However, when I first started, I was so confused when I first opened up the program that I gave up. The very first video in the class walks you through all the basics of how to open a new document, what tools do what, etc. so maybe wait for that? Plus, you want to maximize your 30 day free trial, so if you plan to sign up for the class on monday, sign up for illustrator that day too and then you’ll have a full 30 days to actually use the program for free. I’m not sure what the terms are from Adobe – I think I read it is just a one year at a time commitment? If you are a teacher or student you get a nice discount, too.

    29. What a fun idea to do an Illustrator class!!! I was wondering if you do or have thought about doing like a “mentorship program” at all? I worked as a designer for 5 years before we had our first baby and since then I stayed home and kind of started a design/photography business which turned into a photography business which has totally fizzled out because of my feelings of being a fraud and I am looking at getting more into designing again because I just really feel like that’s my niche but I am just not sure how to go about getting myself going WITHOUT feeling like a fraud. Do you have any suggestions?

      1. I totally get this. Maybe it’s how we all feel from time to time? Is there ever an artist, a teacher, a human who does not at one point doubt their ability?

        My husband is the true brains behind my business and I think he would make a spectacular consultant to help other small businesses get off the ground. We’ve toyed with doing it together but the details have not worked themselves out yet. Maybe on a case by case basis? Perhaps it is an option to come …

    30. OMG! Wish I were in a position to take this class with you! No time right now to spare! Sounds so wonderful, though! I took it with a hi-tech teacher years ago and ended up never using the program after graduation! Would love to relearn it! Will you ever do this class again?!

      PS love your work. So soft and pretty. Vintage-y. Always appealing!

    31. Emily, I am SO excited about this as well! I love your blog, well just everything that you do..ha ha. I am a stay at home Mom of three, work part time (doing real estate) and I have recently started my own stationery business. I do have illustrator and love my printer, however I am excited to hear about where you purchase your graphics and also possibly your paper source. Have a great day!

      1. If I counted how many times I write ‘love’ and ‘little’ here on this blog, I would hang my head in word-overuse-shame. I get it!

        Feeling like a fraud is a terrible place to be, but coming to accept the fact that I can only do/be so much is so freeing.

        As for cost, I’ll divulge all the details on friday but I will say it was SUPER important to me that the cost was kept low to make the class accessible. You can take similar classes elsewhere for about $50 more than what I’m offering it at :)

        1. Well, we only have one income with 7 children, and we have not planned this, so if it is too costly, I hope there is a payment program. I told my husband about it yesterday and he said okay. I have taken Nicole Classes and Skillshare classes and I think a few others that I really love. They have professionals and keep the prices very reasonable. For Christmas I took my gift cards and applied them all to online classes.

          Anyway, I love your work and talent and would consider it an honor to sit under you and learn :-)

    32. I love that blog post you linked to. It describes me exactly, I want the business (I’m a photographer) but then when I am overly busy then I tend to complain about having the time do it all!

      I love the idea of the class! Is really like to learn that program. You will probably tell us later but I was just curious of what it will cost.

      I love reading your blog, thank you for sharing!

    33. I’m looking so forward to this !! Thank you ! Btw, what is the heaviest paper weight your Canon printer will print on ? This was an obstacle for me when I was dabbling with my stationery / greeting card designs .

    34. I’m excited for this! I know you said you will need the program for the class, but is there any over lap with Photoshop? Thanks!

      1. I am sure there are many overlaps. The method for doing the same task may look very different between programs so you can always learn how I do it in illustrator and then play around in photoshop to get the same effect.

      1. I do have a favorite printer – not because I have tried out all of them, but because the one we researched and landed on has been great. I’m sure there are others out there that also give great print quality. I print on a canon ink jet photo printer ( It accepts thick, heavy paper which was a big criteria for me. My art prints are done professionally on a laser printer, but for all other little projects and for the first 10 years of my business I printed everything myself on an ink jet. Hope this helps!

    35. Yay!!!! I’m so excited for this class. I loved The Blog Class and can’t wait to learn some things about graphic design from you. I’m hoping it will help the whole “fake it, till ya make it” a little less frustrating!!

        1. Yes, you will need illustrator for the class. Adobe has a new-ish program where you can do a monthly subscription ($19.99 per month with a 30 day free trial) rather than having to purchase the program outright (which was way TOO expensive for most recreational designers). The benefit of the membership is that you always get the updates rather than needing to upgrade your software each time a new version comes out.

    36. Emily, I love this. My story is so similar! After I graduated with a degree in graphic design, I started doing custom invitations for my friends and family and over time it gradually turned into my own design business, Elle & Company. Thank you for your helpful posts and your beautiful designs. I’m really looking forward to your posts this week, and I love keeping up with your blog!

    37. Love it! Do you make your own backgrounds? Would love tutorials or class on that! I love the paper you use too, so much texture, etc…did you print yourself and round corners yourself or who prints for you- so beautiful! Thanks for sharing! You have such great talent!

      1. I’ll definitely talk about backgrounds – some I make, many I purchase.

        As for the cards themselves, I always like a thick paper and texture adds a richness so a lot of these are printed on good paper. Almost all of the samples shown were printed on my home printer and I round the corners using a scrapbook corner rounder. Nothing fancy!

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