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Welcome to my studio Athena of the Desert, Moksha Design!

My life’s work is evolving from a burned bundle ceremony in the desert and is being prepared to serve up here in small doses of inspired wit, wisdom and storytelling.

I am a social documentary artist and TV host. A Finnish, English, Canadian who was dropped from the sky in the land of cowgirls and wine with the jumbo box of crayons, colored paper and purple duct tape.

Running with scissors, sharpies and paint I ran into snakes, tarantulas, tumbleweeds and rocks. Then I added water from a monsoon flood and stirred up a dust storm with a stick made from an old mesquite tree.

This is the scene before I was air dropped:

I began drawing as soon as I could pick up a pencil. My studies focused on Scientific Illustration beginning at The University of Michigan at 11 years old, printmaking and sculpture, fabric batik, weaving and watercolor, entering my first contest in Seventeen Magazine along the same time. Photography, pen and ink, cartooning and political illustration guided my direction into publishing and journalism.

Commercial art and advertising, marketing and media became my career after my studies at The Tucson Museum of Art, University of Arizona and at Pima Community College. I was honored to meet Ansel Adams and learn from well known photographer Lou Bernal and many artists and founders of the Dinnerware Studio. In my capacity of President of ART!!! Galleries, Tucson, I was invited to Jury many shows and the Fourth Avenue Street Fair.

After accomplishing many “tours of duty” in marketing, advertising, publishing, TV and interactive media I have brought my direction to my own product design, magazine, press, book illustration, fashion, home decor and jewelry.

Art is in my blood and cellular being. My mother Linda Jesson was a fine watercolor artist featured in Tucson Newspapers “At The Galleries” in Skyline Country Club and we have both been juried members of the Southern Arizona Watercolor Society.

My great Aunt Mabel Mustonen enjoyed a lifetime of artistic accomplishment as a descendent of Finnish artists and poets and her sister, my grandmother Helen Jesson always painted and sewed many gorgeous clothes for everyone she loved. I am so happy to have both of their sculptures sitting side by side in my home.

Mabel was interviewed for the

You can view her work at Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center Archives, works on loan include paintings by Mabel V Mustonen:

My work is created by the wit and wisdom of stone ground inspiration and radical, scary good, enlightened thinking beyond the norm.

As a result of my grandfathers being a founding Director of the Michigan Health Department and former President of the Michigan Dental Society and my great grandfather being a beloved Minister, my direction has always been towards the healing that art provides. Well-being and humor is huge in my work as I combine holistic understanding, Ayurveda, laughter yoga and meditation as part of my process: The Art of Biz and Lifestyle.

Everything is being deconstructed and re-loaded for your future joy.

Watch for what is new as I open my Arizona studio, dust the dirt off the cactus and post tiny tumbleweed notes on the frig filled with ice cold beer, cold glasses and sparkling wine! I will serve you a cold one as we sit, play a puzzle, chat and share stories by the pool as the sun sets over the saguaro.

Wait! My friends told me I need to stock my frig with champagne too and I agree!

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All art and copy in my portfolio retains copyright with all reproduction rights owned by Jilly Jesson at Art By Jilly and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission in writing with payment contract to Jilly Jesson Media..

The Official Moksha Magazine Limited Editions Boutique | Book Illustrations | Storytelling | Publishing | Film | Fashion | Women To Watch Arizona Art |

XOXO Jilly
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  • Joined: August 2015



Stellar launch today from Elon Musk, / The view spectacular from SpaceX at dusk, / Beyond what you know, / New science is in the flow, / The art of tech merges with a thrust! / Limericks and Wit by Author and Artist Jilly Jesson Smyth / “Silly Jilly” Copyright 2018 / All Rights Reserved
Posted 9 months – Leave a comment


Change is why I am inspired by a new shift to humanism in art. According to art history, women have always been forward thinking in creating a philosophy that affirms all people’s rights to be free to reflect their heart’s desires. / Renaissance thinking is what helped raise the status of women in art, now I believe it is what will help guide us in the new millenium to raise up all pe…
Posted over 1 year – Leave a comment
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