The theme of the winter issue (out in January) is "the creation and modification of surface". In this issue, there will be profiles of modern weavers and tapestry artists, how graphic design informs quilt design, using scraps/scavenging materials, flea market treasures, the history of vintage feedsacks and their contemporary reuse, plus 'tattooed artists’ profiles with illustrators, crafters, artists who have tattoos.
I'm excited to share that Andrea D’Aquino will be creating the illustration for the cover. My vision is that each copy will have a swatch of authentic patterned vintage feedsack fabric adhered to the front cover. It will be a random square, applied by hand, enhancing Andrea’s collage artwork and providing both a nod to the content within and also the theme of modification of surface. I love the element of chance in the design as well, since the colour and pattern of the feedsack is an unknown variable. It’ll be gorgeous, exciting, random and unique!
I’ve scored some feedsacks on eBay (photos above), but I’d love your help. We will need thousands of squares (roughly 1.25” square) to ensure that each cover has this special feature. In the spirit of old-fashioned quilting bees, let’s make this into an UPPERCASE community project. If you have some feedsacks scraps that you’re willing to spare, please cut them into 1.25” squares and mail them to me by November 30.
I’m also going to save at least one square from each reader-submitted package, which will be incorporated into a quilt!
Send your squares by November 30 to:
UPPERCASE publishing inc
Suite 201b - 908 17 AVE SW
CALGARY AB CANADA T2T 0A3
This is a nice time in the cycle of the magazine… subscribers around the world are experiencing the joy of receiving the new issue in their mailbox. Thank you for sharing your excited tweets and beautiful Instagrams—not only do I enjoy seeing how the magazine fits into your daily life, but this 'social proof’ is vital in sharing the magazine to potential new readers in an authentic way. A magazine is only as good as its community of readers and you are the most valuable part of the entire UPPERCASE equation. I am grateful to have such an appreciative audience.
My hope is that the quality of content, level of inspiration, professional advancement and personal creative development offered by a year of UPPERCASE far exceeds the monetary cost of the subscription. When I hear stories about subscribers taking time out of a hectic day to spend quality time with a new issue (and your appreciation of the inky aroma), of connections and collaborations between readers, of the joy at being featured, or artists getting commissions and professional opportunities by being its pages, this is the kind of value that can’t be measured. This is the best kind, because it's from the heart.
In creating a physical product, there are always cost considerations for its production. When designing the current issue, I knew it would be fairly monochromatic—including the cover. Seb Lester’s calligraphic grocery list was conceptually the perfect fit, but it is a departure from UPPERCASE’s usually colourful covers. I wanted to add a little special something to give the cover some more pizazz… and with calligraphy nibs, silver spoons and heraldic shields as themes within the issue, a silver foil was meant to be. In fact, having a metallic spine is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time—UPPERCASE’s patterned spines are inspired by classic Little Golden Book’s signature gold-foiled spines.
Using a foil is an added expense; it requires making a die and running the cover through another press after the colour run. At a total cost of $2,215, I weighed the pros and cons and decided it was worth it. Not only is the metallic spine accomplishing one of my dreams on my design bucket list, it definitely adds to the cover appeal. For readers discovering the magazine in a stockist’s display its silver flash is eye-catching. And for subscribers receiving the magazine at home, it’s a special treat to see something different.
Producing a simple issue of UPPERCASE is expensive—the equivalent of buying a luxury vehicle every quarter! Issue 23 cost $37,561.82 in print production and freight, plus another $6000 in mail prep and postage to send the magazine to subscribers worldwide. That’s a huge investment and one that I make four times a year. I’m proud of the fact that in six years of the magazine, I’ve been able to pay my print bills consistently. To be sure, it is stressful to be faced with such expenses—and certainly it has been a challenge and a matter of juggling to make it work—but I love making this magazine.
Long live print!
Did you know that UPPERCASE's spines were originally inspired by Little Golden Books? I've always loved their eye-catching golden spines and wanted my magazine to have a similar recognizable shelf presence, even when displayed spine out. Using a silver foil for issue 23's spine brings that idea full circle. It's nice when childhood inspirations still apply to your adult life!
It is always nice to hear from readers and discover how the magazine inspires them in ways I couldn't have imagined. Recently, Melissa Watts from the UK got in touch. She was one of the 100 artists included in the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide earlier this year in issue #21.
