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a beautiful thank you letter

a beautiful thank you letter

The Creative Boost
UPPERCASE Subscription Draw

Last year, I did a draw for 100 complimentary subscriptions for folks in challenging circumstances. Over 740 people entered. (Read about it here and here. This also prompted me to list sponsored subscriptions in the shop, so that generous folks can sponsor fellow UPPERCASE readers experiencing tough times. So far, 28 subscriptions have been sponsored! Thank you!)

I know from your stories that reading UPPERCASE can be uplifting and motivating and, even, life-changing for some. Subscribing to the magazine is a considerable financial investment ($80 in North America and $120 everywhere else) and for some readers, that takes it out of reach. 

Perhaps you're going through a tough time financially, medically, emotionally... there are many factors that can get in the way of purchasing a subscription. If you truly cannot afford a subscription due to such circumstances and this is what has prevented you from becoming a subscriber, please enter your confidential information below and you'll be entered into the draw for one of 100 free subscriptions. 

Please note that for the purposes of this draw, simply being a student isn't a qualifying situation. Please ask your school's library to subscribe for you and your classmates. Thank you for understanding.

Please use the honour system — I trust that you are submitting your name because this is the only way you can access an UPPERCASE subscription. Please enter only once, otherwise you will be disqualified. 

I will be drawing 100 free subscriptions on February 28.

If you know someone who would benefit from this offer, please send them the link to enter. Gift Subscriptions can be purchased for specific friends or colleagues or you can also purchase a Sponsored Subscription which we will also give randomly to someone on this list. 

Brooklyn General Store

Thank you to everyone who came out to the meetup last Wednesday at Brooklyn General Store! It was great to meet many UPPERCASE subscribers in person and put some faces to people I enjoy following on Instagram. Thank you to Catherine Clark for hosting this lovely event.

Here's the store earlier in the day, before a few dozen people showed up! To see pictures from the event, please scroll over on Instagram.

Here's the store earlier in the day, before a few dozen people showed up! To see pictures from the event, please scroll over on Instagram.

The Ink Pad, NYC


There are only a handful of UPPERCASE stockists in the city. One of them is The Ink Pada unique shop specializing in rubber stamps, scrapbooking and paper arts. Located on 37th Seventh Avenue at the corner of 13th Street, the shop has been in Greenwich Village for over 18 years.

There's UPPERCASE openly displayed in The Ink Pad window.

There's UPPERCASE openly displayed in The Ink Pad window.

UPPERCASE and other magazines for the creatively inclined.

UPPERCASE and other magazines for the creatively inclined.

There's an extraordinary variety of rubber stamps!

There's an extraordinary variety of rubber stamps!

We even found a rubber stamp of our dog Percy, a Cardigan Corgi.

We even found a rubber stamp of our dog Percy, a Cardigan Corgi.

Anna Chiang is the owner of the store—she commutes an hour and a half each day to The Ink Pad. Now that's dedication! Patrice, in the middle, created some of the stamped card designs on display throughout The Ink Pad.

Anna Chiang is the owner of the store—she commutes an hour and a half each day to The Ink Pad. Now that's dedication! Patrice, in the middle, created some of the stamped card designs on display throughout The Ink Pad.

Thank you, Anna, for carrying UPPERCASE in your shop! If you're not in NYC, you can shop The Ink Pad online, too.

UPPERCASE Meetup at Brooklyn General Store


update: please RSVP here

I'm looking forward to spending time in Catherine Clark's beautiful shop, Brooklyn General. This is the perfect venue for a little UPPERCASE gathering. Please drop by and join us for a browse (yarn, fabric, tools, books and creative supplies!) and refreshments. If you have something you'd like to show me for consideration for the magazine, bring it along and we'll have an informal show and tell. We'll have the Feed Sacks book, the new issue and I'll bring a few goodies in my suitcase... 

From their website:

"Brooklyn General Store resides tucked away on a sweet block West of the Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill neighbourhoods.  At the north end of Red Hook, this commercial block on Union Street used to be a thriving shopping block for all types of foods and goods.  Brooklyn General’s home within the Old Frank’s Department Store is a throw back to that era, with its preserved floor to ceiling shelves, rolling ladders and classic old wooden floors. The vintage interior is not reproduced, just uncovered, cleaned and painted. If the original shelving isn’t enough to hold all the goods, vintage rolling shoe racks, stacks of old blueberry boxes, vintage pie safes, vintage hardware displays and shelving built from reclaimed wood house the rest."

