Happy Thanksgiving, American friends!
(I'm enjoying seeing all the handlettered b+w messages in my Instagram feed today!)
(I'm enjoying seeing all the handlettered b+w messages in my Instagram feed today!)
Alice Young remembers the first time she picked up a professional ink pen. "I was captivated. Ink is alive—flowing and liquid—with an independent will and life of its own." Though she does her daily work as a graphic designer, her after-hours passion is calligraphy. "When I'm tired of being slick and sensible," she says, "'The Other Alice' emerges."
The Other Alice's Etsy shop offers a selection of calligraphy-based artwork printed on high quality cards with white and coloured ink on premium recycled stock (Neenah Environment).
Thank you, Alice for supporting UPPERCASE magazine through this Calling Card.
Karin Eriksson and Camilla Engman have a new collaboration:
"To mark our ten year anniversary as friends, we – illustrator Camilla Engman and ceramicist Karin Eriksson have created a set of cups in Karin's design with Camilla's illustrations on them. The cups come in a beautiful handcrafted paper box. We haven’t made a limited edition this time, but if you want the cups to arrive in time for Christmas you shouldn’t wait too long."
Above is a spread from the book that I published all about Camilla Engman. It's from 2009 but still oh so inspiring. The Suitcase Series: Camilla Engman is available in the UPPERCASE shop — just 144 copies left of this gorgeous book. Here's the video I made from my wonderful trip to Scandinavia to visit Camilla:
"These earrings are made from tiny denim shards are cut into 2x2 cm squares and placed by hand onto ear wires to create these stunning and light weight earrings. Trashn2Tees has diverted more than 476,000 pounds of clothing with our designs and established nationwide clothing recycling drop offs across the United States."
The next challenge:
To enter the challenge, please email good quality digital photographs of your creation (800 pixels wide at 72 dpi) to email@example.com. Entries must be submitted on or before January 30th to qualify for the challenge. Entries must also include your name, contact information and a brief description of your creation. If you have any questions about this challenge, please direct them to Solita at the email listed above. UPPERCASE is not involved in the administration or adjudication of this challenge.
Solita and Reworks has a Kickstarter campaign on now to create a maker space within their shop which is in the heart of Calgary's Inglewood community:
We are carving out the back third of our shop to provide a maker space to supplement our artists' existing home studios. The space will be available for makers to meet, share ideas, and develop in a common space. They will have access to higher end tools such as a Janome serger, air compressor, and upholstery stapler that are often beyond the means of a single individual, but which become so useful in the hands of many people in the right environment.
Their products are always carefully selected and they really excel at COLOUR. Beautiful colour combinations showing real sophistication—subtle differences in shades, beautiful gradations, unexpected pairings... the Purl Bee, their inspiring blog, showcases various projects using Purl products and for those of us admiring and shopping from afar, offers an up close appreciation of their fabrics and yarns through great photography and really accessible patterns. Here are some simple striped patterns that are easy for beginners and meditative and satisfying for expert crocheters and knitters.
On a cold winter's day, I'd love to be encircled by this gradient cowl.
And I'll curl up under a striped blanket... or perhaps I'll just snuggle up to these skeins of yarn that look warm and inviting just like this:
It is my great pleasure to unveil the cover of the next issue! Featuring a collage by Andrea D'Aquino, I am overjoyed with this design for an issue that will explore the modern quilt movement plus the creation and modification of surface through tattoos, weaving and more.
See that swatch of patterned fabric on the right? That's going to be an actual piece of vintage feedsack fabric hand applied to each subscriber cover. Be still my beating heart!
I can't wait to see how the collage changes a bit with each different piece of fabric. It will be delightfully random. Thanks to the many wonderful readers who have sent in feedsack swatches! If you're planning on sending some, the details are here. If you could also please send me an email with the quantity of squares you're sending so that I can keep a tally that would be helpful. We're pretty close to the goal of 10,000!
