Let the design marathon begin!

It's my annual Labour Day Weekend design marathon! These are last few days before the fall issue heads to the printer. Your subscription would be great encouragement... thank you. (If you're a brand new subscriber, start with #22 and I'll ship that to you on Tuesday and #23 will follow in October.)

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The cover reveal!

How will a sweater look with a particular yarn? What will a quilt look like when it's done? How will inks layer in a silkscreen? How will a sketch translate to final art? How will the ceramic vase look when glazed and fired?

When you embark on creating something new, it's all about having confidence in your ideas—and the ability to visualize what you want. The same is true in design for print: although you can approximate how something will appear in print, there are plenty of instances when you have to use your imagination, have faith in your idea and just go for it. 

I've been imagining the next cover to have a shiny silver foil on the spine and on the number 23. Like this:

In contrast to the summer colour issue, the fall edition is decidedly toned down in hue—but not in inspiration or creative excitement!

Celebrating things monochromatic—and the graphic appeal of black and white—issue #23 contains a special calligraphy and lettering section featuring Seb Lester (the cover artist who created this fun calligraphic grocery list), master penman Jake Weidmann and profiles of Joy Deneen, Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, Erica McPhee, Barbara Calzolari, Neil Tasker, Pietro Piscitelli and Molly Jacques. The experts offer tips for beginners and our talented pool of readers share their amazing calligraphy work as well.

This issue also has articles about modern-day heraldry and how to use tradition and crests to design your brand; silver spoons painted and collected; the dynamic mother-daughter duo Tag Team Tompkins; a field trip to an in-house sign painter at an old-fashioned department store; a visit with the enigmatic inhabitants of a House of Cardboard; and a trip to a Parisian calligraphy guild.

I've got one week left to get the design finished up and off it goes to the printer! 

 

Want to keep that summer feeling? You can still subscribe starting with issue #22. I'll mail it to you right away and then you'll get the fall issue when it is released in October. Or if already have a copy of #22, subscriptions starting with fall are available here.

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Face Books

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Artist Alison Stockmarr pokes fun at Facebook by imagining 'Face Books' of old. She pairs oddly-titled old books, found photographs and cut up lines of text to create curious personalities. She writes:

By matching old photographs with suitably titled books, profiles are constructed, creating a library of invented friends of yesteryear. Apertures are cut into books, with photos and ephemera collaged within their pages. Appropriate, and sometimes inappropriate, narratives are composed to complete the picture! I hope you ‘like’ them.

The spine pattern for fall

The fall issue is heading to print just after Labour Day and I look forward to revealing the cover design, featuring the work of Seb Lester, on Tuesday! (Subscribe to my newsletter to see it first.) In the meantime, here's the pattern design I've developed, inspired by the content within the issue. In addition to the special calligraphy and lettering section in the fall issue, we also explore the influence of heraldry on traditional and contemporary art and design.

Starting from the observation that a calligraphy nib is somewhat shield-like and also thinking about the souvenir spoons that are featured in the Collections spread, I did some studies of the nib shape and shield shapes, ultimately going in this simple repeat so that the overlap of the shield vaguely references the split in a nib. It can't be too detailed or illustrative since it will be reproduced quite small (and in silver foil! I hope!) on the magazine's spine.

I can see foxes and bears in the motif as well, can you?

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Featured Stockist: Kasa Suasa

What a gorgeous shot by Malaysian stockist Kasa Suasa for their webstore! Their site's intro photographs are top notch — go take a look and click through — you'll find a series of lovely still life composition featuring UPPERCASE and other magazines like Hearth and Cereal and cards by Rifle Paper Company and Garance Doré. 

Beautiful Books by Bari Zaki

UPPERCASE reader Bari Zaki makes these gorgeous books using traditional European and Japanese techniques. In addition to blank books, box-making, she also binds photography portfolios and photo albums.

Bari writes:

I have been a hand-bookbinder for 25 years and so your recent newsletters had a particular resonance with me. My career began with a simple yet intense curiosity; I saw a blank book that was made by hand and it sent my heart into a pitter-patter of delight… How do you do that, I wondered?!  I went in search. Since then I have made literally hundreds of books and have several stacks of them in my home, which have become permanent fixtures.