The Brooklyn General instagram is nice to follow!

Surface Pattern Design Guide: Jennifer Moore, Monaluna

Surface Pattern Design Guide: Jennifer Moore, Monaluna

Jennifer Moore started out as an illustrator. Now she owns her own organic fabric company. "I loved art as a kid, but never really believed I would do it as a career. I have a clear memory of myself in a fourth-grade art class, working on a lush purple-and-blue mandala, and wondering if I could figure out a way to do that for a job. I decided that was ridiculous—no one would ever pay anyone to draw pretty patterns—so I took a winding path to finally doing this as a career."

Read More

Wallpapers by Nottene

Kimberly Ellen Hall and Justin Hardison are the creative company, Nottene (pronounced [nuh-ten-uh]). Nottene was originally featured in the first edition of the Surface Pattern Design Guide. Since then, they've developed a line of wallpapers.


"Our papers are screen printed by hand in New York, and feature the signature and delicate motifs which are a continuation of the our interest in finding patterns in the small details of everyday life," says the pair.

I received their catalogue in the mail recently—though not in time to include it in issue 32 which was already designed at that point. But I thought I'd share a flip-through of it with you here. The inclusion of the actual samples shows how beautiful the wallpapers are—velvety and satisfyingly matte with hits of metallic. 

There's more to discover at Nottene.

Surface Pattern Design Guide: Shannon Newlin

With the Second Edition of the Surface Pattern Design Guide included in the current issue, I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of the artists featured in the first edition of the guide which was published in spring of 2014 as part of issue 21 (sold out).

Shannon Newlin


"After being featured in the 2014 Surface Pattern Design Guide I went on to submit my work to the West Elm in Charlotte, North Carolina," says Shannon Newlin. "They gave me the opportunity to sell my art in a month long art show and also become a West Elm LOCAL artist. In addition, I began licensing my work to manufacturers as well as annually participating in several indie art/craft shows. The art pieces shown here are just a few favourites from these shows."


"There have been several wonderful career opportunities since being featured in the 2014 issue." At the moment, Shannon is particularly excited: "I will have my first fabric line with FreeSpirit this spring!! It will be shown at the May 2017 Quilt Market. I am really looking forward to sharing this vibrant collection soon!"


The first edition is available as a free download over here.

Graphics for a Cause

Creativity has a societal and environmental impact. The processes and materials that we use in our art, along with our creative decisions, affect the world around us.

"What advice or recommendations do you have for being a responsible creative?" This is the question I ask readers in the open call for submissions for the spring issue of UPPERCASE. (The open call closes at midnight MT today, January 16.)

Nicole LaRue of Small Made Goods replies:

"I think we ought to leave room to take on projects that we are fiercely passionate about—ones that pull at our hearts and propel us to take action."

Nicole is the designer of the logo for this Saturday's Women's March. "I’m absolutely proud to have created the official Women’s March logo," she writes on her blog. "A logo that conveys diversity and women standing together and speaking out in a united voice—a voice that calls for solidarity, demands equality and confronts injustice."

"I'm not always the most brilliant wordsmith," says Nicole, "so I can never claim to have the art of words… so instead of protesting with words, I protest with my art and with my design. And, sometimes this can be just as powerful."

Find more details about the Women's March on Washington or one of the hundreds of sister marches around the world happening this Saturday, January 21.

The march in Calgary starts at 1pm in front of the Famous 5 statue in front of Arts Commons.

Surface Pattern Design Guide: Bessie Smith Moulton

There are 100 portfolios presented in the Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd edition (published in the current issue #32). They were selected from 744 submissions from readers worldwide who represent a variety of styles and levels of experience—from students to seasoned professionals. Though there are plenty of digitally-created patterns, there are also artists who use more hands-on methods like linocut, mono-printing or textile manipulations.