There is very little advertising in each issue of UPPERCASE. This is partly by design since the few ads I do run have more impact for the advertiser and hold more interest for the reader (and leave more room for content!) but it is also out of necessity. Being a one-woman magazine operation means I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to finding advertisers. My goal is to find two advertisers per issue—one for each of the inside covers—plus an assortment of Calling Card ads and Peeps round out each issue. I was happy when, out of the blue, the folks at Fossil contacted me about placing an ad in the current issue. They’re certainly the biggest brand that has advertised with UPPERCASE, but they’re also a great fit: with beautiful products that I personally already use (my watch, for example) and a company culture driven by design, Fossil has employed and supported many illustrators and designers within the larger UPPERCASE community.
I’ve been a solo designer pretty much my entire career, working my way up out of the room off the kitchen, the basement, a public gallery space and now to a nice studio office. But I’ve never worked for another company and I am particularly intrigued by how bigger brands nurture creativity and foster great work environments. I was curious about how UPPERCASE fits into life at Fossil so I reached out to Laura Pike-Seeley, the librarian at the Fossil headquarters in Richardson, Texas. (Please note that this profile was entirely initiated by me and is not a sponsored post.)
What kinds of books, magazines and reference materials are at the Fossil Library?
The Fossil Library is open to all employees, but specializes in connecting our design teams to Fossil’s shared creative resources. We have a variety of materials, from books on Expressionist woodcuts and jazz album covers to a circulating iPad full of digital magazine subscriptions.
Fossil subscribes to dozens of design journal titles, including, of course, UPPERCASE! Other popular titles include Kinfolk, Vogue Accessory, Wallpaper, Print and many more. We also hold management and leadership titles, graphic and watch design annuals and paper samples
In addition, the Library manages collections for our product design teams, the largest being our collection of retail and vintage samples. Imagine a circulating library, but instead of books, it’s bags, belts, textiles and anything else you can imagine.
How is the library curated?
You can’t always anticipate where creativity will lead people, so much of the collection development is in response to designers’ requests or from conversations with employees about the directions their work is taking. That said, the library fills gaps and anticipates user needs by acquiring titles that are crucial for a well-rounded design resource center to offer. The other major driver is our seasonal brand stories— the Fossil brand team helps to curate resources that will support their vision for upcoming seasons.
How did you hear about UPPERCASE magazine?
This first time I flipped through an UPPERCASE issue was at Salvage Ltd in Arlington, Massachusetts. When I came on over three years ago and started managing our journal subscriptions, UPPERCASE was a magazine I knew that the Library, as a resource center for hundreds of creatives, had to have. This impulse was confirmed over and over again, as it’s one of our most popular titles.
UPPERCASE is adored for its...
The magazine is so well curated and colorful—it just makes you smile. According to our designers, UPPERCASE is adored because it’s eclectic, practical and made for creatives by creatives. Charming, whimsical, surprising—these are all words used by our designers to describe UPPERCASE.
As many Fossil employees are lovers of historical ephemera, we are always delighted to see celebrations of the cultural paper trail in UPPERCASE—like the piece on ham radio cards from issue 20 and the midcentury letterhead feature from issue 19.
What kinds of materials are in the archives?
We’re currently celebrating Fossil’s 30th birthday, so our archives have been heavily mined this year. The archives contains packaging (we have a full archive of our signature watch tins), catalogs and mailers, advertising collateral, newsletters, press releases, merchandising props, and of course, product, including watches, bags, belts and clothing. Our digital archives holds commercials, internal videos and our art department’s work from the past twenty years or so. The archive is growing as we are striving to collect some of our oldest and rarest designs. And several times a year, the library works with design leaders to pick the best of the best designs to add to our seasonal archive.
What is the coolest item in the archive?
It's tough to pick just one! We do have some particularly great items seen in the retro future story, which is a recurring theme that has popped up again and again over the years at Fossil.
As early as 1991, you can see a retro-futuristic influence in Fossil's packaging and product. These robots, rockets, ray guns, galactic travelers and other symbols of other-worldly adventures were inspired by late 1950s visions of a fantastic future.
Fossil has looked to the story of retro future once again for the Holiday 2014 collection. Taking the best elements of midcentury design culture and infusing it with humor and whimsy is what Fossil does best.
How do designers at Fossil typically use the library services?
It’s a function of both reference and inspiration. Someone may need to get a better grasp on a subject they are already familiar with, or perhaps a topic they have been assigned to research, and we work together to locate the best resources. Other times, they come from a place of curiosity or a desire for new thinking. Our fully-automated library consists of about two thousand books—big enough to provide a little of most things design-related, but small enough to easily browse for inspiration, both in person and through the digital catalog.
