Simply Jessica Marie


A Story about Copyright Ownership from an Artist's Perspective

LearningJessica PeddicordComment

Tonight, I wanted to share a personal story with you about a time when I lost hundreds if not thousands of dollars on potential sales - all because I didn't have a clear and professional contract. If you're a fellow artist/calligrapher/stationer reading this - while I wish you won't be able to relate to this at one point or another, I have a feeling you probably will.

before i dive into the story, take a peek at the 2 contracts i swear by here - at 40% off through tonight at midnight!

Stationery and Calligraphy Template by The Contract Shop | A story about copyright ownership from an artist's perspective

A couple years ago, I designed a beautiful custom wedding crest for a sweet SJM couple, along with some complementary watercolor floral paintings that we used throughout their wedding invitations. When we finished designing their invitation suite, it was time to chat about their day-of details!

I provided my couple with a list of options for their day-of designs, including welcome favor tags, programs, a ceremony backdrop, menus, place cards, and more. To stay within budget, they chose a couple of the options and said they would forego the others (is this raising a red flag for ya?).

A few weeks after their beautiful wedding weekend, I saw a photo from their wedding featuring their wedding welcome bags - and I was FLOORED.

They had taken the artwork I created for their invitations, and used it to print their own welcome tags, welcome gift labels for at least 4 different items (each with a unique design), a wedding weekend itinerary card, and water bottle labels. And they likely printed more details, but that is all I could see from Instagram at that point. 

What made matters worse? Not only did they print my artwork without my permission (making me feel like they didn't respect me as a businesswoman - and that the designs I created for them didn't have enough value to be printed professionally), but they also manipulated the artwork from their designs. They digitally picked apart flowers that were a part of their crest and invitation, creating ew designs of their own. Again - all without telling me, and all without my permission.

maybe they didn't know any better...

Now I have to say - I honestly, truly love my clients - that couple included! And from chatting with many clients since this instance, I've found out that most clients who don't work in the art or wedding industry simply think that if they pay for custom artwork, they deserve the rights to the digital files of said artwork for free to use as they please. An understandable assumption if you're not familiar with copyright law, but...

Did you know that's not the case? Did you know:

  • hat you legally own the rights to all artwork you design - whether it is a custom commission or a shop product design? 
  • That the artwork made by you is immediately protected by federal copyright law - whether you register it or not? 
  • That if you find out that a client id print your artwork outside of something you created and sold to them, that you have the right to invoice them for the value of that piece?
  • And that no one else can alter or sell what you create (unless they pay for a license to do so - in which case they still can't alter your designs - just print and/or sell them depending on your license agreement)?

I knew all of those things, but since I didn't have a professional contract at the time when I designed that wedding artwork and stationery - there wasn't a whole lot I could do. The random contract I googled and edited on my own definitely didn't have a copyright ownership clause, it didn't protect my business, and it definitely wouldn't have held up in court.

what would i do now, with a solid contract?

If I had a solid contract at that time, I could have sent them a simple, professional email saying how beautiful their wedding was - but that as per our contract, I would be sending over an invoice for the designs they printed with my artwork. 

But because I am ot a fan of confrontation and prefer to love on my clients from the beginning, I would have instead simply referenced our contract at multiple touch points during our design process.

I would have made it super clear during our original day-of details convo that if they would like to commission me to create some of their day-of details and print others on their own - that all they'd need to do was purchase an extended license agreement for those designs, and everyone would be happy as a clam! No hurt feelings, no money lost, no awkward convos, and no legal issues. 

what you can do to protect yourself

the two contracts i swear by:

*Please note that the print release contract is technically for photographers, but I've chatted with Christina (the owner of The Contract Shop) and she said all we need to do is swap the language of photos/photographer for art/artist, calligraphy/calligrapher, or stationery/stationer and it would be PERFECT for us to use as our print agreement, too!! 

And at $29.40 on sale - you can't beat that!!

have any questions?

I know how tempting it can be to fall back on the "welllll, this free Google contract is probably okay" mindset, until it's not. Unti you've lost out on money like I did.

