Put a typewriter on it, Portland.

I'm on my way to Portland later this week and I'd love to see you at some UPPERCASE events this Saturday, October 10 and Sunday, October 11. 

First up is the Typewriter Jam at the Independent Publishing Resource Centre from 4-8pm. See lots of beautiful machines, explore some artifacts, type some letters and connect with fellow collectors at this free event. I'll be there with The Typewriter book for sale. If you are planning on purchasing a book in person, let me know and I'll bring a special vintage ad just for you! I'll have other goodies for UPPERCASE readers, too, whatever fits in my suitcase... which I have yet to pack.

Then, at 7-9pm at the same venue, the IPRC and I are hosting an UPPERCASE party. There's a brand-new issue to celebrate, a chance to pull your own letterpress print, food and drink... and I encourage you to bring your portfolio or crafts or other creative endeavours that you'd like to share with me and fellow readers. I love seeing what people are making and doing! You could be featured in a future issue.

On Sunday at 7pm at Shattuck Hall, I'll be doing a presentation about The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. Tickets are $10, available here. If you're planning on getting a book on Sunday, if you can let me know in advance, I'll make sure to reserve one for you along with a vintage ad. 

Have a good week and I hope to see you this weekend!

Learn with Molly Hatch

So many UPPERCASE contributors and featured artists are teaching online classes these days so I've rounded up learning opportunities that will enhance the content you've discovered in UPPERCASE magazine. Just go to the "classes" tab in the navigation above to see more.

Molly Hatch has a new online course that launches today! (But you can start anytime.) I'll let Molly tell you about it:

Are you taking ceramic classes for fun and looking for some new surface techniques? Are you an art teacher looking for good techniques to share with your students? Are you new to ceramics and looking for fun ways to create surfaces in clay? Do you own my New Ceramic Surface Design book and are looking for video tutorials that compliment the projects in the book? Then this is the right class for you!

This 5-week online workshop will begin September 29th, 2015 with an open ongoing enrolment. This online workshop uses Molly Hatch's book New Ceramic Surface Design as a text to cover a wide range of surface design techniques for ceramics. Working at your own pace, each week for 5 weeks, participants will have access to an online demonstration video for new techniques, downloads of worksheets, templates and recipes as well as a second video each week featuring an interview with artists featured in the book about their artwork and the techniques they use. This workshop is great for anyone who has clay basics and is ready to make some exciting surfaces! Once you have enrolled in this workshop, you will have continued access, (forever!) there is no end to the learning!

With a basic knowledge of ceramics, this class will help you push to the next level with ways to approach the ceramic surface!

HOW IT WORKS: Working at your own pace, each week for 5 weeks, participants will have access to an online demonstration video for new techniques. Each week there are downloads, artwork templates and recipes as well as a second video featuring an interview with artists such as Lisa Congdon and Ben Carter.  Most of the artists interviewed are featured in my book and will talk about their careers, what inspires them and how they use the techniques demonstrated each week in their own studio practice.

Visit Molly's website for more details. Sign up here.

Win a spot in The Ultimate Portfolio Builder! (Comments Closed)

See the winner here.

Together with our friends at Make it in Design, we are offering a very special prize to ONE very lucky reader - one free place on the next The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course worth $895 (£579).

Places on this course are strictly limited and are highly sought after, but one person from this competition will be guaranteed a place! 

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder is an advanced seven-week online professional surface pattern design course, consisting of an intense five-week class followed by two weeks of design reviews. The classroom is accessible 24/7 so you can join from anywhere in the world, and fit the course into your busy life.

This powerful course will give you all the tools and advice you need to grow, refine and strengthen your professional design portfolio, make your designs more sellable and give you the fast-track to trade show success.

Brought to you in association with Printsource, one of the top surface and textile design shows in the world, this course will provide you with exclusive insight to help you secure the right buyers for your work, deal effectively with clients, get trade show ready and discover the secrets to landing your dream work. Plus one lucky person on the course will win a free booth at Printsource Aug 2016 and $1,000 to get you to New York! 

Course alumni have gone on to launch their own design studios, win national awards, be featured in design books, on leading blogs and more. Fancy a bit of this action too? Read on to find out how to enter.