Bessie Smith Moulton of Babayaga Exquisites is a multimedia artist who has concentrated on the book arts for the past two decades, although her love of design extends to all materials. The last few years she has explored textiles and surface design. Her fabric designs are derived from naturally dyed plant material or various printing techniques, sometimes enhanced with embroidery or by collaging fabric patterns.

Bessie tells us more about her work and amazing studio on stilts:

I retired from my work as a graphic designer a decade ago and finally have been doing the artwork I have always wanted to do, making artist's books. Also, by combining my living situation with that of my longtime partner, I was able to build a studio of my dreams. Previously, I did my art and design work in nooks and crannies, on the dining room table, or in spare rooms. 

Click on the image to enlarge. Photo by Dana Hutchins.

Artists can work wherever they are, under any conditions. My studio is a bonus. It's large enough to hold workshops or studio visits. It is like a bird's nest built on stilts, over a pond, surrounded by trees and nature. There is a small Japanese garden below. I have named it Baba Yaga after the witch in the Russian fairytale who lives in a chicken coop, which moves around on chicken legs. 

Click on the image to enlarge. Photo by Dana Hutchins.

It is a place where I can go to be contemplative, study, or find inspiration. It is a comfortable place with all the materials at hand to do textile work, monoprinting, collage or multimedia that go into making artist’s books. 

Bessie in her basement studio.

Bessie in her basement studio.

I have an area in the basement of the house where I do printmaking, make paper, prepare cyanotypes and other crafts such as pottery, metal and glass work. 

Joseph Campbell said it best, ”To have a sacred place is an absolute necessity…a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be… a place of creative incubation.” 

For 99 other profiles of Surface Pattern Designers, pick up the current issue of UPPERCASE magazine.

Call for submissions: plastics / resins / gloss

Do you use plastics, resins or similar materials in your art, craft and design projects? Do you make things that are shiny and glossy? Share your projects for possible inclusion in the April/May/June 2017 issue of UPPERCASE magazine. The submission form is open until January 16.

This colourful work was submitted by Jo Chambers of Studio Legohead.

Jo writes, "From a love of collage and colour came these Wonky Floral Brooches. There are four in the collection and based around my floral and foliage obsession."

Each brooch is handmade from acrylic and wood and comes in its own limited edition hand-painted gift box.

Looking at Jo's artwork and surface pattern designs, you can see how she has taken recurring motifs and translated them into dimensional objects.


"Through series of collage experiments documented via Instagram," says Jo, "it led me to make some wearable cutouts."


I love the exuberance and confidence of Jo's art! Visit her Etsy shop for brooches, art prints and more.

Sarah Golden, Surface Pattern Design Guide

Image from Sarah Golden's Instagram

Image from Sarah Golden's Instagram

I'm pleased to share with you the title page for the Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd edition, illustrated by Sarah Golden. For an assignment in Lilla Rogers’ Make Art That Sells illustration course, students designed the opening title page to this guide. There were many outstanding designs to choose from! Sarah Golden’s submission was selected for her simple botanical motifs, playful composition and integrated handlettering—a great example of current styles in surface pattern. 

The title page for the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd Edition, is illustrated by Sarah Golden. Look for the Guide as part of UPPERCASE issue 32 (Jan/Feb/March 2017).

The title page for the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide, 2nd Edition, is illustrated by Sarah Golden. Look for the Guide as part of UPPERCASE issue 32 (Jan/Feb/March 2017).

From Sarah's Instagram

From Sarah's Instagram

Sarah Golden is an artist and fabric designer living in Sacramento, California. Block printing and gouache are her favourite mediums to work with. She creates a modern and handmade style through carving and through hand printing on paper and fabric, along with her use of colour. A love for Scandinavian design, vintage fabrics and geometrics inspire her work. Sarah’s first fabric collection for Andover Fabrics comes out in February 2017.

The Surface Pattern Design Guide is part of issue 32. Subscribe today!

A new design for the new year

I ordered a Pom Maker tool and went a little overboard on making pom poms this Christmas!

I ordered a Pom Maker tool and went a little overboard on making pom poms this Christmas!

I got this far and ran out of yarn! fortunately, my mother in law haD a good supply of yarn and I was able to keep POM and carry on.

I got this far and ran out of yarn! fortunately, my mother in law haD a good supply of yarn and I was able to keep POM and carry on.