Have questions before investing in a solid contract this year? end me an email and let me know! I'm happy to chat and help you decide which contract is best for you.

Also, please know that I'm in no way a lawyer and this isn't legal advice, but that I 100% trust in Christina (she's a fellow calligrapher so she really gets us!) and the contracts she creates.

PS - Skip all the way to the bottom? I know that was a long story ;) Here's my stationery & calligraphy contract, and here's the print release contract I use when I send digital files of artwork to clients. They're both 40% off (no code needed!) until TONIGHT at midnight!

his blog post contains affiliate links, but I would 100% still share this email even if I wasn't an affiliate. I own and use both of the contracts I mention in this email, so you can trust that I believe in them!

5 Best Black Friday Sales for Creatives

SJM Shop, Learning, DesignJessica PeddicordComment

Happy Black Friday, again!! I am SO excited to share 5 of my absolute favorite Black Friday sales with y'all today, specifically for creative entrepreneurs and artists. Most of these sales only come around once a year, and will make a huge impact on your business throughout the rest of this year and into 2018! 

Of course, as we head into Small Business Saturday tomorrow, I also wanted to say thank you oh so much for your amazing support of my small business this year! All of the artwork I create is for y'all, and in return you keep me continually inspired to be a better artist and businesswoman. And for that, I am forever thankful!

Alright y'all - now time for my favorite sales roundup!

The 5 Best Black Friday Sales for Creatives, Artists, Shop Owners, Stationers, and Calligraphers | Simply Jessica Marie

5 best Black Friday sales for creatives

The Contract Shop | 40% Off

I'm sure you've heard it time and time again - it is absolutely necessary as a business owner to have a solid, professional contract. But I know, I know. It can be daunting to even know where to start, right? Most lawyers have hardly any experience with our creative industry, so they don't know how to begin making contracts for us.

That is why I LOVE my friend Christina Scalera's The Contract Shop. Christina is both a creative, and a lawyer - aka, a lawyer for creatives. She GETS our industry, because she's in it, too. She listens to our needs, and creates contracts contracts that set us up for success and protect us and our clients.

And today through Monday, her entire shop is 40% off. She only has this sale twice a year, and this is the last time for 2017!

Make this year the year you get "legit" with a professional contract, tailored to you. Whether you're an artist, calligrapher, stationer, photographer, wedding planner, workshop host, or any other gamut of creative - she has contracts for just about everyone. Click below to see which best fits your unique business!

SC Stockshop | 40% Off - Ends Tonight!

Are y'all tired of me talking about how much I love the SC Stockshop yet? Sorry, because I'm going to do it again!

I can't even begin to express how many ways I use SC Stockshop photos.

  • I use them to display my shop products (saving me SO MUCH MONEY AND TIME from hiring a photographer to do a photoshoot each time I launch a new collection)
  • I integrate them in my social media (perfect for posting in a pinch!)
  • I even use them throughout my client price proposals (I've had clients RAVE about how beautifully mine stand out compared to the other artists they were considering!!)
  • And I use them to display client design mockups so they can confidently see how their invitation suites and paintings will look far before they get to see them in person (it gets them both excited for their pieces, and calm because they can envision how they'll look once printed - much more realistic looking than a mockup on a solid colored background!)

Shay also only has this sale twice a year, with this sale being the last one of 2017. All of her photos, including the amazing brand builder sets, are 40% off through tonight at midnight with code STOCKUP40 at checkout!

Once a photo is sold out, it won't return to the shop - so grab your favorites ASAP! Then begin to have fun playing with your new "toys" as I like to call them :)

PS - Want to watch tutorials about how I use SC Stockshop photos before investing in them? Click here to read and watch all my free trainings! 

Adobe Creative Cloud | 20% Off - Ends Tonight!

I literally use my favorite Adobe programs (Illustrator and Photoshop) daily. As an artist and stationer, I need these programs in order to professionally scan and edit my artwork, as well as create stunning layouts for printed products and web graphics.

If you've been considering taking the leap and investing in Adobe Creative Cloud, now is the time to do so! They're having a 20% off sale that only lasts until tonight, and won't be back until next year!