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder includes:

  • Five weeks of exceptional in-depth teaching on subject matter (objects, characters, nature, geometrics, typography and abstract), colour and media, the power of recolouring, designing for occasions, genre and style, audience and market and so much more

  • A series of advanced design challenges to help you grow as a designer and build a strong, rounded portfolio

  • An array of LIVE briefs from real companies looking to sign the next big talent – is it you?

  • A series of video based technical masterclasses from guest designers on typography, characters, photography, mixed media collages and more, to hone your professional design skills

  • Invaluable individual work reviews from Rachael Taylor, Janine Burrows and Khristian A. Howell

  • Insight into the practicalities of managing a growing design studio

  • Trade show planning advice direct from Printsource New York

  • Opportunity to put questions to Rachael Taylor

  • 90 days’ free access to the top trend forecasting site WGSN


  • One lucky person on the course will win a free booth at Printsource New York, August 2016 and $1,000 towards the cost of travel to the show

  • An incredible four-part creative brief from Printsource to help you attract the clients you want and the kind of work you dream of

  • Bonus material on managing your finances, how to be your own career strategist and thinking outside the box

  • Access to a huge library of textures to give your work depth and distinction

  • Access to exclusively styled room set images ready-made for you to render your designs on

  • A selection of colour palettes intended to help you push your colour choices

  • And a whole lot more – this course really is jam-packed full of goodness!


The prize: ONE place on The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course starting September 21, 2015, delivered on-line.

How to enter: 

Check out the course website to find out more about it, then come back to this post and leave a comment with a link to your website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so that we can contact you and write in no more than 50 words why this course would benefit you right now and how it could transform your design career.

Deadline: 5pm GMT on Friday September 18, 2015. Any comments left after this time will not be counted. 

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: This competition is to win a place on The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course from Make it in Design starting September 21, 2015. One entry allowed per person. The winning place is not transferrable – either by date or to another individual and must not be sold on and no cash alternative will be offered in the event that the winner is unable to use the prize for any reason. By entering this competition you agree to your entry to be promoted on the Uppercase and Make it in Design website and their associated social networks. The winner will be jointly selected by Janine Vangool and Rachael Taylor and announced by Sunday September 20. The judges’ decision is final.

Go to CAMP with Aaron Draplin!

The magnanimous Aaron Draplin is coming to town!

I've had the pleasure of meeting Aaron a couple of times now, most recently at the How conference in Chicago this past May where we were both speakers. I think it is safe to say that we are polar opposites when it comes to presentation style. Me: small, soft-spoken, trepidatious... while Draplin commands the room with his gregarious, entertaining and heart-felt delivery style. His presentations are AWESOME (he'll bring tears to your eyes) and I am happy that's he's delivering the love once again at this month's CAMP Festival in Calgary, September 21-22.

You can also get some time with Draplin and his design expertise in an afternoon workshop entitled "Logo Tips, Tricks, Triumphs, Turds, Threats and Tales from the DDC" on Sunday, September 20th. The fee is $150 and I'm sure you'll find it was well spent. Sign up now while there's still room!

UPPERCASE is involved in quite a few local events in the coming months. I'm sponsoring CAMP by giving away free magazines in the goodie bags!

Now let's step back a few years when Draplin was last speaking in Calgary. UPPERCASE writer Brendan Harrison interviewed him for issue 16:

Aaron Draplin photographed by Heather Saitz in the Lion's Den, Calgary 2012

Aaron Draplin photographed by Heather Saitz in the Lion's Den, Calgary 2012

Aaron Draplin is an American archetype, a kid from a small town in Michigan who moved west to become a self-made man. His pursuit of happiness led him to the American dream after his search for good times and deep powder put him on a path to becoming one of the best-known graphic designers of our time.

His love affair with thick line logos and Futura Bold began while he was still living hand to mouth in Bend, Oregon. His first design job was a graphic for Solid snowboards, but he was soon picking up work lettering café signs and designing logos for local businesses. This early taste of design success spurred him on to see if he had the chops to play with the big boys. To find out, he signed on for a degree in graphic design from the Minneapolis College of Art + Design. After graduating in 2000, he started to make his mark in the design world, doing a stint art directing Snowboarder Magazine before taking a senior design role at a big studio in Portland. 

