Join us for an intimate even of story and type play in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Limited spots available.

The traditional design event model has become troublesome to me in more recent years. In hindsight, it always was...but now I have the self awareness to realize it. Typically, this model is set up for two kinds of people: the expert and the student. The expert is there to give, to impart, to teach. And the student is there to listen and receive. There is value in this, no doubt, in the right places; however, this structure leaves us with two main problems.

Read more



It is categorically easier for people to latch onto a person that lives in a “happy nice” world than it is for someone who is lit up by less accessible issues.

I came across a Twitter thread that asked for people to name their top 5 most “valuable and important” women in design. A friend had nominated me for this category. Now, MOST people would look at this, feel warm and fuzzy, say thanks, maybe nominate a few women that came to mind for them, be happy that women in design were being raised up, and go eat a sandwich.

Read more



I met him on a Monday night, indulging in some major mezcal escapism. He was a bit older, maybe late thirties, early fourties...

Watch the video from my storytelling workshop showcase.

Read more



Sharing diverse perspectives is a privilege, not a chore.

Coming up in my early career in New York City meant design industry was infused into my bloodstream. Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club, AIGA, various co-working spaces, conferences, art schools, etc. were available to me as I “found myself” (or tried to) as a young designer (letterer/illustrator). Part of this was a blessing.

Read more



When I was home over Thanksgiving, I knew I would be facing difficult parents & family members in terms of politics.

Mom voted for Hill, but doesn’t consider herself “very political” and doesn’t exactly understand deeper concepts of societal constructs, etc. so she’s able to love and live with my Stepdad who voted for Trump and has a history of imposing his point of view on others and not taking others’ feelings seriously (you know the type).

Read more



My real wish for you this holiday is to Be Well. Not to be confused with the sentiment of the infamous email sign off: I hope you’re well!

Every year since I graduated college, I’ve sent out self-designed holiday cards. They were never typical as “Happy Holidays!” never seemed to accurately express what I wanted to say or be enough. But this year, with the state this world is in, it definitely didn’t seem to be enough. So I sat down & wrote The Holiday Card I Really Want To Send.

Read more



I’m floating and not sure where I am. But that’s fucking dumb, because I’ve been in the same spot for months.

My boss calls me into his office. I pop up from my desk, turn just around the corner, and flatten my crinkled sweater from sitting all morning before I step in. He’s sitting in his chair, eyes glued to the computer screen, but it feels like he could launch into outer space at any moment.

Read more



How is LA treating you?

In the last month, I have been in my new home city of Los Angeles a total of 7 days. First, I was on a three-week stint on the East Coast celebrating the marriage of one of my best friends, with a break to visit my old stomping ground of New York City, and some time around Philly and New Jersey with family. Then, not long after my return, I ran up to San Francisco to spend time with more close friends I hadn’t seen in a long while. For most, if not all, of the people I have been reconnecting with, this is the first time we had seen each other face-to-face since I left New York; and the first question that leaves each person’s lips, verbatim, is the same across the board: How is LA treating you?

Read more



Sharing personal parts of yourself will never be a) easy or b) accepted by everyone.

A few years ago, I fell in love for the first time. I was living in Brooklyn, NY and he lived in Austin, TX. As is the case with many long distance, star-crossed loves, it was an emotional roller coaster of a grey area relationship that inevitably ended in the most bloody crash and burn disaster of the heart I had ever experienced.

Read more





Join us for an intimate even of story and type play in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Limited spots available.

The traditional design event model has become troublesome to me in more recent years. In hindsight, it always was...but now I have the self awareness to realize it. Typically, this model is set up for two kinds of people: the expert and the student. The expert is there to give, to impart, to teach. And the student is there to listen and receive. There is value in this, no doubt, in the right places; however, this structure leaves us with two main problems.

Read more



It is categorically easier for people to latch onto a person that lives in a “happy nice” world than it is for someone who is lit up by less accessible issues.

