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Take Note!

Hi Everyone,

Those of you who are regular blog readers may remember my asking for your input on a series of notecards that I was designing a few months ago. Many of you were kind enough to share your thoughts, which helped me finalize the line. I incorporated a lot of your suggestions into the line, and wanted to say THANK YOU again for sharing… I am deeply grateful for this creative and 'Zenspired' community. In May, the notecards debuted at the National Stationery Show, and I was excited to see some of the designs on display:
And tonight I'm delighted to let you know that the first five collections of notecards are up on Amazon! Here are visuals so you can see how they turned out. If you'd like to order some, you can click on the blue title above each collection, or you can go to the 'shop' button at the top of my website.                                             

LOVE LINES: M3322 Love Lines: 10 Assorted Blank Note Cards Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink w/Matching Envelopes.


M3316 Whimsical Waves: 10 Assorted Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink Blank Note Cards w/Matching Envelopes.


WORD STACKS: M3317 Word Stacks: 10 Assorted Blank Note Cards Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink w/Matching Envelopes.

M3321 Written In Stone: 10 Assorted Blank Note Cards: Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink w/Matching Envelopes.


M3315 Design Tunes: 10 Assorted Zenspirations® by Joanne Fink Blank Note Cards w/Matching Envelopes.


I created the music collection based on your input-- music and Scripture were the two most requested themes. I had trouble deciding whether to do musical instruments or music notes, and in the end just went with variations of the treble clef, as it is the most versatile. Here is a close-up so you can see it better:                      

Each collection is offered two ways; as thank you notes and blank notes. I hand-lettered 'Thank You' to coordinate with the different looks. For example, here's what I did for the Whimsical Waves:

I really appreciated your input during the design phase, and now that the note cards have been printed, I'd like to get your input again-- as an incentive, if you leave a comment answering the four questions below, I'll enter your name into a drawing-- and the prize will be a box of your favorite notecard collection! Since there are many readers with the same first name, please make sure your comment includes YOUR FULL NAME so I can properly identify the winner. Let me know how you like the new line, and please answer these four questions:

1. Which is your favorite collection?
2. Do you prefer thank you notes or blank notes?
3. Would you use these yourself and/or give them as a gift? If not, why not?
4. If the line is successful and we get to do more collections, what other themes would you like me to consider designing?
I look forward to your thoughts… 
Before closing tonight, I want to let all the Coloring Enthusiasts know that I'm running a little behind on sending out pages from the next two Zenspirations® Create, Color, Pattern & Play books, but they should be in your in-box by Wednesday night. If you are expecting them and having received anything from me by Thursday, please send me an e-mail ( to let me know, and I'll forward them to you. FYI, I WILL NEED TO HAVE THEM BACK no later than Thursday the 9th, so if you can't work on them next week, there will be another opportunity to submit inspiration examples in October.                                    
Stay Zenspired,



Press Check Complete!

Hi Everyone,

Thursday was an exciting day for me… I drove to South Florida to attend the press run for my new book, When You Lose Someone You LoveIt was truly special because in addition to being the artist and author, I'm also the publisher! It's hard for me to describe my elation as I watched the press churn out large sheets which will be cut down and bound into books. I took photos of some of the press sheets to share with you. Hard to imagine that by July these press sheets will be cut, trimmed and bound into gift books.

The book has 112 pages, and the last 32 pages (shown above) will have color. The first 80 pages (shown below) won't have color, but will have both line art and half-tones.

In addition to watching the pages being printed, I got to see the cover proofs. You'll notice that there are two versions in the photo below: one with a bar code, which is the version you'll get if you order the book, and the other with a logo imprinted on it, which is to help raise funds for the Modern Widows Club