Throughout it all, he continued to design personal projects that were close to his heart. In August 2004, he quit his full-time job and hung his shingle as the Draplin Design Co. In the years since, he’s worked for clients as large as Nike and the Obama administration and as small as the Cobra Dogs hotdog cart. And while a lesser designer would have enjoyed some much needed rest, Draplin co-founded Field Notes and transformed the way hipsters everywhere scribble down their ideas.

The phrase larger-than-life comes to mind when talking about Draplin, not because of his imposing physique but because of his oversize personality. On his recent Tall Tales from a Large Man speaking tour, he travelled the country holding audiences captive for hours with little more than a profane PowerPoint presentation and a gift for the gab.

On the day of his visit to Calgary, I pick him up from the lobby of a Best Western. He’s been working in his room all morning. We pile into my truck and drive to a diner on the outskirts of downtown, a place with taxidermy on the wall, ashtrays in the washroom and golden oldies on the jukebox. It’s the kind of place where Draplin seems right at home.

Writer Brendan Harrison and UPPERCASE publisher Janine Vangool have a chat with Aaron Draplin. Calgary, 2012. Photo by Heather Saitz.

Writer Brendan Harrison and UPPERCASE publisher Janine Vangool have a chat with Aaron Draplin. Calgary, 2012. Photo by Heather Saitz.

We sidle into a booth and order breakfast. I turn on my recorder and plant it in front of him, opening my notebook to a page of questions I’d jotted down the night before. I ask him where we should start. “Wherever you want man, wherever you want. I can talk, man. So don’t be afraid to be like, hey, chill out a little bit.”

Photo by Heather Saitz.

Photo by Heather Saitz.

I do no such thing. I’m happy to play the part of passive participant in our conversation, sitting back to enjoy his rambling replies. His stories meander and digress in the most enjoyable way, revealing plainspoken wisdom and insight into the life of a creative professional. Throughout our discussion, Draplin comes across as something of a cultural magpie, a life-long junker who figured out a way to incorporate his love for old memo books and ration tins into a signature visual style.

“As a designer, I always had an appreciation for old stuff,” he says. “Not in the sense of it’s like a movie prop – because I get a lot of that too. Kids are like, what are you, some kind of sentimentalist or something? I’ll take that word and run with it, no problem. I mean, what are you, a futurist? I’d rather look back at the restraint and try to use that in my new work. Using one colour effectively. Making a killer logo… There’s just a sense of like, that stuff’s on the way out and I don’t want it to go away.”

Aaron Draplin in the Lion's Den, Calgary, 2012. Photo by Heather Saitz.

Aaron Draplin in the Lion's Den, Calgary, 2012. Photo by Heather Saitz.

Read the full article in UPPERCASE issue 16. And if you're in Calgary, please make a point of coming to CAMP and participating in Aaron Draplin's workshop. Other workshops on offer:

Learn How to Draw (Better) in One Day With Yuko Shimizu
Sunday, September 20th, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Going Digital: Bridging the Gap
With Edward Keeble, David Nagy, Marc Binkley
Sunday, September 20th, 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM

As well as a programming workshop for kids.

Calling Card: All Aboard with Jasmine Jimenez

A couple of years ago, I was invited to speak at the AIGA San Diego Y Conference. I met lots of really nice people and one of them was conference administrator Jasmine Jimenez (she was impressively organized!) Thanks to her, I had a great experience.

Jasmine recently got in touch to support UPPERCASE magazine through a Peep and a Calling Card—both will be appearing in the Fall issue. (That's issue #27 which is off to print today and will be released by October 1.) The funds received from Calling Cards and other advertisements go directly to paying contributor fees, so thank you to Jasmine and my other Calling Card advertisers for supporting fine content for fall. You can see them all on the blog sidebar—please click through and discover their talents and services.

