Studio JKD is basically just me, Jill, and I enjoy creating things. To date, my favorite creation is Happy the Hodag and Buddy the Bulldog.

I'm a Creative Director, Designer, Illustrator and Writer living in Minneapolis, MN who was born and raised (and still pays taxes and plays) in hodag country. As a Creative Director I spend my days strategizing and creating visual experiences for the wonderful world of higher education while my evenings and weekends are spent studying, photographing and drawing all things small. I also create stories and characters for picture books and then subsequently apply those characters and pieces of that artwork to fabrics, paper and products. I call this extension of visual narrative StoryStyle™.

I just launched my third Happy the Hodag book!

Learn more at

Happy the Hodag

Who is Happy the Hodag?
There are many different depictions of hodags in my hometown of Rhinelander, WI and when I was growing up all of these hodags were shown to be mean and scary. I decided to add a new kind of hodag to the landscape and in 2006 I created Happy the Hodag to be a friendly hodag. Is he the most lovable hodag known to man? I like to think so ;)

Crafted to exhibit traditional hodag characteristics but in a more accessible style for children, Happy the Hodag stars in my first children's book Tales From The Trees which is an introduction to the hodag legend for children. I published a second Happy the Hodag book in 2007, a prequel called A Monster Misunderstanding, further expanding on and diffusing the legend of this green beast for little readers and Hodag enthusiasts.

HODAG is my third Happy the Hodag book, released in 2016 for Happy's 10th birthday, and obviously dedicated to hodags everywhere. A definite departure from my two previous books, Hodag is a book I've been thinking about for the past ten years but only finally put to paper two years ago. It was illustrated through the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016, a true labor of love, to deliver it on time for Happy the Hodag's 10th birthday. I really hope you enjoy it!

Keep up with Happy the Hodag at:

What in the world is a Hodag?
The hodag is a fictional monster said to be lumberjack lore from the near turn of the century in Northern Wisconsin. The hodag was made 'famous' by a lumber scout in the late 1800's named Gene Shepard.

Gene Shepard was a major booster of my hometown of Rhinelander, WI as it was becoming established and he was known for his sense of humor. Gene pulled a magnificent hodag centered prank on the locals and is the reason the official Rhinelander, WI mascot is in fact, a hodag.

Mishipeshu Pictograph
There is also this other entity, much older than the Rhinelander hodag that looks an awful lot like some of the early carvings of the Rhinelander hodag. Take a scroll through this post on themidwestival to learn more about the pictographs of The Great Lakes tribes hodag-like creature in and around Canada.

Hodag Shop

Keep up with Happy the Hodag, get free goodies and shop Happy books, plush toys and tees at


Jill Kuczmarski | Studio JKD

I occasionally take on freelance projects and I'm always looking for amazing designers and illustrators to add to my strategic aresenal as a Creative Director (I have a career beyond the hodag! It's true!)

If you would like to host a book signing or are hosting an event you would like Happy to be a part of, please email me at

Are you interested in carrying Happy the Hodag books and products? I would LOVE to talk with you, please email me at