The wreath wasn't done until after Christmas, but at least it will be ready and waiting for next year's festivities! Or perhaps I'll just bring it indoors to enjoy year-round. It's nice to pet it once and a while!

The wreath wasn't done until after Christmas, but at least it will be ready and waiting for next year's festivities! Or perhaps I'll just bring it indoors to enjoy year-round. It's nice to pet it once and a while!

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a lovely holiday and are feeling rested and ready for the year ahead.

As I mentioned in my newsletter today, one of my goals for 2016 was to revamp this website. It's the digital window into what UPPERCASE is all about and very often the first in-depth experience someone will have with the magazine before they subscribe or see a copy in person. The site really needed some focus and a much stronger home page. And in the backend, I've had my site hosted with Squarespace for a decade (!!!) and the navigation and organization was getting out of hand.

I've been thinking about the redesign for months—gathering ideas, jotting notes, saving urls on websites that I like, musing about it, wishing it would magically get done by itself... but my print projects always necessarily take the forefront of my to-do list. And readers will know that I put out a LOT of pages in 2016. Four magazine issues and the 544-page Feed Sacks book! 

With my workload done for the holidays and some mental space to tackle a medium that's quite a bit different than print, I started fleshing out the site redesign. I selected a new Squarespace template (I'm using Five) and got the basic framework ready. Full screen video on the home page has been on my wish list for years and I'm happy that there's the support to make that very easy to do now. With issue 32 fresh from the printer, I shot three different videos, trying to get the best possible result. I'm still not 100% satisfied with the video on the home page, but I'm sure I'll improve it with each subsequent issue. I'm a learn-by-doing sort of person!

After a very pleasant and mostly technology-free Christmas, on New Year's Eve—in that concentrated flurried feeling of having to get everything clean, sorted and ready for the change of the calendar—I dove in to the redesign. (Do you feel like that on New Year's Eve? I even felt compelled to clean the inside of my microwave. And I enjoyed doing it!)

The new design went live yesterday and there are still some elements to smooth out and improve upon, particularly on the blog page and some typographic elements... but the best thing about it is how this online renovation makes me feel enthusiastic and energized about the work I'll be doing in the coming year. A fresh new home for the new year.

coming up next

There are two new volumes in the Encyclopedia of Inspiration in progress: Botanica and Stitch•illo will be coming your way in the first half of the year. (You can still order the set and Feed Sacks will ship right away or you can purchase the books individually.) I have more plans and projects that I look forward to sharing with you soon.

And of course, the mainstay and core of what I make and do: UPPERCASE magazine. The January/February/March issue is on its way to subscribers and will soon be at stockists worldwide.

be published in uppercase

Want to published in the spring issue? The open calls for submissions are posted and submissions are due January 16.

Mia Whittemore, Winner of the UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Designer Competition

Mia Whittemore, Winner of the UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Designer Competition

The 100 designers featured in the forthcoming issue 32 were selected from 788 submissions entered into the Surface Pattern Design Guide call for entries. Submitters without past or current fabric licensing arrangements were also eligible to enter into the UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Designer Competition. Of these entries, I further whittled the selections down to 20 artists whose portfolios represented a variety of styles and personalities. From there, Mickey Krueger, Laura Jaquinto and the team at Windham Fabrics selected a winner who will receive a licensing deal with Windham Fabrics for their own fabric collection.

After considerable review of the artists’ submissions and online portfolios, Laura Jaquinto says, “Ultimately, we picked Mia Whittemore. Her variations in her illustrative style as well as her sense of colour was what sold us on her work. I think she nailed it in her brief bio: ‘Mia’s hope for her patterns is that they bring colour and joy to everyday life.’”

Read More

Feed Sacks book exhibition

Thank you to everyone who came to the studio on Sunday, November 27 to celebrate the arrival of Feed Sacks: the Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric written by Linzee Kull McCray. All pre-ordered books have been sent out now—it is exciting to see them starting to arrive around the world! (If you didn't pre-order, the book is shipping from our fulfillment warehouses, but without the limited edition cloth sacks packaging.)

Make Something Monday

Today's the day to create a good old-fashioned made-by-hand gift.