I know first-hand that when you lose someone you love, you often feel confused and alone and aren’t sure how to get your life back on track. Joining MWC made a big difference in my life; I felt an immediate connection with the other widows I’ve met through the organization, and am deeply grateful for the support we provide to one another both in person and online. I care so much about the organization that in addition to creating custom-imprinted books, I am also going to donate a percentage of book sales to the Modern Widows Club, to help continue the wonderful mentoring work they do with widows around the globe. If you know someone who has been widowed, please tell them about the organization. MWC membership is an affordable $25/year. Coincidentally, today, June 23rd, is International Widows Day… please take a moment to check out MWC's post about it.                                                                                                                                                                
And now the really exciting news: since the book has been printed, and is on the way to the bindery,        I am taking pre-orders! Pre-orders won't be shipping until August (after all the wonderful Kickstarter supporters get their copies), but it would be helpful to know how many people want books so I can order boxes and shipping supplies. So if you would like to comfort someone who has lost a loved one, I'd be honored if you would consider gifting them a copy of When You Lose Someone You Love.                                                        
Click to pre-order the book, or hit the 'SHOP' button at the top of my website, then hit 'BOOKS', and you should see this:                                                                                                                                                     
In addition to my first self-published book, regular blog readers know that I am hard at work on my next two Zenspirations® Color, Create, Pattern & Play books, and reached out to all the Coloring & Patterning Enthusiasts to help me create inspiration examples. I'm not sure what I was expecting-- but I have been totally AMAZED and AWED by the submissions! Last week I sent all the volunteers pdfs of four designs from the new Birds & Butterflies book, (which you can see on last week's blog post) and have been truly delighted with the variety of creatively colored and patterned submissions.                                                                             
There are way too many masterpieces to share in tonight's blog (and I don't want to ruin the surprise for those of you who plan to get the new books when they are released in October), but I did want to share a few examples so you'll know why I'm so excited. Here are some examples of delightfully different owls. The once below were create by Hannah Kalish, Jamie Haberkorn and Kim Aarts.
The next row was created by Kathryn Leonard, Tina Walker and Terri Brown.                                                         
I especially love the ones below where the artists turned a simple coloring page into an interactive scene. From left to right these were created by Lora Trapp, Puneet Sekhon and Rita Barakat.                                                     
I'll be sharing all the incredible submissions with my editor on Wednesday, and will be in touch with the artists whose work she wants to include. THANK YOU to everyone who took the time create an inspiration piece-- you certainly have inspired me! And if you didn't have time to create something this past week, but would be interested in having your work featured in one of my books, there will be another opportunity to submit something for the Trees & Leaves and the Heartfelt Expressions books in a couple of months.                      
If you are as impressed as I am with the wonderful owls, please take a moment to leave a comment about the inspiration samples. I'm sure the contributors would like to know that their work has sparked some new ideas and directions for you, and I'd like to know if there are particular techniques you'd me to include in the new books.                                                                                                                                                                  
So until next week, Happy Coloring!                                                                                                                    
Stay Zenspired,





Hi Everyone,

It's hard to imagine, but my next two Zenspirations® Color, Create, Pattern & Play books -- Birds & Butterflies and Expressions of Faith-- are due to the publisher July 15th… and will be in the stores in October! I'm really excited about the additional full color pages that will be added to the front of the books. If you are one of the coloring enthusiasts who volunteered to create inspiration pages for possible inclusion in the new books, you should have received instructions from me, along with pdfs of the four designs below. IF YOU HAVEN'T RECEIVED THEM, it's because I didn't have (or couldn't find) your e-mail address. If you'd still like to participate, please e-mail me at, and put "COLORING ENTHUSIAST NEEDS ART" in the subject line, and I'll send them to you.
As a reminder I am looking for people who enjoy patterning as well as coloring, and want to showcase a variety of dry media (color pencils, markers, gel pens, crayons, etc.). Since I always like opening doors for young talent, I'd be happy for you to share this info with any promising art students you know-- especially ones who would like to have their work published. If the timing doesn't work out for these two books, my next two books -- Trees & Leaves and Heartfelt Expressions-- are due mid October, so there will be another opportunity.                                                                                                                                                                          
This is going to be a big week for me… as my Kickstarter supporters already know, I was finally able to send my new book, When You Lose Someone You Love, to the printer last month. Although I've written many books, this is my first foray into self-publishing, and I'm praying that everything goes smoothly when I attend the press run on Thursday. I have put my heart and soul into this book, and hope it will bring comfort to those who have lost a loved one. I'm gearing up to ship more than 400 packages to my Kickstarter supporters next month... ordering boxes and shipping materials, and making sure I have the rest of the rewards ready. One of the rewards was a choice of Facebook banners, and I wanted to share the four I created with you:
I'd love to know which is your favorite, whether you'd be interested in a Zenspirations banner for your Facebook page, and if there is a theme you'd like me to do. Please leave a comment to let me know-- who knows, I may surprise you with your own customized Zenspirations banner!                                                      
I don't like it when part of a design gets hidden behind the photo, so I designed the banners to work around Facebook's standard template. To test it I uploaded the top one to the When You Lose Someone You Love Facebook page. Here's what it looks like:



If you are on Facebook, I'd appreciate your 'liking' the new When You Lose Someone You Love Facebook page: 

Since Americans celebrate Father's Day this Sunday, I thought I'd close this week by sharing a couple Father's Day card designs, in hopes that it will inspire you to make a card for someone you think is an excellent dad. I created the card below for someone who has made a big difference in my son's life. It's pretty simple to do-- a background wash, three Dangle Monograms and a few heartfelt words.