"Many people say to me that they love my books but they are too special to write in… I hear that a lot in fact. I thought about scribbling on the first page as an ode to making the first mess, so to speak." Whether they are left blank to be admired for their integral beauty of form and construction, or filled with sketches and notes, Bari's books live up to the ultimate goal of any book: to inspire.

Visit Bari's shop to see more. 

Fear of the blank page

I have a collection of blank sketchbooks and journals that I’m afraid to make a mark in for fear that what I commit to paper won’t be good enough to match my expectations. There's a gorgeous hardcover blank book covered in Marimekko fabric that I intended to start as a daily record of my business thoughts and goals when I moved into my new office space… a year ago. It’s still blank, but as the months pass, that simple notebook is becoming more of a burden. I see it perched on my shelf, chiding me. The past year didn’t turn out as I imagined or planned. Moving my studio after eight years in Art Central (a 3-storey commercial arts complex slated for demolition) turned out to be just the opening act for a very challenging year.

Unless I disassociate my expectations about what this past year was supposed to be like, I suspect I will never do anything with that notebook.

Have you ever not started a project in order to avoid the risk of failure? 

As creatives, we dance with failure on a daily basis. Whether we flirt with disaster by using a temperamental medium, or endure the uncertainty that comes with being a freelance designer or illustrator, the potential for failure (and success) is immense. It’s part thrilling, part paralyzing. 

Keep moving!

 

This article originally appeared in my weekly newsletter on August 5. To read it in its illustrated entirety, click here and to hear stories and advice from UPPERCASE readers, click here.

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Marbling: the "tie-dye" of paper

For the Makers offers creative kits of supplies to make a curated gathering of themed crafts. Their latest offering is named Veritas and inspired by paper marbling. With the kit, you'll make a marbled notebook, marbled pens, a locket as well as an old school felt pennant. Their site offers all the instructions and the kit themselves are a delight to receive—beautifully curated and nicely presented in small kraft boxes of a limited edition. I received of couple of their previous kits recently and look forward to some downtime to immerse myself in assembling and making.

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Shabd Simon-Alexander: Dye it, Wear it, Share it.

Booth sketch for Shabd by Caroline Zucchero Hurley.

Booth sketch for Shabd by Caroline Zucchero Hurley.

Shabd's booth at NYNow, a home and lifestyle event on until Wednesday.

Shabd's booth at NYNow, a home and lifestyle event on until Wednesday.

Instagram photo by @carozucchero of @shabdshabd space.

Instagram photo by @carozucchero of @shabdshabd space.

Shabd's colour testing for a secret project.

Shabd's colour testing for a secret project.

Shabd Simon-Alexander is a tie-dye expert (she wrote the book on it! We feature an excerpt from it in the current issue). She is showing her new products at NYNow, and an email about the show prompted me to head over to her Instagram to see more. Click on the images above to view in Instagram and you'll find some colourful and creative accounts to follow!

Calling Card: The Paper Flea Market

Trina Lucido is an artist and paper enthusiast. "I can't resist beautiful paper, old or new, and see potential in every piece I find," she says. "These papers find their way into my artwork which includes greeting cards, art journals, mixed media pieces and home decor." As her collection of papers and haberdashery grew, Trina decided to open up shop as The Paper Flea Market to share her finds with other paper and vintage lovers. 

She has scrapbookers' cuts of vintage wallpaper, lovely old hat labels, vintage buttons on cards (I can't resist a good old button!) and so much more... like any good flea, there's lots to discover!

The Paper Flea Market is the first official Calling Card that will appear in the fall issue of UPPERCASE. In addition to the ad appearing in lovely ink on paper in 10,000 copies of the magazine, a Calling Card ad will reside on the UPPERCASE blog sidebar for the duration of the forthcoming issue. I'll also share the ad with my Twitter followers and do a blog post, such as this one, to offer as much value as I possibly can to your $400 investment. The next issue goes to print after the Labour Day weekend, so there's still time to get your Calling Card if you get in touch soon. I look forward to sharing more Calling Card profiles here in the blog over the next weeks. Please click the Calling Cards already on the sidebar to discover more.

To make your Calling Card, choose an image that best represents you, your product or service (squarish image 3 inches wide at 300dpi ), then click here to upload it and get your Calling Card ad designed by me and shared with the UPPERCASE community. You'll be supporting UPPERCASE content creation, boosting your profile, be immortalized in print and be serving the community with your creative offerings.