I personally have the entire cloud rather than investing in individual programs, because I do use some of their other programs (like inDesign) on occasion, too. It's much more affordable as a bundle if you want more than 2 programs! Plus, they're always updating the programs and you get free upgrades with Creative Cloud. SO nice.

ConvertKit | Free 30 Day Trial

You've probably heard the saying that you don't own your social media followers, but you do own your email list. And not to beat a dead horse - but with all the algorithm changes and the looming Net Neutrality act potentially disappearing on Tuesday (meaning people might have to pay more to access social media) it couldn't be more true that email is king. 

Earlier this year, I switched from MailChimp to ConvertKit. And y'all I could not be happier that I did! This email marketing platform is insanely smart and powerful, but simple to use. 

I use it to segment my subscribers into different groups (really important since I have different emails that I send to artists, artists specifically interested in the SJM Art School, brides/wedding vendors, and more - that way I don't bug people with emails they simply don't want so they don't hit that dreaded unsubscribe button!)

I also use it to create forms throughout my website and social media that allow y'all to easily sign up for freebies and exclusive trainings - and instantly get access upon entering your email address.

And today through Monday, you can sign up for a FREE 30 Day Trial - something they pretty much never offer and truthfully won't again for a looong time! That way, you can test it out, get nerdy with making subscriber lists and awesome forms to get your followers to sign up for your newsletter, and fall just as in love with it as I have.

Don't miss this opportunity to grow your online business!!

Blick | Up to 30% Off + Free Shipping

Blick is my go-to online shop for all art supplies. They by far have the widest selection of art supplies, from watercolor paper to watercolor paints, paint brushes, paint palettes, and SO MUCH MORE. It's essentially my equivalent to my J.Crew obsession, but for art supplies!

Use code WKD2017 through midnight (CST) 11/27/17: 15% off $69+, 20% off $99+, 25% off $159+, 30% off $239+, free shipping on $25+! 

My personal favorite pick from the sale? These Arches Watercolor Paper Pads, which are 50% off (no code needed!). Arches is the creme de la creme of watercolor paper, and this is an insane deal!! I've never seen it this affordable.

To see even more amazing deals, click the link below!

Other Amazingly Mentionable Sales

Well y'all, I couldn't just stop at 5 awesome Black Friday Weekend sales. Here are some (incredibly) honorable mentions that I know y'all will love, too!

I hope you enjoy these Black Friday sales for creatives, artists, entrepreneurs, calligraphers, and shop owners! Hopefully they're a fun treat for yourself - but also spark some ideas of what to get as gifts for your creative friends this year, too!

5 Tips for Using Styled Stock Photos for Shop Owners

Learning, SJM Shop, DesignJessica PeddicordComment

Alrighty y'all - it's about to be that time of year.

Black Friday weekend is upon us! Are you ready?

If you're a designer or shop owner, you may be finalizing last-minute graphics that you hope will totally wow your potential customers and make hem decide that they eed to purchase our products/services ver the countless others on sale this upcoming weekend.

How do you do so? 

Aside from ah-mazing products and services (which I know you have to offer) and charming copy - photos are what will really sell your designs. 

They're what is going to help your potential customer envision your product in their life, and feel confident in the quality even before they receive that holiday cheer filled package in the mail.

My not-so-secret weapon? SC Stockshop styled stock photos.

And lucky us - they're on sale through Friday!

sc stockshop semi-annual sale

coupon code: STOCKUP40 for 40% off!

I truly believe that my Black Friday Weekend sales have been so successful over the past few years because of the beautiful SC Stockshop photos I used to showcase them in my shop, in the banners on my home page, in my newsletter emails, and on social media. It's no secret that I love Shay's photos, I talk about them all the time! But today, I want to share my top tips for using styled stock photos for shop owners with you, so that you can love using them just as much as I do!

Shay is having a HUGE 40% off sale in her shop Friday, November 24 at midnight with code STOCKUP40 at checkout. She only has this sale twice a year, and one the images in her shop sell out, she won't be adding them back in! So if you see some pretties that would be perfect for your brand and shop, make sure to snag them today!

