Masterclass with Jill Smith of Jill Smith Design
Masterclass, where I feature the best of the best each month. People who have expert knowledge and skills in their chosen field. And I am lucky enough to call them my friends or in this case my family. Here I sat down with my sweet sister-in-law, Jill Smith of Jill Smith Design. I adore this woman beyond words. And as my daughter says…. She is one cool Aunt.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Organically I find my inspiration from what’s around me. I can’t help but be inspired and influenced by my surroundings and who I spend time with, what I see. My kiddos inspire me with their creativity and ability to create without worrying about the outcome. They just enjoy… whether they are drawing with sidewalk chalk or painting on each other! We hang their artworks in our home, it inspires me when I look at their work.
Other times I go searching for inspiration. Sometimes I just need to get up and walk around my neighborhood, and sometimes I go to clever little boutique shops in town to walk around. And there is also Pinterest, which is such quick way to get a million visual inspirations at once.
What creative things do you love doing with your kids?
My kiddos and I are really into watercoloring right now. Last weekend, we spent a good hour painting leaves that had fallen in our driveway. I loved that we were outside and that the leaves blew off and down the street mixing with all the other leaves. My 7-year old really liked the idea of someone finding one in their yard and wondering how it was rainbow colored or polka dotted. I’ve also cut out letters and we paint those. It’s helped my 4-year old to learn his letters and put words together.
Both of my kiddos love Keri Smith’s book, “Wreck This Book”. We draw letters and mail them to people. We build train tracks and puzzles and dance around the house like lunatics. I also try to go along with my kids when they have their own creative ideas. They really wanted to “sell” trail mix and water to our neighbors for free, which actually ended up to be really fun and we met a few new people while we were out there. They made a sign and did their own set up.
Do you feel like you always have had the gift of creativity? Do you remember how old you were when you realized it?
I do feel like I’ve always been drawn to art. My family is very artistic and it is something that we did together often. My dad is a retired landscape architect and when my brother and I were kids, Dad’s drafting table was smack dab in the middle of our dining room. It had a couch next to it. Many nights I would crawl up on that couch in my pajamas and watch him work and draw alongside him. I have also always enjoyed making things with my hands—from mud pies outside to crazy wire sculptures that my sweet parents would display in our home. It wasn’t until college that I had the realization that I could make things with my hands and get paid for it as my job.
When your not pushing your pencil…what is your favorite thing to do?
Travel! I love going to a new place with my family and acting like we live there. It’s such a fun family adventure. When I can’t travel, I love to find random adventures here in Houston. Lately we’ve been doing a lot of biking on the trails as a family. Spring is wonderful here before it gets crazy hot in the summer. We’ve been spending our time outside running, playing and biking all day. Late in the afternoon, we come back home starving and invite friends and neighbors to drop by and grill in our backyard and enjoy a few beers until the sun goes down.
I know you work from home.. how do you balance work and family?
Balance? Ha…what’s that? Balance is something that I will always be working on. I feel if I am on top of my deadlines, then the laundry is in a huuuuuge pile and we are eating take out. On the other hand, if I am on top of cooking healthy meals and our house is organized, then something with work is being neglected. I always feel like I could be doing more or doing better. I think that is the double-edged sword of being a working mom that actually works from home. So I’ve started to be easier on myself about this. I think it is wonderful and healthy for us as grown-ups to play. I don’t want to be “busy” all of the time. I try to focus and work when it’s time to work and to completely play when it’s not. That way I can stay present. I want to pick up a basketball and practice my own dribbling skills when my kids dribble, instead of picking up a broom and sweeping the porch. There’s also no use in feeling guilty about falling asleep with the kiddos at 7:30 pm and staying put all night. I choose to cherish those moments instead of feeling like I wasn’t productive.
When do you find yourself to be most creative?
I’m most creative when everyone else in the house is sleeping. That is when, as a mom, I can let my mind fully to go into work mode because I know my kiddos (and my husband, too) have had a happy and full day. When Pace and Brae’s bellies are full, their teeth are brushed and they are snuggled up in the bedroom next to my studio, I can focus on other things. My brain is free to create for hours and not be drawn in a million different directions. I love to work a few hours and pop in to check on their tiny sleeping little selves.
Oh, and after a few glasses of wine I’m much more adventurous when it comes to lettering or painting.
What trends are big right now?
With summer coming, I’m seeing a lot of playful patterns and hand-lettered, loose design. Watercolor is still popular, and is being happily paired with beautiful floral illustrations. Colors are light and fun at the moment. Rose and rose gold are trending and metallics in general are still a popular way to add a bit of pop to a room or invitation. The same goes for using neutrals paired with a pop of vivid color in just the right amount. Classic and stylish dots and patterns are always trending in my book. And I love the way a variety of patterns can be used together in fashion and in design. Varying the size of the pattern is key so they compliment each other without competing.