Thank you to The Paper Flea Market!

Collector's Edition

Irma Boom photographed by Ivan Jones

Irma Boom photographed by Ivan Jones

As a book-lover and designer/publisher of books, I'm always interested when a new compilation of design work comes out. It is a chance to discover interesting formats, designs and "why didn't I think of that!" ideas all in one place. I'm immersed in the design of The Typewriter book which, at 320 pages currently, is quite the undertaking. I printed out a mini mockup to work on the page flow, which reminded me of Irma Book's tiny book.

Sample spread from Collector’s Edition, Innovative Packaging and Graphics by Stuart Tolley

Sample spread from Collector’s Edition, Innovative Packaging and Graphics by Stuart Tolley

“The future for book designers is becoming more and more interesting. I think we are in the Renaissance period of making books. I have to think about why something should be a book and not a website. This challenge makes me want to continue designing books.” –Irma Boom

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Art Director Stuart Tolley wholeheartedly agrees with the importance of creating physical design objects. Through publisher Thames & Hudson, he has produced Collector's Edition: Innovative Packaging and Graphics: "a visual culture book showcasing the new wave of beautifully produced, limited edition, large format, graphic design and packaging for music, book, magazines."

The book is organized into sections categorized by boxed sets, multiples, handmade and 'extras' such as collectible memorabilia and objects.

If you're in London, the book launches with an exhibition running from August 19 to 31. Find out more here. I look forward to adding Collector's Edition to my library.

Lisa Congdon's Art Inc.

Lisa Congdon's new book Art Inc. photographed with an original painting that Lisa gave to me.

Lisa Congdon's new book Art Inc. photographed with an original painting that Lisa gave to me.

I'm pleased to be part of the blog tour for Lisa Congdon's just-released book, Art Inc: The Essential Guide for Building your Career as an Artist. I've witnessed Lisa's growth as an artist and I am happy that we have collaborated quite frequently over the years.

In the early days of UPPERCASE, before it was a magazine, I ran a small gallery and bookstore. The exhibitions included artists from around the world, and Lisa was a frequent participant. (During this trip down memory lane, I'l be linking to old posts and articles on an antique version of the UPPERCASE website.) I exhibited Lisa's work as early as 2006, for the Big Little Show.

Her work at the time was mostly collage-based, with touches of painting and geometric decoration. In 2008's Old School exhibition and book, I sent artists packs of school-related ephemera for inspiration and inclusion in artworks. Lisa's submission in a shadow box was one of my favourites. (Old School is out of print, but you can see more here.)

In 2009, a theme of Bonfires was presented both as a gallery show and an article in an early issue of UPPERCASE. (Issue 3, out of print.) By this time, Lisa was doing much more painting and incorporating handlettering in her work.

The vintage ephemera of her early collages would later play an integral role in our biggest collaboration, the publication of the book A Collection a Day. In 2010, Lisa embarked on a year-long project to document her collection daily online through photos and the occasional drawing of arrangements from her curious collections. I began following her daily blog post right from the beginning and for months I thought to myself, "This would be an amazing book." I was expecting a baby that March and put the idea aside thinking that some big publisher would swoop in! But even late nights with a new baby couldn't dampen my interest and to my great pleasure, Lisa agreed to publish the book with me!

At 448 pages, this thick tome of a book is packaged in a collector's tin where you can keep your own little collections. Full of vintage ephemera, inspiring typography and curious oddities, A Collection a Day is a highlight of the UPPERCASE library.

Baby Finley in one of his first gigs as hand model.

Baby Finley in one of his first gigs as hand model.

Finley opens the tin to reveal the book inside.

Finley opens the tin to reveal the book inside.

Here's Lisa at the opening and book launch for A Collection a Day at The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco.

Here's Lisa at the opening and book launch for A Collection a Day at The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco.

So that brings us to 2011 and the release of Collection a Day. Meanwhile, Lisa's illustration career was on at full speed. Lisa was also a profiled artist in 2011's Work/Life 2: the UPPERCASE directory of illustration.

Lisa's studio in 2011.

Lisa's studio in 2011.