Melissa writes, "I'd just like to thank you again for choosing me to be part of the Surface Pattern Guide earlier this year. You'll be pleased to know that one of my three designs featured, has recently been purchased by a Belgium baby wear company, which is my first pattern sale and a big thrill for me (I haven't actually properly launched myself as a pattern designer yet so it was a lovely bonus/surprise). They had actually seen the guide and kept me in mind for their A/W 15 range."
"Whilst I was learning surface pattern design earlier in the year, I was playing and experimenting a lot. It didn't matter what it was—I would just play. This is where UPPERCASE came in. I had, at this point discovered your magazine and couldn't help myself take your logo....and play!"
I'm so happy that UPPERCASE inspired Melissa to experiment... and led to her first licensed surface pattern.
Do you have an Etsy store that you'd like me to include on my Etsy pages? Tweet your shop name and url to @uppercasemag or leave it in the comments below.
New Craft Coalition was founded by three enterprising women crafters, Kari Woo, Laura Sharp and Natalie Gerber. "We are makers, moms, entrepreneurs and firm believers in the power of art, craft and design to change not only our communities, but the world. Our current mission is to bring a carefully curated collection of independently produced, Canadian art, craft and design to the people of Calgary twice annually, with other plans unfolding all the time!"
Laura Sharp, above, creates her wares under the name White Owl Ceramic Studio. Her work is distinct with her graphic black and white, hints of turquoise and love of birch motifs. "I mostly attend art and fine craft shows and sell my work to an audience already won over by the greatness of handmade objects. I enjoy meeting all the people who have invested in my work, their feedback, encouragement, and support has been absolutely priceless. I look forward to many more years of growing, developing and dreaming."
Kari Woo's jewellery is a study in simplicity and quality. Kari used to co-own INFLUX Jewellery, one of my neighbours in the former Art Central. She has since moved to Canmore with her family and makes things from her home-based studio.
"In 1993 the I found the art of jewellery making, literally by accident," says Kari. "While recovering from a serious snowboarding injury I enrolled in my first jewellery class on a whim. It was love at first make! Now, two decades later, I am still at it and I still love it. My aim is to create substance and meaning through design. Patrons know my work through two distinct collections of sterling silver jewellery that offer the wearer versatility, comfort and simplicity."
Natalie Gerber designs home wares and hand bags using her own surface pattern designs. You might recognize her from the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide (issue 21) and I also photographed her and her studio back in issue 13.
"As an artist, designer and maker I am inspired to create functional design for everyday living. While craftsmanship is important to my creative process, so too is function. I combine my love for illustration, surface design, clean lines and hand-printed fabrics with conscious material choices and in-studio practices.
My South African background influences my aesthetic, while inspiration is drawn from styles that include Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern design. From detailed sketches to mark making and loose line drawings, I explore the above within my work and transfer the imagery onto textiles through silkscreen printing."
The show opens today at 4pm at the Festival Hall in Inglewood. I'll be there with the latest issue of UPPERCASE plus some good deals on back issues and other print products. See you there!
I am interested in pottery with personality, beauty, and attitude. The marks of process, the slight distortion or off-round from a gentle hand, or the fingerprints on glaze and slip are all a part of the language with which my pots exclaim, "I was not machine-made, I was not mass-produced, I was made by fingers and hands, in a small studio, by an artist listening to music, dreaming and making." Because in a time of mass-production, consumer culture and waste, the handmade object brings us back to the intimacy of human nature.
Kalika Bowlby is a ceramicist living in Nelson, British Columbia who will be bringing her wares to Calgary for the New Craft show. (How perfect is her name, for a potter?)
"I love living in a small mountain town but visiting big, bustling cities. I wish I could ride my bike every day, make every meal feel like a celebration and that each thing I make would be better than the last.I feel blessed to be both a mother and maker, to use my hands to make and share objects that become part of others lives. Hopefully, these objects will survive the ebb and flow of life because I think that things get better with age, use and understanding."
Juliana Rempel is another ceramicist showing and selling at New Craft Coalition this Friday and Saturday. About her work, Juliana writes:
Recognizing ceramics undeniable connection to life, the home and to the mundane activities of our everyday, I look for potential in these objects as registers of information and as the archetypes of our lives. We are comfortable with ceramics as both a material and as an object, allowing permission for it to become part of our personal space. This established relationship we have developed, holds the potential to be taken out of a comfortable home context and disjointed, dislocated and to be re-introduced as something other then utilitarian.