I'll let Jasmine take it away from here:

Hi, My Name is Jasmine, and I believe Essential Oils are the answer that many people are looking for, whether they are aware of it or not. I make light of 'jumping on the oily train', but you should know, that once your ride begins your wellness destination is just a few stops away. Just like the train needs the track to move forward, our bodies need a stable infrastructure to function well. Without well-balanced systems, our bodies may want to give out on us. It doesn't matter which side of the ‘health tracks’ you have lived on in the past, you can always take the small steps over to the wellness side. Essential Oils and oil infused products will act as your boarding pass to a healthier non-toxic way of living for you, your family (kids too!) and your friends. 

I choose essential oils because I believe there is always another way. The "possible" side effect on every single label is what prevents me from buying medicine, accepting a prescription and from having faith that the neatly designed box of the shelf is magical in any way.

After you enrol, a transition will begin to happen. I know because it happens to all of us. You will realize you've stopped shopping at the store for the brand items your have in your home today. Your home will feel cleaner without all of the cleaning products. You will realize that you feel better each and every day. Your instinct about how to use essential oils will start to kick-in, and they will begin to feel as natural to you as they are to our Mother Earth.

You can find me at oil-relief.com and we can start your journey to feeling better today!

TypeCon 2015: Highlights

This guest post is by TypeCon correspondents Almenia Candis and Allie McRae.


From Almenia:

TypeCon 2015 was definitely an experience that I wish was not over in so few days. Not only did I make new friends, rub elbows with giants in the graphic design and typography circles, but I had a wonderful experience learning more and feeling like I was in university again.

I was fortunate to take the expressive brush lettering workshop with calligrapher Stephen Rapp. In this day-long workshop, we were provided with supplies, a few notes, and one on one demonstrations on how to achieve a variety of calligraphy strokes. So many questions were asked, and Stephen provided excellent tips and feedback on pressure, ink flow, and chair position to yield beautiful results.

If you weren't able to go to a workshop, there was still a chance to try your hand at cranking out some letterpress around metro Denver. There were 30 of us on the party bus as we made a series of stops to add pieces to our letterpress sheets. It may have been the only field trip that was educational, fun, and involved free brews while mingling with the very gracious hosts at Matter, Genghis Kern, Foil + Dies, and Now It's Up To You Press.

Last but not least, there was a brief eulogy presented by Akira Kobayashi for Hermann Zapf who passed away in June this year. Akira tells of his early days as a graphic designer, he was given the book "About Alphabets" and it has remained a great source of inspiration to the care and meticulous process of Zapf's typefaces and calligraphy work. Creator of fonts such as Optima and Palatino, Zapf's work surpasses trends and his legacy will continue to set an example for new type designers of tomorrow.

From Allie:

It’s tough to pick just three highlights! There were so many spectacular speakers and events that I enjoyed, but I managed to narrow it down to these:

Douglas Wilson gave this great, lighthearted talk on ‘The Beautiful Island of San Serriffe,’ a completely fictional island that made its debut in an April Fool’s edition of The Guardian, a British newspaper. The newspaper dedicated seven pages of articles to this island that included news of its culture, geography, and economy. The island is jam-packed with hilarious typesetting puns: Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse are the names of the two islands; Gill Sands Beach; and the dictator of San Serriffe is General M J Pica. I was laughing through the entire talk. Here’s an article about the prank.

The very first speaker of the program, Mary Mashburn, set the bar high with her talk titled ‘Life Lessons from Globe Poster.’ Countless jazz, blues, and go-go musicians came to Globe Poster in Baltimore to have them design and print their show posters. The Globe Poster Collection is now housed at MICA and students are in the process of sorting through and using the thousands of pieces of type to make new pieces.

And finally, I was very inspired by the works of Ernst Schneidler and his students that Rob Saunders shared with us. Ernst was an influential teacher of letter arts in the 20th century and now much of his work is housed at Letterform Archive, founded by Rob.

UPPERCASE provided complimentary magazines for attendees. Thank you to TypeCon for in turn providing passes to these two correspondents. Want to subscribe to UPPERCASE? Use the code "typecon15" for a subscription discount. Code expires on September 1.

TypeCon 2015: Type of Place

Guest Post by Allie McRae, TypeCon 2015

The speaker I had been waiting for all TypeCon weekend finally made her way up to the stage first thing Sunday morning. Meta Newhouse was my professor for a couple years at Montana State University and we got to know each other very well during a semester abroad in Italy, where she taught Experimental Typography. Even though I have a personal relationship with Meta and was even a contributor to the Type of Place project at its start, her talk went into detail about the parts that I wasn’t involved in: how the project came about and where it is now.