Fast forward to fall of 2013, Issue 19, and UPPERCASE magazine featured Lisa's travel sketchbook from a trip to Iceland. She also wrote and photographed an article about Alvar Aalto for that issue.

Over these years, Lisa has learned a lot. She is someone who pushes herself to learn, to improve, to explore uncharted territory. She has shared the stories of her high and lows, the ups and downs, on her blog in her forthright and personal style. With the release of Art Inc., she has created a precise and inspiring guide on how to make a career as an artist. Published by Chronicle Books (and illustrated by Work/Life 3 artist Karolin Schnoor), Art Inc. is the go-to companion for advice on how to start your journey as a professional artist... and how to stay motivated and to grow your artistic practice as you mature in your art.

Many congratulations to Lisa on adding 'published book author' to her long list of creative accomplishments. I'm honoured to have worked with you so many times along the way.

 

Art Inc. is available to purchase directly from Chronicle Books or wherever books are sold. The other books mentioned are by UPPERCASE and available in my shop (if they're still in print). Lisa has signed copies of A Collection a Day in her Etsy shop as well.

My picks on BRIKA

This silk scarf by Shana Frase pairs well with the colour charts article in this issue.

This silk scarf by Shana Frase pairs well with the colour charts article in this issue.

These bangles are made by artisans in Swaziland, but could be a good idea for older magazines (if you could bear to cut one up!)

These bangles are made by artisans in Swaziland, but could be a good idea for older magazines (if you could bear to cut one up!)

These earrings by Upper Metal Class remind me of the colour wheel motif on the current issue's spine pattern.

These earrings by Upper Metal Class remind me of the colour wheel motif on the current issue's spine pattern.

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I've got a guest post up on BRIKA today! Here are some other picks that match up with the current issue. UPPERCASE readers can enjoy 15% off their purchases on BRIKA with the code UPPERCASE15 until September 1, 2014.

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An English diversion to enjoy

 

Unit Twelve is a contemporary craft workshop and exhibition space in a stunning rural location in Staffordshire, United Kingdom. It hosts a regularly changing programme of exhibitions, with complementary art workshops run by Jennifer Collier, Print Garage and exhibiting artists. 

A French diversion to enjoy

Thanks to Diane at Tag Team Tompkins for the link!

Work/Life series: just 99 copies of the second edition left!

Here's a reminder of the book that I released last year. The Work/Life series features illustrators from around the world.

The first edition is sold out and there are just 99 copies left of Work/Life 2 available before it is out of print! Put Work/Life 3 in your cart and get a special price offer on Work/Life 2.

With the third edition of Work/Life, I pushed the personal nature of Work/Life to a new level. This edition's theme is "An Illustrated Life" in which we explore the ups and downs of illustration and what it takes to stay creative 24/7. Each participant offers their unique take on this theme and have created an original illustration based on a bespoke assignment specific to their interests and story that I assigned. Unlike awards annuals or traditional illustration directories, our publication is personal. Artists were individually interviewed about their creative focus and artistic technique as well as their inspirations and aspirations. Additional imagery (sketchbook pages, studio shots, inspirational objects) are integral to each participant’s spread, allowing the reader to take a peek into their entire work/life. 

Shelley takes her illustration for a walk

Shelley Davies (the talented and generous illustrator of the current cover) took her collage for a walk in her beautiful garden. And then she took it to the beach!

Shelley is a joy to work with and is so generous to me with her creativity... these photographs just showed up in my inbox as a surprise!

In addition to collage, Shelley also explores painting, photography and dreams of illustrating a children's book. If any of my enterprising and publishing readers are looking for an illustrator, get in touch with Shelley. And if you're looking to follow a blog full of excellent discoveries on creativity and art, her blog is a great resource.

Take your illustrations and sketchbooks for a walk in the great outdoors this weekend. Share your images on Twitter and Instagram #illustrationoutside #uppercasereader @uppercasemag. Have a good weekend!

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Featured Stockist: Article Dublin

I'm thrilled that UPPERCASE is stocked in Article, this gorgeous shop in Dublin. Oh, to be everywhere my magazine gets to be!

Saturated colours

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I'm enjoying the colours on Kristin Nicholas' Instagram.

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Cat People

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Beata Kruszynski submitted her portfolio. She writes, succinctly: "I draw illustrations with typography, nature, cats, and snacks."