CREATIVE HEROES: Jonathan Palmisano

15 06 2016

Jonathan’s creative reputation as The Lunchbox Doodle Guy preceded my getting to know him. I’ve since learned he’s funny and is always up for an adventure. He’s someone you can count on and his son is his top priority. I admire that he has managed to combine his creativity with parenting. He is a Creative Hero.

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Jonathan was always drawing as a child and always felt love and support from his parents. He became very good at drawing dinosaurs, sharks and monster trucks. While his love for dinosaurs was strong, he also knew from early on that he probably wasn’t going to pursue a career as a paleontologist. He has a sweet memory of his mom putting hand-written notes in his lunchbox. Looking back he doesn’t remember the specific messages, but remembers the love and connection it gave him. When he became a father he wanted to give his son something similar. He began drawing cartoons on his son’s lunchbox napkins when his son was too young to read.

His son is now nine and feels that creative connection to his dad every day. He now saves those napkins from his lunchbox and brings them home for his napkin collection. Jonathan plans to continue the tradition as long as his son wants him to.

Jonand napkins

Jonathan believes it’s the small things that make a difference. It’s also small steps that take us on unexpected journeys. It was after a friend’s encouragement that Jonathan started posting his napkins online. He was surprised by the enthusiastic response and discovered other parents who wanted to share their similar connections. He now communicates with a creative community of parents from around the world. In another unexpected turn, the lunchbox doodles will be featured at an upcoming gallery opening.

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A sampling of favorite napkins

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Jonathan’s son’s napkin drawing

This dad draws, paints and plays music. Being creative is in the marrow of his bones. He nurtures his own creativity and shares it with his son. They play music together, as well as video games. They go to art galleries and love to do collaborative drawing, where they take turns drawing where ever their imaginations lead them. I see gentle parenting with Jonathan and his son. He asks his son’s opinion, he listens and he guides. And I see a child who is thriving.

It is indeed the small things that matter. Parenting is hard. When we are in the midst of child-rearing and working—that day in and day out chore of getting the must-do’s done—it is a challenge to find the time to take care of our own creativity. I celebrate my friend for finding a way to infuse parenting with his unique creative spirit. He and his son are living fully creative lives. That’s why Jonathan Palmisano is a Creative Hero.

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