How does the library assist the Fossil brand and company culture?
The Library is here for anyone to use for inspiration, reference, or simply a place to get away from your desk and computer for a little while. It’s a welcoming, open space that encourages creativity and collaboration, which are both so crucial to the Fossil identity. Quite simply, the Library is a creative haven.
Based on what people are interacting with in the library, can you see trends in style and design emerging?
It seems that one of the biggest developments in creative culture is a shift toward authenticity and craftsmanship, even as creatives retain a passion for technology and how it can support innovation in design. 3D printing, wearables, hackerspaces—these emerged from a desire to explore what role technology plays in self-expression, and the urge to find self-fulfillment through the creative process. Maker culture supports innovation that is practical, progressive and collaborative. It’s an emotional, optimistic movement that touches all aspects of design, especially at a company like Fossil that looks to both the history and the future of style and design to define our aesthetic.
Thank you to Laura and the team at Fossil for sharing these behind-the-scenes with us! For a look at Fossil design process, visit their blog. And please check out the Eley Kishimoto x Fossil collaboration that is advertised in the current issue—it's full of pattern designs plus some really bold retro-inspired watch designs. Would you or your brand like to advertise in the pages of UPPERCASE next year? Download the media kit over here.
Blackbird Letterpress is the name of Kathryn Hunter's creative and prolific letterpress company.
Kathryn Hunter started Blackbird Letterpress in Lafayette, Louisiana, in her friends' house in 2003. Blackbird began with the purchase of a Chandler and Price "Old Series" platen letterpress (circa 1904) from a long-time printer in Hammond, Louisiana. The movable type came from a printer outside of Chicago. One crisp October weekend (well, crisp in Illinois, not necessarily in Louisiana), Kathryn and her friend flew to the big midwestern city, loaded a couple tons of type and cabinets and other goodies out of a basement into a moving truck, and drove it back to Bayou Country. A collection of vintage printer's cuts came from a long-time printer in New Iberia, Louisiana (the trip was luckily much shorter that time). Blackbird Letterpress currently works out of a mural-clad building in Baton Rouge, which they share with a metalworking business and two frisky guard dogs.
Here are some of the things that UPPERCASE readers are sharing on Instagram recently. Please click on the image to be taken to its owner. To share your work, Instagram it to @uppercasemag #uppercasereader and it will be easy for me to find. thanks!
If you've ever dreamed of a romantic destination for your wedding, then nothing comes close to the Canadian Rocky Mountains for scenery and drama. Kirstie Tweed is an outstanding wedding photographer (she photographed my wedding nearly 10 years ago) who lives in a National Park — Banff, to be precise. Close to Lake Louise, Canmore and other mountain destinations, Kirstie and her husband Kevin have built the website Canoe Wedding as the ultimate resource for couples planning on tying the knot in the region. From venues to activities to restaurants, Canoe Wedding offers great information whether you're a tourist planning a visit, organizing a romantic anniversary getaway to the mountains or just indulging in a fantasy of the perfect wedding.
For a dramatic winter wedding, don't let the temperatures below zero give you cold feet — Kirstie and Kevin are the most thoughtful and warm people you could want to document your special day. They've also compiled Tips for a Winter Wedding so you'll be well prepared (not to mention stylish!)
Thank you, Kirstie and Kevin, for being such champions of what I do at UPPERCASE.
It looks like a trip to Australia will be in my diary early next year! I look forward to sharing those details when I can (I'll be speaking at a conference). I won't have time to visit or explore much—and I certainly wouldn't have been able to snoop inside the homes and studios that are featured in Frankie magazine' Spaces book. I blogged about the book when it was first released, and now it is back on its second printing.
Spaces is a collection of homes and homes-away-from-home around Australia: from the east coast capitals to the Adelaide Hills, the wilds of Tasmania and the southernmost tip of Western Australia. The designers, photographers, foodies, musicians and artists you’ll meet inside might have cleaned up a bit for their photos, but their homes aren’t fancy. These are the kind of places that take time and energy to put together, with some of the most precious things in them passed down through families, collected on travels or picked up from the side of the road. With a focus on resourcefulness and individual style, Spaces celebrates the importance of home to a creative bunch of Australians.
