The strike offs are sample fabric swatches, hand silkscreened to proof colour and registration.
Last November, I received a heavy carton... it was full of 29 rolls of my fabric, a preview from Windham Fabrics.
Glen and Finley were there to share in my excitement.
Finley was so taken with it, that he climbed inside to roll around!
So pretty! So satisfying!
There were a lot of steps involved once Windham Fabrics said yes to an UPPERCASE collection. Here are the highlights of the process.
The first part of the process is to whittle down two dozen spine patterns into a more practical number.
Next, I survey the typical UPPERCASE colours and create a representational palette of hues used most often.
I go through lots of ink cartridges printing off swatches and designs. I pair each design with the others to make sure everything is cohesive.
Getting the colour just right takes a lot of comparison. It’s so subjective as well as being at the mercy of technology.
Once the designs and colours have been approved, Windham creates handprinted strike offs so that I can approve the colour and printing registration.
How exciting and fulfilling to see my name and logo on the selvedge! Shown here on the fabric strike off samples.
I design quilt patterns and select existing sewing patterns and projects that will best show off the beauty and versatility of the UPPERCASE collection.
It’s really real!
Weeks later, and 29 rolls of fabric arrive at my door. It’s still top secret. I have to create a look book that will be used by sales reps to sell the collection to fabric stores.
Sew, sew, sew.
Time to set up my sewing machine (and enlist the help of some friends and my Mom) to start sewing the samples.
Make (and admire)
Some of the projects combine paper and fabric, like these recovered sketchbooks in all sorts of enticing patterns. I can’t wait for the collection to be out in the world!
Back in 2009, as I sketched the initial design concepts for the launch issue of UPPERCASE, I knew one thing for certain: the magazine had to be thick enough so that it would have a perfect bound spine. This decision determined how many pages of content I would need—and also set the foundation for one of the most recognizable design elements of the magazine: the patterns that grace its spine.
With each issue, I design a repeat pattern that references the content within. The inaugural issue had circles as a recurring motif—bubbles, balloons and polka dots—so it was natural to start with a simple dot pattern. The second issue had a melting ice cream cone on the cover and so I drew a waffle hatch. In issue 5, I moved away from simple geometrics to a motif I call “butterfly floral,” simple ditties that echo the butterflies that appear in the cover illustration.
Lines, waves, bow ties, droplets, zig zags… the spine patterns were stacking up nicely! Each had their own personality, but over the years, an UPPERCASE style and colour palette began to emerge—and so did the inkling of an idea. Wouldn’t it be lovely to turn these spine patterns into fabric some day?
I’ve always been personally interested in surface pattern design, fabric, sewing and quilting—and I know many of my readers are, too—so it was illuminating to find out more about the industry in issue 21’s Surface Pattern Design Guide. The guide featured 100 designers and illustrators as well as advice from industry experts and was released in spring 2014.
A short while after that issue was released, I received exciting news from Jan Avellana, the artist featured on the cover of the Surface Pattern Design Guide—Mickey Krueger, president of Windham Fabrics had noticed her work and signed her to contract. In fact, Windham found quite a few new artists through that issue.
In January 2015, I was invited to be a judge for QuiltCon and spent three intense days looking at hundreds of quilts. It was an amazing experience and quite a learning one, too, since I’ve never actually finished a quilt... yet! I did notice that there could be a niche for my patterns: simple yet interesting designs that could read as solids in both modern and traditional quilts.
In February of that year, I was filling subscription orders when I noticed that Mickey had renewed his subscription, so I sent a thank you email. The notion of UPPERCASE fabrics was still on my dream list, but I didn’t do anything about it just then. Later that month, Mickey wrote from Austin, where he was attending QuiltCon, to say that he was also fond of the quilt I had chosen for my Judge’s Choice, a stunning self-portrait by Melissa Averinos. I wasn’t able to attend QuiltCon in person, so I mustered up my virtual courage and sent the following message, with an attached photo showing a stack of magazines:
“I’m sure you have no shortage of ideas, but I’ve often dreamed that the spine patterns I create for each issue of UPPERCASE could be really nice for quilt fabrics!”
Just hours later, he replied, “Fabric? Wanna talk?”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The UPPERCASE collection from Windham Fabrics will be on sale in fabric stores in June!