Custom Calligraphy Wedding Vows by Simply Jessica Marie | Top 5 Tips for Using Styled Stock Photos for Shop Owners | SC Stockshop


This one might seem like a given, but it is oh so important! Shay has such a variety of gorgeous images in the SC Stockshop, all with unique personalities and color palettes. While I might love some of her blue-hued images, I always stick to photos that have primarily pinks, greens, golds, black and white to stay on brand!

I believe that your imagery should always be as consistent as possible - especially the photos you use on social media. Your instagram feed should look like it is a direct extension of your website and shop, so using photos with props in your color palette is key! There's hardly a better compliment to receive than, "I knew that was your photo before even seeing your username - your images are always so recognizable!" That my friends is brand awareness at its best, and using cohesive color palettes with your styled stock images is a great way to start!


One of my favorite features of Shay's photos is their high quality. The resolution of her images is so crisp, which allows you to zoom in and use portions of one image at a tighter crop - which is perfect for detail photos of your shop products! Zooming in and cropping the use of one photo in different spots of the image allows you to also get more for your money, as you are technically getting multiple images from one overall photo! Shay styles her photos so strategically with beautifully placed props throughout the image, so often you can get up to five different cropped sections depending on the layout!

I clearly love this image - and used it consistently throughout my holiday designs! The full vertical image was perfect for my Nutcracker Watercolor Gift Tags Variety Set (which will be coming to the Lifestyle Shop on Black Friday!), to showcase all five designs in one image. I then zoomed in and used just the cropped upper left corner of the image for my Nutcracker and Clara Gift Tags Set, and used the middle right section of the image for my Nutcracker Gift Tags Set!

When determining which portion of an image to use for which products - think through the aesthetic that best matches the story of that particular product. For instance, my Clara design is much more delicate and feminine, so I wanted to use primarily dainty props in this image, focusing on the golds, hints of greens, and lots of white. The Nutcracker design is much more vibrant and has a slightly more masculine undertone to it, so the bold black and white gift wrap portion of the design balanced with softer whites and golds was ideal to visually tell the story of his character!


While Shay's images are gorgeous, it is important to know how to use them with your designs to make your end result images look realistic! One of my favorite tips for doing so is to layer your designs and use angles.

Stacking gift tags on top of one another, or stacking a greeting card on top of an envelope, adds depth and interest to your photo. It is one of the best ways in my opinion to make your images pop and look lifelike! It takes the "flatness" out of a flat lay, and helps to tell the story of your product better. When a potential customer sees your greeting card stacked on top of an envelope next to a pen and some washi tape - it helps them to visualize how they would use your card to write a letter to a loved one, write their name on the front of the envelope, and then seal the flap of the envelope with some festive washi tape!

The same goes for the gift tags. Stacking them on top of one another (especially using a couple of different designs) like the Nutcracker and Sugar Plum Fairy near scissors and ornaments will help them visualize wrapping their gifts, adding the tags as the final touch - making sure to select the perfect design for each individual loved one - and tucking the gifts under their tree adorned with ornaments.

Using angles when orienting your designs layered on top of one another is just the icing on top of the cake when it comes to adding interest and a lifelike nature! In real life if you are writing a holiday card or wrapping gifts, everything won't be picture perfect and straight. So, you don't want to have everything at a perfect upright or horizontal angle in your imagery, either! One or two pieces can be perfectly straight (like my Dancing Snowflake Ballerinas Holiday Card and Clara Art Print), but the surrounding details should have some sort of an angle to them.

Make sure that the angles make sense - for instance the envelope is oriented in a way that makes it fit perfectly tucked between the washi tape, pen, and ornaments. Using a variety of angles throughout your image, switching them up from left oriented to right oriented, will create an even more realistic design.


Once you have layered your designs and added angles to certain elements, it is important to follow that up by adding drop shadows to your products! Drop shadows are the little shadows you see underneath my Sugar Plum Fairy Christmas Card and blush envelope. Without these shadows, the products would look flat and lifeless - and would blend into the white background of the desktop. Adding the drop shadows gives them more dimension, and helps them to fit into the image better! 