If you like to Dangle, you could try a design like the one below, which I did for my greeting card licensee, Design Design. It was printed on iridescent paper, embossed and embellished with glitter and gems.
I'm looking forward to seeing your card and coloring creations... if you share on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook, please use the #zenspirations, so I can see what you do.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Wishing you all a colorful and creative week.
Stay Zenspired,







A LEGACY of LETTERS — Remembering Hermann Zapf

Hi Everyone,

As many of you heard, master calligrapher and typographer Hermann Zapf, died this week at 96. Every calligrapher and typographer I know credits Zapf with having influenced the way they look at letter design. Although Professor Zapf was well into his nineties, his death has caused widespread sadness. He was truly incomparable, and the worldwide community of letter lovers mourns his loss while simultaneously celebrating his legacy. Though I had not seen him for many years, he was part of the foundation on which I built my craft, and I feel empty and unsettled knowing he is gone. I created the piece below, and am dedicating this week’s Zenspirations® blog to Hermann Zapf, with mingled grief and gratitude.

Since you can read about Zapf in Wikipedia or on the many design websites which have posted remembrances and eulogies this week (one of my favorites was written by Anne Quito, Design Reporter for Quartz (, I thought I’d share more personal reminisces.

When I was a young scribe, I was fortunate to have been accepted into one of the last ‘masters’ classes that Professor Zapf gave at Rochester Institute of Technology. That two week period had a significant impact not only on my lettering, but also on my outlook. It was 1985, and 25 students from all over North America eagerly gathered in the classroom awaiting the arrival of the great teacher we’d all heard so much about. 23 of the 25 travelled to Rochester with a portable slanted drawing board… but I was not one of them! I have always preferred to work on a surface with a slight (5 to 10 degree) tilt. This stems in part from the rainbow lettering I liked to do back then, and my discovery that I had better control of the way the colors blended if I worked on a relatively flat surface. But since I, like most of my classmates, had studied with British scribes, we were taught to use slanted boards to achieve the best possible writing. This was the first time that any of us had the chance to study with a German lettering designer and we had no idea what to expect.

Professor Zapf walked into class that first morning, and after introducing himself announced “I work flat.” Well, my heart soared! I felt vindicated! Someone else—and not just anyone else—one of the most respected lettering artists in the world—also preferred to work on a flat surface. The second day of class, out of deference to the Professor’s preference, not a single student brought their slant boards to class. But by the end of the week those students who were most comfortable working on a slanted surface went back to using their drawing boards, while the rest of us practiced letterforms on the flat desks provided. What I learned is that it’s important to do what works for you… If someone you respect suggests you do something a certain way, try it. But if after trying it you know in your heart that their method isn’t right for you, do what makes sense. After all, if HOW you are doing something isn’t right for you, it will probably show in WHAT you are doing.

When I give Zenspirations workshops I’m fond of telling my students that I since I invented Zenspirations, I can thereby give them permission to use the techniques they like, and to make up their own rules. Although my blog isn’t a workshop, in case you need it, I’m giving you permission to do the same. Have fun… experiment… take chances… try new things… we can’t grow as artists or human beings if we aren’t willing to change. One of the things I most admired about Professor Zapf was that he looked at the world differently from almost anyone else… he pioneered computerized typography because he had a vision and a dream… and the talent and dedication to make it happen.

Another bond that I shared with Professor Zapf was a love of the greeting card industry. Professor Zapf had a long-term relationship with Hallmark, and developed several fonts for their exclusive use. Hallmark even made a fascinating short film in 1967, The Art of Hermann Zapfwhich you can see here: It's well worth the watch. 

Below is a photo of our class, with Professor Zapf in the bottom left corner. Two of Professor Zapf’s best known students, Julian Waters (son of my awesome teacher Sheila Waters) and Jerry Kelly, were visiting that day and are in the photograph. Many of my classmates, including Barry Morentz, Eleanor Winters, Eliza Schulte Holliday, Sandy Schaadt, Sherrie Lovler, Karen Gorst, Jerry Tresser, Carole Maurer and Peter Fratedeus, are still active in the lettering world today.