A little background about Type of Place — This research project was started by Meta and her former colleague at Montana State University, Nathan Davis. Meta and Nathan were teaching a workshop at the Atypi Conference held in Reykjavik, Iceland in 2011 when they had a brilliant idea to trek around the city and take photos of native Icelandic type to take back to the classroom to analyze. They were looking to see if they could deduce any cultural characteristics unique to the area from the type specimens they found. Meta puts it more eloquently: “What can be learned from collecting, archiving, comparing, and sharing typography from different parts of the world?”

A year after Atypi, Meta was still thinking about this question and was brainstorming ways that her and Nathan could grow the database of type, preferably from locations around the world. We were in Italy at the time and were the perfect guinea pigs for Type of Place. Between 15 of us students, we took hundreds of photos of type while wandering the streets of Rome. Meta and Nathan took those photos back to Iceland for DesignMarch 2012 to compare them with the collection from Iceland.

One of the catalysts to this whole typographic investigation stemmed from Geert Hofstede’s Dimensions of National Culture. After reading this, Meta thought she could take one of the six dimensions of culture, particularly Masculinity vs. Femininity, to make a connection between this idea and the type specimens. As it turned out, while comparing Hungary with Iceland, Hungary’s type was heavy on the serifs, making it feel commandeering and patriarchal. Iceland, on the other hand, had an abundance of softer sans-serifs that felt more tender and modern. Type of Place was on to something.

Fast forward now to the present day — Type of Place is growing to include more and more collections of vernacular type from places like Toronto, Vienna, Prague, and Seattle. However, they’re not done. Meta and Nathan are going to use crowd sourcing by means of a mobile app that will allow users to constantly expand and give depth to the archive. The Instagram-like app is still in development but a beta version will be available for iPhones in the coming months.

I did not do this research project justice with this brief blog post, so I encourage you to check out typeofplace.com and stay tuned for updates, like the release of the app. Plus, this archive will be shared publicly for anyone to use for research purposes or simply to look at super cool type. I’m looking forward to seeing where this project ends up because I think the potential with this database will be endless. So stock up on those type photos while you’re wandering around your city, we want to see them!

The Scared is scared of what you like.

A great video made by Bianca Giaever in response to letting a 6-year-old tell a story.

TypeCon 2015: Genghis Kern

Guest Post by Almenia Candis

There is always the thrill of winning an online auction. For Jason Wedekind, owner of Genghis Kern in the Denver Highlands, this was very true when hunting for a complete set of movable type. When he was lucky enough to find a set of slab serif characters, there was something extra that drew a lot of excitement. He soon realized that he held in his hands carved history on the other side. 

From ancient maps of Colorado, to a crude engraving of a figure in a very NSFW position, these hidden gems showcases skills of artists past, but also a few with very common printmaking mistakes. You know to mind your p's and q's? Don't forget to engrave your numbers and symbols in reverse as well. 

We were also lucky enough to see these in person during our Letterpress Tour around the Denver area. It was almost surreal being able to hold something that some would display in a museum behind glass. At the Genghis Kern letterpress studio, it was part of the hands on experience to feel the same thrill as Jason. With so much to learn from experts in diverse fields of typography and new acquaintances to keep in touch with, TypeCon was a truly rewarding experience. 


TypeCon 2015: Marian Bantjes

Guest post by Almenia Candis


Keynote speaker of TypeCon 2015 Marian Bantjes opened with a look back at her portfolio. She has used a variety of mediums including dirt, sand, flowers, My Little Pony hair and has made type to look sweet like candy or haunting like an eerie house.

One of the most interesting aspects of her work is making her audience figure out what is being written. It goes against one of the primary rules of typography of making sure the reader has clarity of the text before them. For Marian, it is more of a puzzle hidden in an obscure pattern. She frames her work using existing grids from magazine layouts or photographs of city structures and invites the reader to peek closely at her hidden messages

Later in her career, Marian has steered away from typography and has focused her attention to pattern design. From fabrics, to carpets, to wallpaper, Marian's designs stay complex using the simplest of repeating shapes. Objects found around her home have been made into ornate patterns that give a kaleidoscope effect with a few tweaks in Photoshop to enhance the colour and beauty in every element. 