I came across a Twitter thread that asked for people to name their top 5 most “valuable and important” women in design. A friend had nominated me for this category. Now, MOST people would look at this, feel warm and fuzzy, say thanks, maybe nominate a few women that came to mind for them, be happy that women in design were being raised up, and go eat a sandwich.

Read more



Sharing diverse perspectives is a privilege, not a chore.

Coming up in my early career in New York City meant design industry was infused into my bloodstream. Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club, AIGA, various co-working spaces, conferences, art schools, etc. were available to me as I “found myself” (or tried to) as a young designer (letterer/illustrator). Part of this was a blessing.

Read more



My real wish for you this holiday is to Be Well. Not to be confused with the sentiment of the infamous email sign off: I hope you’re well!

Every year since I graduated college, I’ve sent out self-designed holiday cards. They were never typical as “Happy Holidays!” never seemed to accurately express what I wanted to say or be enough. But this year, with the state this world is in, it definitely didn’t seem to be enough. So I sat down & wrote The Holiday Card I Really Want To Send.

Read more



How is LA treating you?

In the last month, I have been in my new home city of Los Angeles a total of 7 days. First, I was on a three-week stint on the East Coast celebrating the marriage of one of my best friends, with a break to visit my old stomping ground of New York City, and some time around Philly and New Jersey with family. Then, not long after my return, I ran up to San Francisco to spend time with more close friends I hadn’t seen in a long while. For most, if not all, of the people I have been reconnecting with, this is the first time we had seen each other face-to-face since I left New York; and the first question that leaves each person’s lips, verbatim, is the same across the board: How is LA treating you?

Read more



Sharing personal parts of yourself will never be a) easy or b) accepted by everyone.

A few years ago, I fell in love for the first time. I was living in Brooklyn, NY and he lived in Austin, TX. As is the case with many long distance, star-crossed loves, it was an emotional roller coaster of a grey area relationship that inevitably ended in the most bloody crash and burn disaster of the heart I had ever experienced.

Read more




I met him on a Monday night, indulging in some major mezcal escapism. He was a bit older, maybe late thirties, early fourties...

Watch the video from my storytelling workshop showcase.

Read more





Join us for an intimate even of story and type play in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Limited spots available.

The traditional design event model has become troublesome to me in more recent years. In hindsight, it always was...but now I have the self awareness to realize it. Typically, this model is set up for two kinds of people: the expert and the student. The expert is there to give, to impart, to teach. And the student is there to listen and receive. There is value in this, no doubt, in the right places; however, this structure leaves us with two main problems.

Read more






It is categorically easier for people to latch onto a person that lives in a “happy nice” world than it is for someone who is lit up by less accessible issues.

I came across a Twitter thread that asked for people to name their top 5 most “valuable and important” women in design. A friend had nominated me for this category. Now, MOST people would look at this, feel warm and fuzzy, say thanks, maybe nominate a few women that came to mind for them, be happy that women in design were being raised up, and go eat a sandwich.

Read more



I met him on a Monday night, indulging in some major mezcal escapism. He was a bit older, maybe late thirties, early fourties...

Watch the video from my storytelling workshop showcase.

Read more



Sharing diverse perspectives is a privilege, not a chore.

Coming up in my early career in New York City meant design industry was infused into my bloodstream. Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club, AIGA, various co-working spaces, conferences, art schools, etc. were available to me as I “found myself” (or tried to) as a young designer (letterer/illustrator). Part of this was a blessing.

Read more



When I was home over Thanksgiving, I knew I would be facing difficult parents & family members in terms of politics.

Mom voted for Hill, but doesn’t consider herself “very political” and doesn’t exactly understand deeper concepts of societal constructs, etc. so she’s able to love and live with my Stepdad who voted for Trump and has a history of imposing his point of view on others and not taking others’ feelings seriously (you know the type).

Read more



My real wish for you this holiday is to Be Well. Not to be confused with the sentiment of the infamous email sign off: I hope you’re well!

Every year since I graduated college, I’ve sent out self-designed holiday cards. They were never typical as “Happy Holidays!” never seemed to accurately express what I wanted to say or be enough. But this year, with the state this world is in, it definitely didn’t seem to be enough. So I sat down & wrote The Holiday Card I Really Want To Send.