Something else happened during the class which made a difference in my life… papermaker Joe Brown came in to our classroom and asked if anyone wanted to see how to make paper… needless to say, a bunch of us immediately headed down to his paper lab… where I fell in love with papermaking. I set up a papermaking studio when I got home, and spent years happily experimenting with different ways to 'paint' with pulp. I also went back to RIT for several summers to paper making with Professor Brown, which was a wonderful experience. It seemed fitting to tie that in to the tribute piece I wanted to create a piece in memory of Professor Zapf, so I raided the stack of papers that I made 30 years ago at RIT, and found one I liked.

In his honor, I used one of Professor Zapf's most popular fonts, Zapfino, for the lettering above... but to create the piece below, I hand-lettered the text, then scanned it and placed it on top of the hand-made paper in PhotoShop. 

Professor Zapf was incredibly prolific. This is one of my favorite books of his work.

I wanted to share this page with you, because it lists all of the fonts he designed between 1938 and 1998.

If you have memories of Hermann Zapf, or would like to share how his work has influenced yours, please take a moment to leave a comment.

Farewell, Herr Professor… thank you for making a difference in my life… and for the difference you’ve made in the world. Your legacy will live on in hearts and letterforms of those whose lives you touched.

Stay Zenspired,





Hi Everyone,

I've spent much of the past month on the road; visiting friends and family, filming videos for Sakura & episodes of the PBS television show Scrapbook Soup, and attending SURTEX & the National Stationery Show in NY. It was at the Stationery Show in the early 80's that I discovered the wonderful world of greeting cards… and all at once I felt as though I had found my home. All these years later it still feels like home-- although the industry continues to evolve, it continues to be home to some of the most creative, caring people I know.  
HOME is a theme I've been incorporating into my work for decades. One of the very first cards I ever wrote had the message "I love coming home" on the cover, followed by "because you are there" on the inside. I tried to find a copy of it to share with you, but was unsuccessful… I did find a foil-stamped moving announcement that I did around that time, so I thought I'd share that with you instead.
When I first began Zenspirations® in 2008, I realized that the combination of art, lettering and sentiment made the brand a natural fit for greeting cards, and began licensing my cards to Design Design. Below is one of the first Zenspirations greeting cards I created.
The inside message reads: "Your love completes my world… Happy Anniversary."
When I began Dangling, one of the first motifs I dangled were houses. Below are a few examples which I colored digitally with one of the "Cool, Colorful & Creative" washes I blogged about two weeks ago. 
Below is a close-up of the center house. 
The Stationery Show and Greeting Card Industry provided my first professional 'home'… today Zenspirations is my passion, profession and my spiritual home; it's a home I invite you to share with me.
Part of the Zenspirations philosophy is making a difference for others ("Live by Inspiring Others to Fly")… and I am drawn to people who share my commitment for making a difference in the world. 
I created the piece above for Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH), an incredible organization in Portland, OR, which works to build housing, create hope and improve lives. CPAH's Executive Director, Sheila Greenlaw Fink (who happens to be my sister-in-law!), and I share a love of reading and of building community (hence the book as the foundation of the house). Although I live on the opposite side of the country, I believe in the work CPAH does, and wanted to create a piece that would help raise funds to continue it. 

HomeWord Bound is the annual spring fundraiser that CPAH holds featuring local authors. Now in its 17th year, it has become a fixture on the local literary scene. Sheila shared with me ""Over the years, we’ve found that well-built homes, like well-built stories, have the power to transform. We’ve built or renovated 7 multifamily communities over the past 15 years which provide homes for some 325 households and 700 individuals. We have a new project opening in Beaverton this fall, and are currently searching for our next development site. We are inspired by stories of strength, recovery, regeneration, and determination. And home seems to be at the center of all of them! We look forward to continuing this work together in the communities that we serve." 

I hope you'll take a moment to visit CPAH's website: to learn more about the important work they do. Volunteers and donations are always welcome: If you leave a comment WITH YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS letting me know that you are supporting CPAH (or a similar non-profit near you) I would be happy to send you a digital download of the "Follow Your Heart" piece or the 3 Dangle houses design (be sure to specify!).

I am truly reveling in the joy of being home, and wanted to share my most recent house design with you. It's from one of my meditative journals, with simple lines and a heartfelt message. 

I hope your home is filled with compassion and creativity... I'd love to see any Zenspiration house (or other!) designs you've been working on. You can find me on:
Instagram at
Pinterest at 
FB at
and by e-mail at 
Please include #Zenspirations so it will be easier for me to find your work. 
Stay Zenspired,