Barb Skoog: Clouds on Water

A Journey into the world of Marbling

Barb Skoog is one of 75 printmakers profiled in the current issue. When I was going through the many, many submissions (250!) to curate the content for this printmaking-themed issue, I was delighted to see a paper marbling submission. Barb generously donated a delicious stack of hand-marbled papers for subscriber copies (for those subscribed prior to the end of March).

It was tempting to keep this beautiful stack all to myself, but I know there are dozens of subscribers out there who now have the joy of holding her papers in person.

Barb is a Los Angeles-based artist specializing in the Turkish form of marbling called Ebru. She writes, "This centuries-old art form involves floating paint on thickened water, making patterns and designs using special tools, and then placing paper, fabric, wood, or other materials on top of the water where the image is immediately and permanently transferred. In addition to having my work featured in art and lifestyle magazines, juried shows, and galleries, my marbled pieces have been used in bookbinding, in mixed media, as fashion accessories (purses, scarves), as home décor, and more."

If you'd like to learn this technique, Barb has a freshly-launched eCourse. The video below offers a happy teaser on what you'll learn in the course. It looks like so much fun!

Barb has a special offer for UPPERCASE readers. Using the promo code UPLOVE, you can get $80 off the regular price ($259) and take the course for just $179 if you sign up by May 31. Class officially begins on June 8 (6 weeks guided instruction) but students have access to all info for six months.

Thank you to Barb Skoog for her support of UPPERCASE through a Calling Card. If you'd like to purchase a Calling Card ad for the next issue and for the blog sidebar, please visit this page for more details. 

#uppercaselove for @kriszquilala

Love this slow motion video that @ kriszquilala posted on Instagram. How cool.

@uppercasemag #uppercaselove #🎵 #belllabratories #slomo

A video posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀. ⠀⠀ krisz quilala ➳ (@kriszquilala) on

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Win a set of lettering and illustration pens from Sakura

Regular readers of UPPERCASE magazine will observe that there are very few ads in each print issue. Sometimes two pages plus the Calling Cards and Peeps, sometimes fewer than that! Truth is, as a one-woman operation, I don't have a lot of time to sell ads. But sometimes, advertisers seek out the magazine and it becomes a natural fit. Like when Sakura of America, makers of the Pigma pen, reached out to advertise in UPPERCASE. You'll see their print ad in the fall illustration-themed issue of UPPERCASE. In the meantime, we're collaborating on a giveaway!

I've been using Pigma Micron pens since college. They're really are part of any designer and illustrator's tool kit.

Sakura has recently introduced a new line of Pigma Professional Brush Pens to the line. These pens use the same rich, black, archival ink, but with expressive brush nibs in fine, medium and bold tips. They're perfect for illustration and lettering projects. I had some fun experimenting with the boldest nib, below.

Master penman Jake Weidmann, whom we featured in the calligraphy and lettering issue 23, tries out a finer version below. Wow, his talent is awesome!

To win one of five Sakura Pigma Pen prize packs, please leave a comment about why you love inky black pens over on this Instagram photo. Make sure you follow @uppercasemag and @sakuraofamerica. This promotion is open to legal residents of the 50 United States, District of Columbia and Canada (except Quebec). You must be over the age of 13. Contest is open until May 18. The winners will be selected at random from the Instagram comments. Good luck!

#uppercaselove

It is wonderful to see the new issue being enjoyed and admired by readers around the world! Please tag your Instagrams @uppercasemag so that I can see them and include the hashtag #uppercaselove so that they show up on this page.

If you want to share what you're working on or just something about yourself, use the hashtag #uppercasereader.

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Inspiration: the good, the bad and the pretty.

I’ve spent the better part of a decade searching for inspiration. 

At its heart, everything I make and do with UPPERCASE is curated and designed to inspire me—and by extension, you, my reader. By sharing the stories of talented creatives in a wide variety of disciplines, each magazine issue or book is full of inspiring people, places and things.

But the word “inspiration” is so-often employed these days, that I hesitate to use it. “Inspiration" is diluted. When it comes to creativity, what is truly inspiring? 

the good

When something you see or experience triggers a switch to “yes!” in your creative heart, that’s the best kind of inspiration. The kind that motivates you, that fires you up, that kicks you into action. It creates a desire to do something, to harness that inspired feeling and see where it leads you. It’s joyful, pure, instinctual. It has no judgments, no preconceptions, no deadlines: it simply is. yes!

the bad

One can be inspired by another artist and while it’s ok to admire, it is never ok to copy. Imitation is not flattering for the one doing the imitating. The phrase “taking inspiration” describes this darker side. If you find yourself relying too much on other people’s work when making your own, stop. If you’re judging your work against someone else’s work, stop. Step back and look at it objectively. Make a list of all the things that you love about that person’s work and all the traits that you aspire to achieve in your own work. Going forward, use that list as your guide and your motivation. 

the pretty

I think we’re overloaded by so much generic “inspiration” that we’re becoming desensitized. We pin on Pinterest, like on Instagram… but this infinite scroll of images—however gorgeous they may be—is training us for snap judgments and short attention spans. It’s a millisecond of inspiration that burns out nearly as soon as it began and you find yourself scrolling for another hit. Sometimes a good dose of pretty is just what you need, but the next time you find yourself in a hangover of pinning and liking, revisit your selections. Was any of it inspiring in a lasting way? 

With the twenty-fifth issue making its way into the world now, my hope is that I’ve done my job well and that UPPERCASE falls into the best category of inspiration.