Read more



I’m floating and not sure where I am. But that’s fucking dumb, because I’ve been in the same spot for months.

My boss calls me into his office. I pop up from my desk, turn just around the corner, and flatten my crinkled sweater from sitting all morning before I step in. He’s sitting in his chair, eyes glued to the computer screen, but it feels like he could launch into outer space at any moment.

Read more



Sharing personal parts of yourself will never be a) easy or b) accepted by everyone.

A few years ago, I fell in love for the first time. I was living in Brooklyn, NY and he lived in Austin, TX. As is the case with many long distance, star-crossed loves, it was an emotional roller coaster of a grey area relationship that inevitably ended in the most bloody crash and burn disaster of the heart I had ever experienced.

Read more



Design / Announcements ︎︎ 9 Nov 2017            


The Good Rule: An Evening of Story, Typography and Bad Ideas

Join us for an intimate even of story and type play in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Limited spots available.


The traditional design event model has become troublesome to me in more recent years. In hindsight, it always was...but now I have the self awareness to realize it. Typically, this model is set up for two kinds of people: the expert and the student. The expert is there to give, to impart, to teach. And the student is there to listen and receive. There is value in this, no doubt, in the right places; however, this structure leaves us with two main problems. First, it implies that younger designers have nothing to give and those on a senior level have nothing to learn. And secondly, what do most people come to events for but to connect with their community? With this model existing as the main dynamic used to build design events (conferences, lectures, workshops), it leaves a huge portion of the industry who either don’t neatly fall into these categories or don’t want to without the opportunity to connect with their industry community. So with this in mind, I’ve put together a program that I hope will be the beginning of creating spaces I’m dying to see in our industry. When you’re putting a program together for the design community, I feel like people understand the words “talk” and “workshop”. But I really don’t want to work within those confines. I want to share stories. And I want to encourage others to share theirs. I want to offer what I know, but only if it helps you see what you already know. I don’t want you to make work like me, I want you to make work very much like you. And if I can start to help facilitate that, then I’ll be happy. I want to make spaces to give and receive, to share and share alike, to make and help us bring the most honest creative work out of each other.

Learn more & sign up on the new Good Rule website ︎




Design ︎︎ 28 Apr 2017            


Design Twitter Outcast

I came across a Twitter thread that asked for people to name their top 5 most “valuable and important” women in design.


A friend had nominated me for this category. Now, MOST people would look at this, feel warm and fuzzy, say thanks, maybe nominate a few women that came to mind for them, be happy that women in design were being raised up, and go eat a sandwich. It takes a certain kind of person to look at the rest of the thread, the conversations being had, and the trends of people being nominated, and then to offer critique. That person is me. Did I mention this was all on Twitter?

Twitter, or “Design Twitter”, as it is both lovingly and disdainfully referred to amongst those who are aware of it, is notorious for people being categorized into camps of “Nice” and “Dick.” Typically, the person who takes issue with or critiques another tweet is the “Dick”, or at least runs the risk of being categorized as such. This is due to the fact that many conversations we engage in on the fiery “Design Twitter” happen with people we don’t know, either in real life or online. It also happens because tone is all but completely lost on a text and 140-character based platform. Put passionate topics, sensitivity — and sometimes, over sensitivity, lack of rapport or context, and tone miscommunication into a box: shake it up, and what do you have? A big fucking mess a lot of the time. But within this context, a trend has been established where many people are afraid of voicing their potentially dissenting views for fear that someone will take it personally, and they will be labeled the dreaded “Dick.” So this fear, in turn, silences many points of view from those who aren’t 1000% confident to take that perceived risk…which is many.