I'm amazed and grateful that we reached the initial project goal of $60,000 in only twelve days. That'll cover the production costs of Feed Sacks and Botanica.
My stretch goal is $90,000... the additional $30,000 would cover the production costs of the third volume, Stitch•illo. Regardless, I'm committed to publishing all three volumes.
I'm so buoyed by your enthusiasm for the project! Thank you!!!
Truly incredible, we're almost at my launch goal of $60,000 in pre-orders... fully a month before my timeline of the end of May!
The Early Bird pre-order pricing ends tonight, May 1, at midnight! Save $20 off the 3-volume Encyclopedia set while supporting the project in this pre-order stage. Full details over here.
As of Friday afternoon, 430 UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration book sets have been pre-ordered!
The Early Bird pricing ends on May 1, so if you'd like to support this project and save $20, now's your chance! Pre-order the set here.
When a quilter completes a quilt, she starts another one, pulling from her ready stash of fabric and ideas. A painter finishes a painting and it's scarcely dry before his brushes start transforming a new canvas. An illustrator sketches in her notebook, fills up a page with ideas and doodles, and turns the finished page over for a new, blank sheet.
When I send an issue of the magazine off to print and I'm already deeply immersed in the next issue. If I have an idea for a book, I can't simply just let it be. It has to be made! Making books and magazines is my craft.
Since launching the UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration last Wednesday, you've shown me just how much you appreciate my craft. As of today, Wednesday April 27, we've reached 70% of the project launch goal of $60,000. I did not anticipate such an amazing reaction in just one week and I am truly heartened and grateful and excited by your enthusiasm. It seems I've struck a chord with the Encyclopedia concept!
Pre-orders fund the production costs of creating each volume: paying authors, scanning and photography costs, prepress and print production.
Please support the Encyclopedia project by pre-ordering the first 3-volume set at the Early Bird price of $100 ($145 outside North America). The prices include shipping of the three volumes. The price will increase to $120 in North America and $165 outside of North America after May 1.
Thank you so much for appreciating this craft of making unique books and magazines.
Wow, such a great reaction to the UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration book project that was launched on Wednesday. Really, UPPERCASE readers are the most enthusiastic and generous and talented people around. Thank you so much.
Please tell your friends about the project. Your submissions are most welcome, too.
Thank you for an amazing response to the UPPERCASE Encyclopedia of Inspiration launch yesterday.
In less than 24 hours, 117 people have already pre-ordered their book sets! That's 20% towards the initial crowdfunding goal of $60,000 towards the printing and production of the books.
I'd love to keep that momentum going—and the quicker I can fund this project, the more time I'll have to dedicate to creating, editing and designing...
The Early Bird pricing of $100 for the 3-book set (shipped in North America, $145 shipped outside of North America) is on until May 1.
I'm so excited to share with you this new multi-volume book project:
So you might be asking... "An encyclopedia? What do you mean? Who prints an encyclopedia in this day and age?"
When I'm working on UPPERCASE magazine, there are always topics that I come across that I wish I could dedicate more time and pages to. Ideas that are larger than what a magazine can hold. People and projects that I know UPPERCASE readers would love. Ideas that percolate in my head and grow into something bigger, broader and better... until I can't help but admit that I've got another book idea on my hands! The Encyclopedia concept is a framework for unifying seemingly unrelated topics into a cohesive editorial vision.
As avid readers of my magazine and previous books will know, I have a soft spot for outdated, analogue artifacts like typewriters and vintage textiles. Good old-fashioned encyclopedias are steeped in a similar nostalgia for me. Can you imagine the fun and excitement of a salesman coming to your home to sell you a set of books? Or of cutting out a coupon in a magazine and sending away via mail order for your first volume?
This project is a new take on the notion of an Encyclopedia. Each volume will be a full creative exploration of a particular topic, released in whimsical order. (You can arrange them alphabetically on your bookshelf if you're so inclined!) They'll be beautifully produced and printed and each book will be designed to fit within the set. I know how much you love collecting UPPERCASE magazines for their beautiful shelf presence and timeless content—the volumes in this Encyclopedia will be similarly covetable. So who commits to printing a multi-volume Encyclopedia these days? UPPERCASE does!