May you come away from reading the magazine feeling joy and optimism, with a flicker of a new idea whispering, "yes!"

 

This message was originally published yesterday in my weekly newsletter. If you'd like to receive free weekly content like this, plus a look at behind-the-scenes of making a magazine, free downloads and news of how you can participate within the magazine, please sign up here. Thanks!

-Janine

Gail Anderson: Those who can, teach.

This guest post is by Andrea Marvan, who attended the AIGA Y Conference on behalf of UPPERCASE

 

I spotted Gail Anderson since the beginning of the Y20 conference, she was chatting with colleagues and listening to the talks from the first row. Gail is a previous contributor for UPPERCASE (issue 10, see related post here) so I recognised her immediately, but I waited until the second day to approach her, as I’m a bit of an introvert and she looked rather serious and intimidating. Believe me, she is not.

New York-based designer, writer, and educator Gail Anderson is fun and kind, she is humble and brilliant, down to earth and absolutely fascinating. Gail began her presentation telling us about the time she posed for a photo with President Obama and – accidentally – grabbed his butt (!). And how she modestly muttered “I make posters” when she was asked by Barack (yes, for the purpose of this conversation we are on a first-name basis) what she did for a living.

Through her career Gail has done way more than posters, and has won a few awards, including the 2008 Lifetime Achievement Medal from AIGA. Her credentials go from senior art director at the Rolling Stone magazine to co-author of several typography books, but what I want to focus on is her role as an inspiring teacher. Gail teaches in the School of Visual Arts MFA, undergraduate and high school design programs, and has lectured about design at organizations and conferences around the world, including a recent workshop she did for design students in Saudi Arabia, which landed her an invitation to a further workshop with none other than a princess.

Gail is the kind of teacher everybody should have. She is proud of her students and supportive, yet she challenges them, inspires them and pushes them to be better. As the topic of Y20 was “design moving forward”. Gail emphasised that, for her, design moving forward has been being a teacher. She beamed with pride as she showed us the new media work from some of her grad students; it was a delightful surprise featuring catchy music and flawless editing. She mentioned that, as the students came from many backgrounds, through exercises she made them comfortable with fonts. “I forced them to have fun! They become so rigid when dealing with typefaces.”

When asked why does she teach, Gail simply answered “I have had many great teachers and mentors through my life. Teaching helps me stay fresh.”

So, I say we should eliminate that infamous quote “Those who can, do; those who can’t teach” from our vocabulary, and start showing admiration to all teachers. How else will the new generations become extraordinary professionals, if not under the nurturing mentorship and guidance of remarkable teachers such as Gail?

Brian Gartside: Doing good work & work for good

This guest post is by Andrea Marvan who attended the AIGA Y Conference.

 

Brian Gartside is a 27-year-old graphic designer and typographer whose credentials include working at Pentagram, DDB New York, and more recently Deutsch Inc.

Brian began his Y20 presentation with advise for emerging graphic designers (and anybody in the creative industry, really) discussing “Things I wish I knew when I was studying to become a Graphic Designer.” Which can be summed up as doing good work, work that visually improves the space that it occupies. Here are the highlights:

  1. Make ads that don’t look like ads (or whatever you make, make it not look like that).

  2. Become a technical expert, be fast at the things you can control so you can spend time on the things you can’t.

  3. Build a diverse library of inspiration. It will help you be more authentic as it will reduce the risk of inadvertently copying someone else.

  4. Take a break. Have a hobby. Do something else for a bit, it will help you think.

This valuable insight from Brian’s very promising career (in October of 2014 he was named as an ADC Young Gun) was complemented by the second part of his presentation, where Brian discussed what he has learned in putting this knowledge into practice and how his skillset has helped him to do work for good.

Many of the projects Brian worked on while at DDB are partially credited for the creative revival of the agency, including The Drinkable Book, where he worked as a senior designer, and which brought the agency its first Cannes Gold Lion in two decades. The Drinkable Book integrates outstanding design and cutting-edge technology put to the service of a remarkable cause developed by Water is Life.

“The Drinkable Book is a life saving tool that filters water and teaches proper sanitation & hygiene to those in the developing world. Each book is printed on technologically advanced filter paper, capable of killing deadly waterborne diseases. And each page is coated with silver nanoparticles, whose ions actively kill diseases like cholera, typhoid and E. coli. Once water is passed through the filter, bacteria count is reduced by over 99.99%, making the filtered water comparable to tap water in the United States of America.”

We all want to use our skillset for the greater good, but at time the possibilities are overwhelming and the size of the task seem impossible to bear. As Brian put it, doing work for good is easier than we may think:

  • You don’t have to save the world. You might never change the world but what you can do is help the people that can change it. If there is something you believe in, find the company who is doing that important thing without the sexy, approach the company and bring the sexy! Make something people can’t ignore.

  • Agencies love pro-bono work because you get more creative freedom. Use that to your advantage but don’t be a scam artist.

  • Dead doesn’t mean dead. Proceed as if it happening. Persistency is key.

  • Beg for favours. If it’s a good project, people will want to help.

  • Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. Don’t let funding hold you up. Get it done and sort it our later.

  • Be more than just a graphic designer. These projects happen though sheer force of will. Do whatever you have to do (wear all the hats you need to in order to get things done).

As the long round of applause and stimulating questions from the audience proved, we were all really inspired by Brian’s investment and igniting curiosity, and the endless possibilities of using creativity to help build a better world.

 

*For more information or to support the Drinkable Book project please go to www.waterislife.com  Photos courtesy of Brian Gartside