In a gallery, ceramics becomes a representation of the objects that are the silent bystanders of our lives, the symbols of our day. By dislocating our expectations of them, questioning our understanding of them and utilizing them for their symbolic value I introduce these objects in a gallery context, ultimately questioning our understanding of ceramics and bridging the gap between art and life.
From a young age, I developed an appreciation for materials and an awareness of how things were put together. I grew up around handmade objects, in a culture where things were used and re-used. Materials were recycled to create something new. Fences were mended, sweaters darned, old shirts and dressed made into quilts. When I travelled through third world countries I was always struck by the innovative ways things were repaired and everyday materials were re-purposed to extend the life of something that would otherwise be discarded.
One of the constants throughout my practice has been combining print-making techniques with ceramic processes, primarily pattern and imagery. Recently I have been bringing mixed materials into my pieces, particularly re-used materials. In both cases I am particularly interested in components that have had a past-life or for the narrative quality they construe. In addition they add texture and richness to the pieces. Re-contextualizing these elements also gives them new meaning and elicits new appreciation from the user.
The forms I use are usually wheel-thrown. The surfaces are developed by building up layers of print including basic mono-printing techniques when the clay in wet, in-glaze or laser decals after the pieces are glazed and repurposed commercial decals to finish off the piece and provide one more layer of complexity, beauty and nostalgia.
I have a 'thing' for following ceramicists on Instagram. I love seeing all the works lined up pre and post-firing. Follow Cathy here.
My friends Louisa and James Jensen will be at NCC this Friday and Saturday. Check out this great "about" page to get to know them and their company, Rabbet. They make "happy art for happy homes" with illustrated cards and art poster prints. Their art is cute and quirky, but always genuine—just like James and Louisa!
From Carole's website: "Her line of functional work explores narrative and whimsy. Inspired by the chaos, the noise, the blur, the wonder, and the creativity of life with two small boys at home. She started making dishes for her first son as an aside to the functional pottery she was already making and now years later it plays a huge part of her studio practice. The dishes illustrate storybook images that can insight smiles and memories for young and old alike."
How cute is this face? It's a creation by Erin Weiss from Saskatoon, who will be heading to Calgary this week for the New Craft Coalition show.
"I have always been creative — I love drawing, design, painting, rearranging my house, crochet, cutting and pasting, you get the idea. My mom taught me how to sew when I was was young, but I specifically remember balking at the idea of using patterns — I always wanted to make my own version of everything. Sewing machines came in and out of my life, and along the way I made a lot of oddly constructed fabric gifts for friends and clothes for myself. But I was learning to love fabric — the patterns and colours and the fact that a good trip to the fabric store could totally make my day. It all started to come together when I was first introduced to the idea of soft sculpture while in school for a Fine Arts degree. I saw it as the perfect way to bring my drawings of little people and wild creatures into something you could hold.
After my first child was born I began making and selling children's clothing, and I called my little business boolah baguette — after a favoured childhood doll that was named by my dad and I. With this new creative outlet I let myself experiment once again with cloth dolls and plush creatures of all sorts. I both smile and cringe when I see those original dolls - eyes and arms at odd angles. In my fourth year of doll making I feel like I have come a long way. I take in all sorts of inspiration and the dolls change with the seasons and with my creative needs. It is what I love best about what I do.
I love making these dolls and it is a huge part of my life. At this point boolah baguette is still a one-woman show, and I make each unique doll in my home studio. My time to create is short and sweet, in the middle of raising a young family. I am drawn to natural fabrics like wool and cotton, but I am also quite fond of a super plush fleece or luxurious faux fur. I create by feel and can't stop until I feel like I've finished something that falls into the 'ridiculously cute' category."
It's the Thanksgiving long weekend here in Canada, so other than an hour or so of checking in on my emails and subscription requests today, I'm taking the day off! My folks were in town, so we had some time at Heritage Park this weekend—always my favourite getaway within in the city. It's nice to step back in time. (Check out this amazing wallpapered house at Heritage Park. Surface pattern everywhere!)
This Friday and Saturday is the New Craft Coalition craft fair. I'll be there with the latest issue plus other paper goodies! Leading up to the event, I'll be introducing you to some of the artists and artisans exhibiting at NCC.
Van Charles: "I'm an artist with a crazy profound love for nature and being in the outdoors. As a kid I spent all my time running around wandering along the rivers edge, swimming in lakes and climbing mountains. Today nothing has changed. This video takes you on a road trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains while describing my process as a visual artist."
See this artist at the New Craft Coalition in Calgary. Friday, October 17 and Saturday, October 18.