Below is an extract from Spaces volume two featuring the co-work studio Little Gold. Sass Cocker is interviewed by Chris Harrigan with photos by Hilary Walker.
Senior VP of Storytelling, MTV (previously: Bloomberg Businessweek)
Executive Creative Director, Creative Lab, Google
"The Future of Design Education"
What is the most important trait(s) for students leaving college / entering the workforce?
AD: one core skill is more important than multiple skills. A single skill permeates through a portfolio. Don't pretend you can do everything.
LZ: not skill sets, but mindsets / must be able to embrace new thinking – we're looking for innovators who will push the industry forward
EL: don't copy others / "nobody's going to be everything"
What is more important: critical thinking or technical skills?
EL: there should be no division—skill set and mindset should be integrated
AD: students must be adaptable and be able to teach themselves, or know how to acquire the skills they need
LZ: importance of learning both high tech and low tech (analog techniques), as well as learn from each other
How do you teach less-skilled students (the 90% "non-stars")?
LZ: educators are responsible for teaching the entire gamut of students, from all skill levels and backgrounds. strive for better, not best
AD: must question metrics – not just about graphic design "hard skills"
things to consider:
how is the student inspiring / challenging the discipline / industry?
how the student having an impact on his / her community?
how is the student able to communicate / inspire / teach others?
ultimately, educators must embrace diversity of skills and help break down barriers
Should software / technical skills be the core of design programs?
EL: critical thinking is more important that software knowledge
"teach spelling AND poetry in tandem" — always with an element of FUN
How important is coding fluency in a world where students are expected to be multi-disciplinary?
AD: students must have "digital fluency": able to use but not necessarily produce
ability to tell stories with existing apps, platforms, tools of visual distribution
How do you teach students to be "resourceful"?
EL: make students work within constraints, units, specific parameters, this teaches problem solving / resilience creates systems that can change / design is the most basic form of literacy for both designers and non-designers / empower students to do good: either at industry/agency level, or within their community
AD: time = money; make students execute projects in time constraints
find ways to "get to amazing" within 24 hours
What are your thoughts on design departments who are changing the course descriptions from "Graphic Design" to "Communication Design"?
EL: "I will go to my grave as a graphic designer!"
"graphic design" connotes discipline, long standing traditions
"communication design" connotes business, marketing, PR (yuck)
LZ: "graphic design" doesn't adequately describe the tasks any more
What are the constraints of a 3-year design degree? What would you add/change?
LZ: too insular
gap between real money / real time
need to connect graphic design with everything else
EL: too much focus on self, homework, etc. / add communal spaces to create a studio experience, encourage peer-to-peer learning, which is invaluable / also, make all classes electives…
AD: most classroom spaces are terrible – feel too "school-like"
learning / working environments affect how we think, act, and the quality of our work
Christopher Rouleau was our reporter on the scene of the recent Design Thinkers conference in Toronto and conducted an interview with Ellen Lupton that will appear in a future issue of the magazine. Below, he shares his conference notes — those fleeting gems and snippets of ideas that one takes away from such a conference. Visit his blog for more.
CEO & Co-founder, Mother NYC
Executive Creative Director & Senior VP of Marketing, Target
Founder, Draplin Design Co.
was told "you're not going to make a living in design"
President, Design Division, Sterling Brands
Design Matters podcast
On the occasion of Remembrance Day, as we think about the heartbreak and sacrifice of war, these typewriter ads from the 1940s offer an interesting perspective on how even typical business was affected—and the significant impact the war had on women in the workplace.
These ads are from my personal collection and are part of The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine.
"I noticed, about a year of so, the term hashtag — I didn't think much of it... Until one day I finally took a good look on the computer at a hashtag and I said, golly - that's a pound sign!" Watch the Wall Street Journal video about a shop called Letterpress Things in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
It's a snowy day here in Calgary... likely the first of many more to come through the long winter ahead! If you're curled up on your couch and browsing the UPPERCASE shop, use the code "snow day" for $10 off orders over $50 today. Stay cozy!