Jill Weber santa claus drawing

Interview: Talking Naughty and Nice with Jill Weber


JJ Gregory caught up with Jill Weber to talk about handmade Christmas cards, naughty art supplies, and cocktails! What better way to feel naughty AND nice this holiday season.

Q: Let’s talk about the theme of naughty or nice… You’ve been especially nice to share a bunch of your personal holiday cards with us for this feature. They are such a treat and impart so much of your unique humor.

A: My cards are usually about all my family: Frank and me and our animals — so you know what’s going on in our life here because it would show up in the cards. I do have a funny story for you. Finding myself in a bit of a time crunch one year, I repurposed my illustration of Rabbis from my book “Even Higher” and I made them into Santas and they had little speech bubbles that said ho ho ho. I’m going to guess that’s probably on the naughty side.

jill weber with her dog

jill weber sketch work

Q: I am so pleased we managed to get a little naughty in this interview. In your klass, you talk about a girl from college named Marcia Gilooly who made drawings with perfect technique — but lacked feeling. Let’s talk about the sin of striving for perfection. Would that be naughty?

A: I don’t remember anybody’s name but I’ll always remember hers. Yeah, she made quite an impression on me. She just repeated on paper what she saw and she had perfect technique. I was sure she had made the best drawing in class but the teacher said my drawing was more successful because it showed my struggle. I was very appreciative of that. I have repeated this sentiment numerous times as I teach because people are so concerned with things that don’t matter. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Q: I think you can’t repeat that enough. We all deal with it in various ways.

A: Obama has a great quote about perfection. I wrote it on my board. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good”.

jill weber santa claus sketch

Q: I love that. I think no matter one’s political views that idea is worth sharing. Wikipedia attributes that sentiment originally to Voltaire and he was a smart guy. I want to unpack one more concept from your klass – you talk about “building the box” which is essentially making manageable pieces out of creative endeavors – be it making a book or planning a garden. The message is that limits are good, which I really like; limiting yourself as a positive. Can you elaborate on that here?

A: The problem with art is it’s got an infinite amount of problems and an infinite amount of solutions. So you have to pick your time when you’re going to stop. I’m a Problem Solver right? So I start with the problem. You pick what your project is going to be and you break it up into sections from the outside in.

Q: Let’s wrap this up by talking about everyone’s favorite topic: art supplies. In your klass you talk about your love for your Rotring pen and your water based gouache but comment it’s a problem that they are both not water resistant.

A: Somebody from the Sketchbook Skool community told me I can order a waterproof ink cartridge on JetPens that I could insert in my Rotring and now I use fantastic acrylic gouache too. Those are both super nice things.

Q: You said you like to listen to audio books while working. Any you recommend?

A: Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Unsheltered” is terrific.

Q: You say your best work happens in the evening. Are morning people naughty or nice?

A: I grew up in a noisy house and so it was quiet at night and I kind of got the fever to work late. Now that I’m older, I rarely work past eleven because if I do I get a second wind and then can’t go to sleep at all. My husband Frank works at night, so I have this totally uninterrupted time and it feels like I have all the time in the world. The daytime feels so distracted. There’s always just something else that has to be done over the course of the day. So I still love nights- love love love nights. Being a morning person is never going to happen for me. That said, if I could have one superpower I’d add a few more days to every week as I needed them.

peace on earth sketch

happy merry 2013 sketch

Q: It would be very naughty if you added more days to my week, I like my weekends!

A: No, no, it would just be mine only mine. I wouldn’t affect anybody else. That would be a terrible thing to do. I do work through the weekend so it would be just awesome. Last week, I was trying to work at night but Frank was home. I’ve got a bunch of revisions that I don’t want to deal with. Anyway, he brought me a cocktail.

Q: He is a beautiful man.

A: A beautiful man who then made me a beautiful dinner, opened a beautiful bottle of wine, and by the time we finished dinner and talking about when we were young and our old boyfriends and girlfriends and laughing for hours – I was too drunk to work. All I could do is go lie down. That was naughty.

happy holidays sketch

Q: Will you ask Frank to send us a recipe for that cocktail?

A: Yes. I’m having trouble working when he’s home. He’s a very big distraction and I think that’s probably a good thing to say after being with somebody for 46 years — that I’m still distracted!

Q: That’s the nicest ending to this piece I ever could have dreamed up!

Jill Weber doubles as a children’s book illustrator and designer. Her favorite projects are the ones where she wears both hats. She has illustrated numerous books for children and adults, including seasonal favorites The Story of Hanukkah, a NYTimes holiday pick and New York Times bestseller The Christmas Tree, which was written by Julie Salamon. Jill lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Frank. When she is not in her studio, she can be found in her garden.

Jill’s work can be found at FrajilFarms

Frank Weber is a world-renowned mixologist. See more of his creations at: www.frajilspirits.com

Make a drawing of your favorite holiday beverage and post to #sbszinekontest on instagram – we will pick two artists to win a Jill Weber book in Jan!

Bourbon, Orange, and Ginger Smash (Frank’s creation)

Serving Size: 1


(null) For the ginger syrup
1/2 cup sliced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 cup Turbinado sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a small sauce pan, combine all ingredients except the vanilla. Bring up to a boil and then down to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the syrup reduces to about one cup. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let steep until cool, then strain through a fine mesh sieve. Refrigerate for up to a week.


1 1/2 ounces Michter’s bourbon
1 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce ginger syrup
3 ounces fresh orange juice

Pour ingredients into a shaker glass filled with ice. Shake and pour into an ice filled hi-ball glass.

6 mins

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