You can pick up a nice collection of UPPERCASE magazines, including the current issue, at Brick and Mortar Living in British Columbia. Brick and Mortar is "a quaint little shop in the heart of historic downtown New Westminster, filled with local designs, unique gifts and nostalgia for the home" whose mission is to "bring a sense of community, warmth and merriment to the adventure we call shopping." I love independent shops like this! Go visit them this weekend if you can.
For a stockist near you, please check this list. If you'd like to recommend a shop or would like to stock UPPERCASE, please be in touch!
Kristina was the cover artist for issue 15 a few years ago. Here's an excerpt from our article:
This is no ordinary production line: skewers of freshly painted wooden beads pierce magazine stacks and finished necklaces hang from any available hooks or frame corners of the room. It is awash with vibrant colours, almost as if someone had popped open a fantastical bottle of champagne, its bubbles filling the room with pictorial joy.
Beyond the immediate sensory overload, one rapidly notices the subtle elegance behind each colour combination. There is not a single faux pas as colours marry each other and respond to each other but never clash with each other. This is a delicate exercise in assembling the right shapes with the right hues, one that Kristina Klarin excels in.
Born in Belgrade and now living in Milan, Kristina has always been a colour enthusiast, and her experiences with cultural cross-pollination have helped shaped her take on it. Her home country, Serbia, was historically located at the crossroads of different cultures, and it is there that she believes she gained the ability to use colours in bold, unpredictable ways, as well as appreciate “the beauty from spontaneously mixing different aesthetic influences in a more casual way,” she says. On the other hand, her Italian education and professional experiences urged her to focus more on details—“on perfection,” she muses. “I started designing when I was very young. My passion for it brought me first to study textile design at high school and then drove me all the way to Italy where I graduated in fashion design,” she explains. “It’s indeed in Milan that right after my graduation I started working as a fashion designer. Over the years I saw myself shifting from sartorial and elaborated pieces of clothing to more basic, neat designs with a strong focus on their graphical composition and a flair for striking and eloquent details and accessory.”
Discovered via the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair (on this weekend in Manchester), Andy Poplar of Vinegar and Brown Paper takes a simple idea and executes it well. Etching labels onto glass objects such as inkwells, apothecary bottles, decanters and mirrors, he adds a bit of cheekiness to ordinary things.
"I spend my days working at a desk with a Remington typewriter and a 1940s Bakelite telephone on it. The phone will never ring, the ink on the typewriter ribbon has long faded out — but there they sit — one a stand for my iPhone, the other used for holding paper. New ways of looking at old things — it’s a theme in all my work I guess."
Read more from Andy on the Ernest Journal website.
The fall issue has arrived! Draped in its silver foil spine, and complemented by an understated but dramatic colour palette throughout, it is certainly a visual departure from the full spectrum approach of the summer issue. As curator of the magazine—and as art director / graphic designer—I felt like I needed a bit of a palate cleanser after the full-on exuberance of issue 22. So issue 23 offers something a bit darker, a bit simpler… but just as delicious! Like a crème brulé or a café au lait for dessert.
The reason I loved Seb Lester's grocery list for the cover is that it demonstrates the commitment required to master penmanship—even composing a mundane list is an opportunity to practice. There’s the popular saying that “practice makes perfect”. Certainly as you view the amazing displays of calligraphic talent in this issue that adage might ring in your ears… there’s no way any of these letterers and calligraphers could have achieved their level of ability without countless hours of practice. But does it make them perfect? No. Not at all. No one is perfect and no one’s creative output is perfect.
UPPERCASE content is selected and designed to be inspirational… there’s no doubt that after reading through this issue, you’ll want to pick up a calligraphy pen. But if you’re new or rusty, let me tell you want will happen… your first letters are going to be terrible! Your calligraphic aspirations will not flow effortlessly from the nib. Your hand will cramp and your letters will be awkward. Frustrated, you’ll inevitably compare your writing to what is displayed in this issue. But don’t despair! Come back to it the next day and try again. I guarantee that you’ll be a better calligrapher. And the day after that, you’ll be three times as good.
After creating 23 issues of UPPERCASE, it is still very far from perfect. There's a big list of things I want to try, redesigns I want to initiate, column ideas waiting in the wings. Budgetary and time constraints that affect what I can do... And there's probably a lurking typo or something that I missed. But each issue shows a lot of what I've learned over the years—and even things I've learned since the last issue came out in July. That's what I like to focus on. Practice makes progress.
Everything takes practice. The goal isn’t perfection.