It's also open-ended. There is no shortage of inspiring topics to be explored and I look forward to adding more volumes to the project over the years. For the launch edition, I'm working on three volumes: FEED SACKS, a pattern sourcebook written by Linzee Kull McCray;BOTANICA, a fascination of all things floral through art, craft and lifestyle; and STITCH•ILLO, artists and illustrators telling stories through stitching and textiles.
"How're you going to fund this? Why not Kickstarter?"
Curating, writing, editing, designing and printing a book is an expensive process. The editorial and production costs will average $35,000 per volume. My goal is to raise $60,000 towards these costs by the end of May.
Although I debated using Kickstarter, I know that you—my dear readers—are the folks who will be excited about this project the most. And we're in this together, it's not all or nothing like Kickstarter. I'm committed to making these books! Plus with all the experience and systems I have in place from my previous book projects, launching this on my own makes it easier in the long run. The enthusiasm of UPPERCASE readers has motivated me for the past seven years and I know you'll continue to do so. Thank you!
So please show your support for the project during this early making phase. Feed Sacks in underway and slated for publication in October. Botanica and Stitch•illo are also in progress and I'll announce their anticipated publication dates soon. Full descriptions are on the project site.
Support the Encyclopedia project by pre-ordering the first 3-volume set at the Early Bird price of $100 ($145 outside North America). The prices include shipping of the three volumes. The price will increase to $120 in North America and $165 outside of North America after May 1.
"Can I get published in the Encyclopedia?"
Yes! Involving my readers is one of the joys of curating content for my projects. There's no entry fee to submit, please visit the Participate page to find out how you can submit your work for consideration.
So, that's what I've been working towards these past weeks... and some of these book concepts have been years in the making. There's even more detail over on the project launch site.
It's exhilarating (and scary) to put this out into the world at last.
Thank you for your support!
Carla Sonheim is hosting a new class with instructor Cat Bennett. You might recall our feature about Cat in issue 27 of UPPERCASE. “Making Art a Practice: In and Out of the Sketchbook” is a 6-week online course that includes 12 video classes. "We’ll spend two days drawing in the sketchbook with a focus on colour, line and shape," describes Cat, "and then jump out of the sketchbook to do a bigger project. We’ll draw and paint the world around us— food, clothes and the objects in our homes, plants and landscape, and people. And we’ll do so in different ways—painting using only lines, making cut-paper images using only shapes, then bringing line and shape together in different ways."
"Our goal is to draw and paint in experimental ways and to get ideas for our own work. We’ll mostly work on a larger scale outside of the sketchbook and try things out. We’ll approach everything we do with a spirit of adventure and discovery!"
To watch a video of Cat and to register, please visit the Carla Sonheim website.
Thank you to Carla for her continued support of UPPERCASE magazine and its original content through a Calling Card ad.
I'm so excited to be part of Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells as part of a special ‘live review’ for MATS (Make Art That Sells) Part A and Part B. These self-paced courses are on sale NOW until Friday, April 8.
Lilla and I will be getting together (virtually) to offer comments and reviews of some of the assignments created for her course. The best assignments will be featured in future issues of UPPERCASE magazine!
A quick flip through the new issue:
Or a more leisurely low-res scroll:
Either way, UPPERCASE is best enjoyed in person... in glorious ink on paper!
Subscribe or renew today with the code "hoorayforspring" for $15 off.
I'm pleased to announce that I'm going to be part of Lilla Rogers' Make Art That Sells as part of a special ‘live review’ for MATS (Make Art That Sells) Part A and Part B self-paced courses in April. Lilla and I will be getting together (virtually) to offer comments and reviews of some of the assignments created for her course.
Here's more info from Lilla's announcement:
Who is eligible to participate?
In order to participate you must be registered for MATS A and/or MATS B by Monday 11 April. There will be two reviews, one in each classroom, so if you are registered for both A and B you will get access to TWO brand new assignments and TWO chances to get your work in front of Lilla and Janine!
So what do I have to do to get my work in front of Lilla and Janine?
You will need to complete one or both assignments by the deadline given in class, and upload it to a dedicated online gallery. Lilla and Janine will view every single piece in the gallery, and then choose a selection of pieces to include in the review based on what they think will be most valuable for everyone in class to learn from. A video recording of the review will then be shared in class a few days later. It is an incredible opportunity to hear from both a top magazine editor and a top agent. Whether they are talking about your submission or someone else’s piece, there will be a ton of takeaways that you can drink up to feed your own work.