But, you don't just want to add a drop shadow that is from the preset of Illustrator or Photoshop. You want to ensure that the angle and spread/blur of the shadow matches the other shadows in the styled stock image! So for instance, when looking at the washi tape and the gift boxes in this image, I can see that the shadow is extending out to the left and down toward the bottom of the image. So, I mimicked that with the drop shadows I created!

It is much easier to explain using drop shadows visually - so take a peek at the video tutorial above for my exact steps about how to use them!

Top Five Tips for Using Styled Stock Photos for Business | SC Stockshop | Simply Jessica Marie Instagram


Remember back in Tip #1 when I shared the importance of your Instagram feed looking like a direct extension of your website and brand? Well, here's a snapshot of mine from last holiday season! All of the images either use my brand colors - blush, peony pink, fuchsia, magnolia green, and pops of black, white and gold - or tell the story of what I do - custom watercolor paintings, brush calligraphy, and wedding stationery. 

How do I achieve a good balance of those colors and visual storytelling? By integrating and mixing styled stock images with iPhone images and professional images! Having a mixture of a few different types of images throughout your feed creates interest. If you were to use 100% styled stock images in your feed, it would definitely be gorgeous, but would start to get pretty repetitive unless you owned all of Shay's images! In order to make sure that your styled stock images blend in realistically with your overall feed, sprinkling them in between other photos breaks up the repetition and encourages your followers to look at all of your images individually!

For instance, I used a lot of Shay's styled stock photos last year with my holiday launch and sales. More so than I normally do in non-holiday, launch, or sale weeks - because I wanted the focus of my Instagram to be about the new products, giveaways, and sale!

However, to make sure I was not being too repetitive, I sprinkled in an image from one of my November bride's weddings (Thanks Jessa from Love & Light Photographs!!) to celebrate their recent wedding, an image of a tablescape design from The School of Styling to celebrate Thanksgiving (Thanks Shay from Love The Nelsons!), and an image of me meeting the sweet Cami Monet at Remedy Coffee (I strategically wore a black and white striped top to match my Insta feed, and it just so happened that she was wearing one too, so we blended perfectly in with my brand aesthetic!). 

I also made sure to switch up the different types of styled stock photos I shared - making sure not to share the same image twice in a row. Using different layflat desktop images, upright desk images, and frame images together makes it a bit less obvious that you are using a styled stock image, yet again making the designs and images appear more lifelike in your feed!

I hope these top five tips for using SC Stockshop photos for your online shop have been helpful!! If you have any other questions about how I use Shay's photos to elevate my brand, shop, and social media, let me know! I'll either answer your question in the comments below, or do a video tutorial or another blog post if the question is more in-depth!

Thank you so much Shay for providing such incredible images for us to use, and to allow us to do business beautifully, as you would say! 

Please note: There are affiliate links in this blog post. However, I would still share this same post and recommend the SC Stockshop without being an affiliate - I truly believe in the business-changing power of her images!

How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop | A Stationery Tutorial

Design, LearningJessica PeddicordComment

Earlier this week, the SC Stockshop launched a new stationery styled stock collection with four new fall colorways. And of course, they're gorgeous!

How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop | A Stationery Tutorial | Video Tutorial by Simply Jessica Marie for SC Stockshop

If you've taken a look at the new collection, you'll notice that each photo comes in a set of 3 total files that you'll receive! 

In your set you'll receive:

  • One image with invitation paper styled in
  • One image with no paper and negative space
  • A Photoshop file containing smart objects for easy design insertion over top of the blank paper.

And that has led a lot of us to ask - what are smart objects and how can we use them?

How to Use Smart Objects in Photoshop | A Stationery Tutorial | Video Tutorial by Simply Jessica Marie for SC Stockshop

Truthfully, before the SC Stockshop stationery set launch, I didn't have much experience with smart objects! But when I opened up my first Photoshop file from their new collection and realized just how easy it was to use these smart objects - I was FLOORED! 