Explore the British Columbian Rockies with Marian and her dog in a series of video vignettes. The piece, above, was created in response to her experience.

Explore the British Columbian Rockies with Marian and her dog in a series of video vignettes. The piece, above, was created in response to her experience.

Marian's presentation has not only stuck with me because of her portfolio, but also from words spoken when she asked herself, "What is worth spending your valuable time on?" It is something anyone can take to heart as they pursue their creative hobbies when they must ask themselves if they want to continue in their current path. In Marian's case, it has opened up a new dimension in her work to create elaborate collages for her own masterpieces.

TypeCon 2015: Denver Letterpress Tour

Guest post by Allie McRae

Man, what a weekend it was at TypeCon! I was thoroughly impressed at the vast amounts of intelligence I was surrounded by, and yet how approachable and willing everyone was to meet new people and share their passions. Of all the speakers and activities I participated in, the Denver Letterpress Tour was by far the highlight of my weekend. On Friday evening, after a full day of lectures on topics ranging from the inner workings of Adobe’s type team to the endless possibilities of OpenType features, I was ready to get out of my chair and get my hands in some ink.

The evening started out with 35 of us conference attendees parading up the steps, single file, into an overhauled, matte black school bus that has rightfully earned the title of a Party Bus. With two long benches down each side, a flat screen tv on the back wall, and the bass thumping, we made our way to our first of four destinations—Now It’s Up To You Publications, a backyard letterpress studio belonging to Tom Parson. Tom and his family graciously let us crowd into their yard and admire a staggering amount of letterpress equipment and ephemera that Tom has printed over the years—including some of his own poetry—along with a handful of working presses. With only 25 minutes at each of our stops, we hustled to get our posters printed with our first run; at each stop we were going to add onto our poster until we had a complete print at the end of the evening.

Next up, we swung by Foils + Dies / Vintage Pressworks, to visit Rob Barnes and his stellar team. Foils + Dies is a luxuriously spacious studio with great, stately presses and enough enthusiasm to keep you entertained for hours. In contrast to Tom’s individual operation, Foils + Dies is set up to handle large orders and get them in and out in no time. There’s a bright future for Foils + Dies as they prepare for a move to Rob’s ranch just west of Denver, where an entirely new home (with lake views!) is being built for the presses. With our second colour of our print successfully checked off, we headed out once again to our awaiting Party Bus.

Our third stop was to the cleverly named Genghis Kern Letterpress & Design studio. Jason Wedekind was one of the speakers at TypeCon that morning so we were already aware of his incredible collection of double-sided letterpress blocks that he had on display at his studio. (My fellow correspondent Almenia Candis will be sharing a post about Jason’s passion for finding these rare, double-sided letterforms because they are truly superb specimens.) We grabbed a local Colorado beer and completed our third colour and round of printing. With enough space and time at this stop, we were able to pull our own prints this time, with some helpful guidance from Jason and his team.

And finally, our last stop on the Party Bus was to MATTER, a bustling, full-service design studio with a print shop on the ground floor. As this was our last stop on the letterpress tour, the Party Bus dropped us off here for a more leisurely stay. The walls of the industrial studio were covered in graphic inspiration and Rick Griffith, the head honcho of MATTER, wasted no time in sharing his complex ideas about creativity and MATTER’s design process. For the last time we wound our way through the line to complete our prints. A few of us that stayed a while longer were able to print a bonus round and have Marvin Gaye’s head permanently debossed onto the top of our design. Personally, I think Marvin’s smiling face is what truly made the different elements of the poster come together.

Besides my love of letterpress—the inevitable grime under my fingernails, the smell of ink, the unavoidable ink smudge, the sound of the whirring press—the other 30-some-odd people adventurous enough to climb onto that Party Bus made for the best company. I’m so glad I had the chance to visit some of the quality, local print studios around Denver and to be squished so tightly in that bus that I was bound to make new type-nerd friends.