What markets will be covered?
That's hush-hush right now. All will be revealed shortly…
When will the assignment be released and due?
The assignments will be released on Monday April 11, 2016 and will be due by Monday April 25, 2016. The review will take place shortly after that.
For more info, see the announcement.
Lilla and I are very excited about this and look forward to seeing your work!
Hello spring, hello new issue! Number 29 is done and is on its way to subscribers worldwide! I received my advance copies and they are lovely. Here's the stack of subscriber copies waiting to go through mailing:
Can you smell the ink from where you are?
Each issue has a couple randomly inserted bookmarks featuring the illustrations and designs submitted by twenty artists. They were sent a stack of 50 bookmarks for their own use and thanks to quick couriers, some have already received their sample bookmarks, like Gabriela Larios and Pippa Shaw featured in the photo above. It was really fun to pair the front and back illustrations with one another!
The reader participation in each issue is really integral to the magazine. The open call for the summer issue is open until the end of March and I look forward to your submission. I love the surprise of what you submit!
I'm attempting to finish up a truckload of work today so that I can spend the rest of the week at home since Finley has the entire week off from school. I have some sewing plans, too!
Have a beautiful week!
Use the code "hoorayforspring" for CAD$15 off subscriptions and renewals. Select the two-year option from the dropdown menu and save another $30 off. Combine that with the discount code and you can get a two years of UPPERCASE for just CAD$115 ($88 USD) for a North America subscriptions. That's just CAD$14.38 ($11 USD) per issue.
Click here to view a preview of the entire issue.
I had the pleasure of sending some good news today to Aga Kobylinska, the winner of the Make It In Design Module 3 Giveaway! Aga is a surface pattern designer based in Warsaw, Poland.
"It’s wonderful, vibrant city, full of fantastic opportunities," she writes. "I love to live and work here. But I’m also addicted to travels! I’m constantly fascinated by the beauty of nature, cultural diversity and human creativity."
When I asked her how she felt about being the recipient of the free class, in which she'll learn how to monetize her surface pattern designs, Aga replied, "I've never felt ready enough to send you my portfolio for review so I'm amazed by your email even more." I think that's a very common feeling... we never think our portfolio is good enough or ready or finished. I'm glad that Aga and the dozens of other artists took the leap to share their work with all of us. Having the confidence to share your work is the first step in building a successful career.
If you're wondering how Aga was selected, I read all 77 comments and clicked over to the participants' links. (Remember to read contest directions carefully! It is stated clearly in italics that to enter you must include a link to your website or instagram. If you don't have a portfolio yet, then you're not quite ready for this class.) From reviewing the links, I narrowed it down to 12 of the best portfolios and then the team at Make it in Design selected the winner.
Jennifer Nelson, contributor to the October/November/December issue #27, is offering an intensive 3-day online workshop hosted by Modern Thrive entitled "How to Get an Agent (and Do I Really Need One?)." This live online workshop will take place March 16th-18th at 2pm EST. From assessing your career to making a plan to understanding how artist representation works, Jennifer will present real-world knowledge about a career in illustration.
Jennifer is a professional artist's agent and the founder of a Boston-based illustration agency Jennifer Nelson Artists. She has spent more than twenty-five years working in the art world as an art director, designer and agent.
Save $20 on your registration with discount code "UppercaseVIP." Sign up here. Hurry, the course starts March 16!
This guest post is by Tatjana Mai-Wyss, a freelance illustrator in South Carolina. She was our correspondent at last week's Makers Summit in Greenville.
Last weekend I was lucky enough to spend a couple of inspiring days at the Makers Summit in Greenville, South Carolina. This conference is billed as an “event designed for creative entrepreneurs who want to grow successful businesses". I was impressed to learn that the guests and attendees had come from all over the country. How lucky for me to live less than an hour away!
The event takes place on the 5th floor of a new office building in the middle of the city. The space is bright and airy; two floors connected by an open staircase with great views of downtown Greenville. The workshops, peer group meetings and expert consultations are held in various classrooms, while the keynote speakers and discussion panels bring everyone back to the stage area.