And it was me once. Not just on Twitter, but in the design community at large. The trend that I saw in those tweets, and that I tend to see in our industry as a whole, is putting designers up on a pedestal who’s “brand” is being “nice and accessible and makes nice and easily accessible” work. This may or may not mean that they are actually good designers, that they are actually good people, or that they are actually contributing anything that wouldn’t be missed if it disappeared tomorrow (i.e. “valuable and important to design”). This does not mean that people who build their brand on being nice or happy aren’t incredibly valid or amazing or important, either. Nice does not equal bad. But nice does not always equal good. And not nice does not always equal bad. But nice has implicitly been equated with good within many actions and structures that our industry engages in. And this makes me feel bad. And so I have to assume there are others that this resonates with as well. Have I lost you?

It is categorically easier for people to latch onto a person that lives in a “happy nice” world than it is for someone who is lit up by less accessible issues.

My point is that due to the structures of our industry, it is categorically easier for people to latch onto a person or body of work that lives in an accessibly “happy nice” world than it is for someone who is lit up by other, potentially less easily accessible issues, like say—wanting to feel loved and welcome as someone with a profession within the sex world alongside the design world. I’m just SAYING as an EXAMPLE. But it could be anything that isn’t totally happy and bright and easy to talk about. This, therefore, causes many more people with a “nice” brand to be more popular, which in turn, results in that brand being more widely represented in the industry that we all see in the Social Media Influencer, Speaking Engagement, and generally, Promoted Design World.

I’m 30. I spent 8 years in NYC working in agencies and now have been freelancing in LA for 2.5 years on both remote and in-house agency projects. The time in LA has given me a lot of space away from the main heartbeat hub that is NYC design and also time to figure out myself on a personal level. I struggled a lot, rebelling from the “boys’ club” mentality that happens in many industries, but definitely in ours, and definitely in NY. I rebelled against a lot. Eventually, I ended up in a place where my freelance career was established and people were asking me to speak at conferences, on podcasts, and write things. I felt that I was legitimately not a part of the design community that was put in front of me in terms of “mainstream design.” I swore it off. I said, “I’m not a part of this.” But here I was: looking at my invoices that proved I was succeeding in this endeavor, and I had people who were giving me spaces to speak to design audiences. So I had to take a step back and put two and two together to make…not some kind of sense of it…of me.

How was I going to use this feeling, my point of view, in a way that was solution-oriented and productive? Well, I figured that I should use the opportunity to create space for others who felt like me — like an outcast. Like a weirdo. Like someone who was too… I don’t know…too SOMETHING for this industry community.

I had to figure out where it went wrong. And I went back to the beginning of my career to figure out what was missing. What was making me so tangibly resistant? It wasn’t just a lack of seeing women in design in positions of leadership. I saw that. And there were women around me doing their thing. But I felt like, ideologically, I wasn’t represented. Or at least not that I was aware of. I saw a lot of “easy, nice, accessible” designers making “nice” design being put on a pedestal. They were giving talks about how the secret to design was being “nice” when I was struggling horribly to find value in myself as a member of the community. I didn’t feel nice. I felt disturbed. I felt emotional. I felt angry and resentful of my upbringing, my college education, and any number of issues that my therapist could tell you about. I had things to work out, and being nice in terms of my design mission (I obviously aim to be kind to humans on a general note) just did not compute.

I truly, deeply care about the work I put into the world.

So I was triggered when this thread on Twitter felt like a popularity contest that yet again put those people the “nice” designers in the forefront. I don’t feel accessible either in practice or, sometimes, in personality. But I truly, deeply care about the work I put into the world. And when push comes to shove, I no longer feel badly if I’m not accessible to anyone, let alone “Design Twitter.” But, conversely, I don’t feel not a part of it. And I am happy to engage in healthy debate, be in in 140-char or more. Because, here’s the thing, I will be fine. I am fine. I’ve worked really hard to be fine. And I’ll be over in my corner doing and making what fills me up with the people who resonate with it and want to be in that space for as long as my breath works. But what I think about in these moments is the younger me out there who is looking at social media or podcasts or going to conferences and may be feeling similarly to how I did at that time. These newer or less established creatives who see all these designers who’s brand is “nice” and to see how good it must feel to be validated by “Design Twitter” and think that that’s the way to do it. To think that that’s the mold they have to fit into in order to be successful. Or to not even realize that they’re doing things just because they see others doing it but then go home and not feel totally good or whole or accepted by the industry that is presenting itself on Twitter, Podcasts, or Conferences. It’s like when I was younger & I used to try on all these dismally low-cut pants in the Deb shop. They made my curvy hips have severe muffin top and I hated my body for it. It took me many moons to realize the problem wasn’t with my body, it was with the style being promoted at the time. But when you’re young, you don’t know any better. So you end up just feeling bad and thinking there’s something wrong with you.