It doesn't have to be something complicated, just something simple showing your recipient that you took some time. Time is precious; showing someone that you took time out of the busy season to make something heartfelt is powerful and will be appreciated.

Create something that comes from YOU.

It could be a handwritten card, a little embroidery on a hankie, some cookies made from scratch, a simply sewn pin cushion, an ornament made from found objects, a collage of pretty pictures, a finger-painting made with your child, a snowman in the yard (Instagram him holding a message for your friend!), a crocheted granny square coaster, a handmade notebook of blank pages with a found-paper cover... these are just a few little ideas that pop into my head.

Stay away from DIY posts and Pinterest!

These days, it is too easy to get bogged down into the perceived perfection of Pinterest and the tyranny of step-by-step craft instructions. Today's the day to unplug from these distractions. Comparing yourself to others and following directions can be so detrimental to genuine creativity. Use your own ideas, your own resources, your own ingenuity... you will make something that is from you and your heart.

Make something out of nothing.

Be experimental. Be silly. Creativity comes from letting yourself go a little bit. If you worry about stitching a straight line, today's the day to zigzag. Just gather up all your creative supplies onto the table and see what emerges.

Enjoy the process. Making things is a lot of fun!

 Happy Monday.

Feed Sacks: Afternoon Tea and Book Party

This Sunday, November 27, the UPPERCASE studio will be transformed into an exhibition of gorgeous vintage feed sacks. Join us for tea and some sewing with feed sacks in celebration of the release of the Feed Sacks book. Books purchased in person come packaged in a dress print sack and make a beautiful and unique gift!

UPPERCASE studio, second floor of the Devenish Building
Suite 201b, 908 - 17th Ave SW


So. That was a week that will go down in history.

Although I often contemplate the subjects for days, I always write my weekly newsletter the night before or the morning of actually sending it. I want these emails to be conversational—my musings about what's happening behind the scenes, what I'm working on and what I'm thinking. I strive to make them uplifting, encouraging, inspiring.

I'm drawing a blank on how to do that this week.

The last time I wrote anything political in my newsletter was at the end of June and although the majority of people who responded to that message chimed in with sympathetic feelings, I had some pushback from a small number of newsletter readers. "Keep politics out of your posts," someone wrote.

Perhaps that's wise advice for a business to follow.

But that's not staying true to my values.

I believe in equality and acceptance of others. I believe in the rights of the LGBTQ community. I support immigration. I'm concerned about the environment. I am against racism, sexism, misogyny and the spreading of hatred.

These are the values you will see reflected in my magazine.

As you look through the current issue #31, you'll see that this has been on my mind. I strive to include a diversity of perspectives—and often these stories are coming directly from you, my readers. If you're a reader of this newsletter or magazine and feel under-represented, I encourage you to submit your art and your stories. I'd love to hear from you. 

Earlier this year, I gave away 100 subscriptions to individuals who couldn't afford them otherwise. Today, I'm pledging to do that again, but this time to non-profit community-minded organizations within Canada and the United States. If you work for a non-profit or know of one that would benefit from receiving some quarterly bursts of colour, art and inspiration, please make your suggestions here.

(If you'd like to sponsor a subscription for a fellow reader, that option remains in the online shop.)

Actually, now that I've written this message I'm starting to feel a bit better. There's always something you can do!

(This message was originally emailed to recipients of my weekly newsletter on November 15.)

Last weekend to enter the Surface Pattern Design issue!

This example is by Catarina Guerreiro, a Portuguese print designer who submitted a nice selection of prints.

This example is by Catarina Guerreiro, a Portuguese print designer who submitted a nice selection of prints.

The Surface Pattern Design Guide call for entries closes on Monday, September 12 at midnight in Calgary. No exceptions! Don't wait until the very last minute, either, since your artwork needs time to upload to the system. The UPPERCASE + Windham Fabrics New Design Competition also closes then—to be considered for this contest, just click the appropriate box on the form.

Issue 31 is on press today! Mailing data will be finalized next week, on Thursday, September 15, so make sure you've subscribedrenewed or updated your address. (Don't forget to use the code "fallforit" for $15 off subscriptions and renewals.) 

Have a nice (pattern-filled?) weekend!