So of course, I knew I had to make a video tutorial showing y'all just how simple it is to use smart objects in photoshop to showcase your stationery designs! Seriously - the video is only about 5 minutes long, and it really took me a minute or less to actually create the photo! So. Simple. 

Watch below to see what I mean!

I think my favorite aspect of these smart object photo options is that the shadows cast from the paper are just so realistic! I always create drop shadows in Illustrator when I use styled stock images without smart objects (you can watch a video tutorial about that here!), but this is even more realistic looking!

I also love that I can simply use the PDF file of my stationery (remember to hide any crop or trim marks first!) rather than having to create a clipping mask of the design! Less steps needed = more time saved.

Once you've finished adding in your stationery, remember to save your file in your preferred file format! I love .png files, but you could also use a standard .jpg!

After you have your file saved, you can use it to:

  • Showcase client proofs (my couples love getting to imagine how their designs will look once they're in real life - even before we send them to print!)
  • Share the designs on social media (no worrying about having to style your own photos before you get the photos from their wedding weekend!)
  • Grow your online portfolio (these photos are SO realistic looking that they can seamlessly blend in with your portfolio!)

So friend, which photo(s) will you grab? The new collection is full of such beautiful neutral palettes that are perfect for using with a variety of client designs. There are only 10 of each photo available, and a lot of them are already almost sold out!

Here are the photos I personally bought:



I cannot wait to see which photos you grab and the gorgeous designs you display! Have a question? Comment below and I'll be happy to help!

Please note: There are affiliate links in this blog post. However, I would still share this same post and recommend the SC Stockshop without being an affiliate - I truly believe in the business-changing power of her images!

Blueberries | Color Cocktails Watercolor Tutorial

LearningJessica PeddicordComment

This week, I'm super super excited to be sharing how to mix another one of my favorite blue colors. One that I use on a weekly, if not daily, basis! We're learning how to mix navy blue paint!

Navy is such a gorgeous and classic color. It is used in so many designs, and for good reason! I am so excited for y'all to listen to the color theory section of this tutorial - because there are a couple of insights that you may not have thought of before - I know they were new to me, but make perfect sense now!

Learning to mix navy blue is going to come in so much handy for y'all as you design custom paintings and shop products. My sweet couples often request this color for their custom calligraphy vows (the number one requested color for sure!), and it is my go-to mixture to use both for men's wedding suits, and for painting jeans. It is also a great color to use in landscapes, both as accents for skies and ocean scenes. The uses are truly endless!


Want to learn watercolor alongside over 675 sweet budding artist friends? We'd love to have you!! Each Friday, I'll be teaching a 15-20 minute watercolor video tutorial. In the lessons, I cover how to mix a unique color, a bit of the psychology behind that color and how to best use it in your paintings, and I'm even sharing a quick and sweet practice piece, so you can follow along and continue painting throughout the week!




Upon signing up - you'll receive two key emails from me first, before receiving these watercolor tutorials! Because friend, I want to set you up for success before having you dive straight into painting!

The first email (which may be my fav!) includes my go-to art supplies list, with a printable shopping list! It has recommendations for my favorite paper, paint, paintbrushes, palette, etc. - along with where I love buying my supplies! In this email, you'll also get invited to our fun watercolor artist Facebook community!

The second email will include my 3 favorite tips for infusing art into your busy schedule - so you can find the perfect time to practice alongside us in our weekly practice series! I don't want to add any stress to your plate, so this guide is truly helpful for getting you started on the right foot!

Then, you'll start receiving your weekly watercolor tutorial lessons each Friday morning! I cannot wait to dive into a unique color concoction with y'all each week, and learn alongside you!


photo by the SC Stockshop

I cannot wait to see the beautiful watercolor blueberries and other paintings y'all create this week after watching our tutorials! 

 If you practice along and share on insta, make sure to use #sjmcolorcocktails and tag @simplyjessicamarie in your post, comments, or insta stories so I can see and cheer you on!!

Here's to learning together, friends!

Please note: This blog post contains affiliate links for the SC Stockshop. I absolutely adore using Shay's amazing styled stock images to enhance my brand aesthetic, and would 100% still do so without affiliate links!