I engage for that person. I hold space for that person. And I will continue to engage, even if “Design Twitter” deems me something other than “nice,” because if I can help just one other person feel good and right and worthy and perfect in their darker, less accessible thoughts or identities…be it in design or any other world, then it will be worth it. ︎︎

Follow on Medium ︎



Sex+Bodies / Story ︎︎ 11 Feb 2017            

Hot Lust

I met him on a Monday night, indulging in some major mezcal escapism...




From my storytelling workship showcase. ︎︎
Follow on Vimeo ︎


Design ︎︎ 6 Aug 2017            


Not My Industry, Not My Problem

Coming up in my early career in New York City meant design industry was infused into my bloodstream.


Art Directors Club, Type Directors Club, AIGA, various co-working spaces, conferences, art schools, etc. were available to me as I “found myself” (or tried to) as a young designer (letterer/illustrator). Part of this was a blessing. I realized I wanted to draw typography for a living? I go spend my time at Type Directors Club and the Cooper Type program. I have tons around me who share the same interests and elevate my passion. Amazing. So grateful. However, this also meant that the structures that were set up in our industry were all that I knew. And, naturally, I wanted to be accepted and “relevant” so I strived to fit into them (whether consciously or subconsciously).

I spend my days making art and writing, work with rad people who hire me, dancing in my underwear in 8 inch stripper boots.

My time in New York ended when I moved to LA in 2014. I was burnt out and feeling like something really massive was missing inside me. I felt peaceful when I went to LA, so I went there to find it. I also went freelance full time. My early years in LA were full of tumult, both personal and professional, as most growth periods are. Beyond starting a freelance business on the opposite end of the country, I found pole dancing, my therapist, and a spiritual community that’s helped me foster my intuitive practices. As if “Art Director, Designer, Illustrator, Letterer, Pole Dancer, Witch” wasn’t enough of a title line-up, I then created a set of experimental artwork last fall which evolved into my sex- and body-positive art zine, Divine, which has added titles of “Curator, Creator, Zine Maker, Activist, Nude Model” and “Aspiring Porn Director” to my already-lengthy and diverse title list.

As my Journey of Self™ progressed, my elevator pitch becoming more and more unique, it became increasingly hard for me to relate to the industry that raised me. I was aware there were issues of diversity in our “mainstream industry” (i.e. media or events created to hold space and elevate those doing great work in our industry — conferences, podcasts, publications, and so on). I had seen article on article on Twitter thread debating what conferences lacked diversity, with the Underrepresented pleading with, educating, and eventually (usually) giving the Represented the benefit of the doubt that they will “try harder next year.” I would see podcast conversations and articles and Design Twitter™ threads that continually made me say, “This is not my industry.” And I believed it. Only one problem: By virtue of the actual work I made, I was. So what now?

Working on Divine has changed my view on our “mainstream industry” and the conversations around diversity in it, greatly. All of these Twitter threadsand articles and pleas by women (or any non-white non-male) trying to explain and educate and give these facets of the industry the “benefit of the doubt” hurts me. Because I realize that those of us who choose to hold space for others, be it with a zine or a conference, do so knowingly and with the inherent responsibility of influencing an audience. We are not children in kindergarten spilling our milk. What we do matters. What we do affects others whether or not it was our first or 100th time doing it, and we must live with the consequences of our actions. Whether or not you meant it, not including any women, or including 3 women out of an 18 person line up and patting yourself on the back, makes me — as a woman — feel fucking bad. And you did that. You can say you wanted to include all you want, and list your reasons why you failed. I may or may not listen to them, depending on my rapport with you. But it is not my job to feel unwelcome by your programming and stick around. And it hurts me to see others expending their energy to the point of exhaustion and neglect of themselves, because they have been taught that this is the industry we have to accept, and that we need it to accept us in order to be “relevant.” We are afraid that if we ignore you or tell you to go educate yourself and fix your own conference that we’ll be less relevant, less included, or deemed unkind. Well I’m not & fuck that.