On Friday, keynote speaker Justina Blakeney kicks things off with a bang. She is enthusiastic, colorful and engaging in person, and her talk makes a definite impression on everyone. Throughout the weekend speakers refer back to her thoughts on finding your passion, focusing on your goals (remember your “north star”) and prioritizing your worklife. Personally I like the part about “moving on”, finishing a project and moving through to the next thing without obsessing too much. (My new mantra will be: "is it good enough?”) I’m impressed by how approachable and charming she is, and enjoy meeting her later over succotash and bourbon/ginger ale cocktails at the “Best Craft Party Ever."
Most of our lives as creatives are spent in our offices/studios and on our own, so the best part (and also the most challenging sometimes) is being part of a group and meeting so many interesting people in such a short amount of time. It’s so much fun to know that your badge gives you licence to walk up to a stranger and ask any amount of questions over your morning coffee.
Speaking of coffee, the food at the summit deserves mention. There is stylish coffee (and fresh smoothies) throughout the weekend, beautiful (and delicious) cakes for Friday’s coffee break, three fun venues for Friday’s party (my favorite is an outdoor terrace with colorful cushions and twinkly lights) and a decadent breakfast buffet on Saturday. Homemade donuts for saturday’s coffee break continue the party atmosphere, and now that I think of it, the emphasis on good food might be a southern thing.
The focus of this conference is really on making something concrete and getting it out there, so the discussion panels centre on resources and funding for small businesses, scaling up and managing a growing business, and marketing all around. The panelists have a good variety of approaches and perspectives and answer questions thoughtfully.
Workshops, peer group and expert sessions can be a bit more customizable and let you ask questions specific to your experience.
It will probably take some time for me to digest all the information from the Makers Summit, but I’m very glad I went, and very happy to have made new friends and experiences.
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 Module 3 class of The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design worth $CAD680 (£359)!
Module 3 – ‘Monetising your designs’, is a five-week online course where you will learn everything you need to know to monetise your designs! The classroom can be accessed around the clock so you can join from anywhere in the world, and fit the course into your busy life.
The course details the major money-making opportunities available to you as a designer, including; freelancing, licensing, selling outright, manufacturing and more! Module 3 also includes free access to leading trend forecasting site WGSN for a limited period AND the Make it in Design little black book of industry contacts!
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 class includes the following:
• How to identify multiple streams of income for your designs
• How to sell and license your designs (what they don’t teach you at art school!)
• The ins and outs of freelancing
• How to get into manufacturing your own product
• How to choose the right distribution channel for you
• How to negotiate a contract that is right for you
• How not to get ripped off
• How to manage your time and money
• How to manage stock levels
• How to get a job in design
• How to stay motivated
• How to create a pattern portfolio to show to potential clients
• How to apply patterns to mock-up product templates and room sets
• How to turn a placement print into a technical repeat for wallpaper or fabric
• How to design a Trade Show Brochure in Adobe Illustrator
Invaluable industry information such as colour print specifications for both paper goods and textiles.
You will do this by actually creating a mini portfolio for potential licensing clients; a trade show plan and a business development plan.
PLUS you will learn everything you need to know about trade shows (getting in, getting ready and getting customers!)
AND the Make it in Design money-can’t-buy bonus little black book of industry contacts!
And if that wasn’t enough, you also get full access to leading trend forecasting site WGSN for 90 days (this alone is worth more than the entire cost of the course!
One place on The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – Module 3 ‘Monetising Your Designs’ runs for 5 weeks from April 4, 2016, delivered online)
How to enter:
Check out the course website to find out more about it, then head back here and leave a comment at the bottom of the post in 50 words telling us why this course would benefit you right now and how it could transform your career. You must include a link to your website or Instagram to be considered.
Deadline: March 14 Any comments left after this time will not be counted. The winner will be jointly selected by UPPERCASE editor Janine Vangool and The Make it in Design team and announced on March 17.
Terms and Conditions:
This competition is to win a place on Module 3: Monetising your designs starting April 4, 2016. 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 for your entry to be promoted on the Make it in Design and Uppercase website and their associated social networks. If you have already signed up for the April Module 3 class and are selected as the winner you will be offered a refund.