About Jason Todd Elliott
Jason Todd Elliott is the founder of When You Word (WYW). Its mission is to Inspire, Ponder, Encourage and Wonder. When You Word does these things through drawings supported by infrequent writings.
Go for it
Here's a recent picture of me jumping off a cliff into Lake Norris. Starting this business feels like that sometimes, as does much of life. You don't wait at the top and get nervous, you just go for it.
Early in life, Ed Emberly books were my favorites, as they taught me simple structures to draw animals and cities. My kids all used these same books as well. You could say art is in my blood. My uncle, Richard Elliott, won a contest painting wildlife back in the 1970s. The prize for his watercolor entry was the first ever “duck stamp” in the State of Tennessee.
My mom was a first grade teacher, so school was important. And my dad’s block lettering handwriting was the most precise I’d ever seen. I found an early love for reading that was really a quest for words. I love the symmetry of words and the shape of letters. I love the new ones, like eustress, that stimulate our brain as we learn to use them and old worlds like glory and universe, that we can always ponder. Words like grit and encourage and persistence. And we can’t forget “curious”. (I still have the Curious George stuffed animal I grew up with. It’s in my youngest daughter’s bucket of stuffed animals with an owl named Owie from my wife’s childhood that is almost half a decade old now.)
What in the world do I draw
In nature, I like sunflowers and trees and grass. My high school attempts at copying Van Gogh with acrylics was mediocre at best.
So I draw words. Some call it wordart. I put a lot of contrast in them and use mainly black, white and grey colors. I have always like graffiti art as well. You will see that influence. I have also done a lot of calligraphy. Kinda strange for a man, but I hand-lettered the invitations to my own wedding!
A note on my faith
Much of my inspiration for words comes from the Bible and the sermons and books along my Christian walk. But those are not the only inspirations for me. Phrases and quotes from history provide a lot of encouragement as well. One of the biggest compliments I ever received from an agnostic co-worker who became a friend was, “you are one of the only Christians that I can talk about religion with.”
Jason and When You Word seek to find common ground that unites rather than divides, irregartless of politics, religion, class, race, gender and so forth. Art and words and beauty are a great medium to do that.
(I know irregartless is not a word. And I know that a debate exists about “irregardless”. I don’t think it is a proper word, but I love to use “irregartless” anyway (emphasis on the “t” whenever possible)).
My family, my life and my real career
Art is a side gig for me. I’ve worked in enterprise software and IT for 20+ years. You can find me and my wife, three kids and our pandemic dog, named Diego, in Franklin, TN. We are frequently at soccer and football games, as well as cross country meets cheering and coaching our kids. We also host a weekly youth group in our home as part of our church family at Church of the City.
When You Word
Inspire. Ponder. Encourage. Wonder.
LMK what you think.
You can find WhenYouWord on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.