We don’t need women writing articles on the detailed reasons why your reasons for failing don’t hold up. The bottom line is: if you hold space for others and view curating diverse perspectives as anything else than a privilege, you need to stop what you’re doing and figure out why. One more time for the people in the back:

Sharing diverse perspectives is a privilege, not a chore.

And it is hard work to realize your sphere of influence is limited & widen it. Not only for your conference or podcast or publication, but for yourself.

So I hold space for every person who is tired or scared of being cast out. Every person who doesn’t care if Fancy Conference A or Big Deal Podcast B ever knows who they are or invites them to be a part. Every person who wants to not care. But I also hold space for those who own their mistakes and make it right. Those improving in action. And those admitting their shortcomings and quietly shifting. I see you.

I spend my days making art and writing, work with rad people who hire me, dancing in my underwear in 8 inch stripper boots, cheering for friends dancing on stages in their underwear in 8 inch stripper boots, working to fine tune my intuition and myself via therapy, and eating. And I do all of this in a city that is decentralized, and therefore very easy to disconnect. If I want to believe that “This is not my industry” and never engage with it again. I could…in theory.

But in practice, I care. I care about the industry that raised me. I care about the people in it. And I’ve found as I’ve slowly morphed “This is not my industry” to “This is totally my industry and fuck you to anyone who makes me feel otherwise,” that there are so many out there who feel the same. Some are ingrained in and some are on the outskirts of this thing we view as the “mainstream industry,” so holistically swearing it off only defeats the chances of connecting with potential allies. It doesn’t mean I have to aggressively try to change what is on the daily. It means I have to be able to allow. I have to allow those who align to come over and sit with me in the lunch room so that we can form NEW pillars of mainstream. And in this effort to build strong, new structures of weirdos, misfits, and the generally tired…we need as many lunch buddies as we can get.

This is totally my industry and fuck you to anyone who makes me feel otherwise.

So hold your energy as if it was the most precious resource. Withdraw it quickly and without hesitation. Take care of yourself with the utmost passion, and get up from those tables where those kids are wearing you out. Sitting alone is lonely and scary, but it gets easier with time and practice. And in the meantime, bring your Dunkaroos over here. I’m with you. ︎︎

Follow on Medium ︎

choose-your-own-adventure

hire me for art & design

i am available for both in-house & remote art direction, design, illustration, and typographic work. with a decade of experience, i love conceptual campaign work as much as i love making high impact visual work. my dream clients are those who represent sex or body positive values, music or entertainment (key art), editorial or magazine work, social change nonprofits, or anyone who is looking to hire a mind that is constantly thinking of inclusion, sex culture, and work that makes you feel something.



hire me to give a talk, workshop, or write for you


my
talks are themed around creative business and holding a non-conservative / sexual feminist identity within a conservative industry. i’ve given a number of talks within the design space, sharing my story about moving to LA and diving into freelance life after years in NYC agency life. the story includes the struggles and realities of building an independent creative business, how pole dancing opened the door to finding sex & body positive causes that led to my zine, divine, and how we can work towards building a more inclusive, sex positive culture within design and without.


i’m currently working with an event called the good rule: an evening of story, typography and bad ideas. learn more here.

my workshops focus around experimental lettering and creative exercises to help people find and trust their visual voice. please reach out with any questions or further inquiries around either of these programs.


my writing exists around all of these themes, and you can read some pieces i’ve written here, here and here.


PROJECTS        INFO
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©2017 Jillian Adel