Nutmegger Workshop sees making signs as an art form

When I'm sifting through reader submissions, I never know what I'll find. From a fresh-faced illustrator hoping to get their first published piece or a seasoned creative who has turned a new leaf and is looking to share their new direction... surprise and delight are the hallmarks of a good submission.

The work of Peter Vogel of Nutmegger Workshop in Portland, Oregon prompted an immediate response from me—I began to follow him on Twitter, sent out a tweet, emailed a thank you and planned this blog post.

Peter introduced himself as a "30-year graphic designer/design director/creative director now making vintage sign art." His talent for lettering and his love of old signage is combined into his business of making vintage-looking signs. His signs are not meant as functional signage—they don't fabricate signs and to site installations—rather the signs are art meant to be hung interior settings, somewhat like charming set decoration or as interior design features. 

"Generations ago, sign writers were a busy, sought-after bunch, but the heyday of their hand-lettered art was no match for the rising tide of digital sign-making technology. Nutmegger Workshop was created to celebrate the alluring charm of this long-forgotten art form. It is our mission to offer the finest period reproductions and original designs — handcrafted works of typographic art that add unique personality to any well-designed space."

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Nutmegger gallery of signs and read more about Peter's approach to his art.

modern day Q and A

Is there something you've always wanted to know about UPPERCASE? Do you want to take a look at something specific behind the scenes? Do you have a question for me about the current issue?

Join my media experiment and send a tweet or Instagram question to @uppercasemag #uppercaseQ and I will answer your question with a quick Instagram video.

Keep track of the Qs and As over here.

my top three tips for the perfect pitch

Last week I was interviewed by writer Christine Chitnis for her forthcoming online course, Pitch Perfect. Available through Squam Art Workshops, this 4-week course will give you the foundation for creating professional pitches. Whether you're a writer or an artist or artisan trying to get your work published, it's an informative and worthwhile course. 

I receive pitches daily, so I've seen my fair share of great and not-so-great pitches. Here are my tips on creating a solid pitch.

please note: If you've never communicated personally with me before and are pitching an idea to UPPERCASE, it is very important to follow the instructions posted on the submissions page. First off, it tells me that you have done some research by reading the website and secondly—and importantly!—it shows me that you can follow and respect direction... Definitely something I take into consideration when commissioning someone to create content or an illustration.

1. know the magazine

Know our audience, the tone of our writing and be familiar with past issues as to not pitch a topic close to something we have recently covered. From my perspective, if a person wants to be in the pages of UPPERCASE, they will have made the effort to read past issues and (bonus!) already be a subscriber.


2. understand what makes a good article

Communicate the story of an artist or how they fit into the UPPERCASE ethos rather than just showing a sample from a portfolio.


3. pitch something original

If someone has been amply covered in big magazines, then they're generally not a good fit for UPPERCASE. We naturally shy away from celebrity and fame, that's just not what UPPERCASE is about. Strangely, I have received submissions where the author introduces the pitch saying they read about so-and-so on such-and-such blog or magazine and would like the opportunity to write something for us. Why would we want to do something that has already been done?

Bonus tip for illustrators and photographers: include examples of your work in your pitch! I'm perplexed when I receive emails from illustrators who send generic messages saying they would like to work with me, but have just sent a text-based message and ask me to click over to their website to see. It is so easy to attach an image and makes a much better—and quick—impression. You may have only just sent one pitch out that day, but the editor receiving yours has likely seen dozens. Our submission form allows you to upload examples, so it is easy to select your best jpg and upload it. Oh, and never send unsolicited files via a file transfer service like Hightail—that's the equivalent of trying to force your way into someone's home uninvited. 

Be patient once you've sent in your pitch or portfolio. Definitely don't email an editor a few days later asking, "Did you get my submission?"

I spend a time every few weeks combing through all the submissions. Ideas submitted months earlier might start to fit into emerging content themes. It definitely will take a while before you hear from me, but know that I have received your idea and am giving it careful consideration. I appreciate that you are entrusting not only your ideas with me, but often your hopes and dreams of getting published.

brilliant animated ode to print registration marks

Typewriter Notes

Typewriter Notes is a box set of 20 different cards capturing the timeless appeal of the typewriter. Published by Chronicle Books, I curated and designed the set. It features photographs by UPPERCASE readers. The cover photo is by Jane Bernstein.

In addition to a few of my own photos, there are photographs by Brianne Walk, Andrea Corrona Jenkins, Cari Wayman, Celina Wyss, Cori Kindred, Denise Regan, Jane Bernstein, Joanna Brown, Sarah Book, Shelley Davies, Svenja Schulte-Dahmen, Tracey Ayton and Vanessa Pham.

Thank you to Caitlin and Kristen at Chronicle Books for being so lovely to work with!

Sets can be purchased in our online shop along with Shoegazing Notecards, a previous collaboration with Chronicle. Thanks!

wonderfully animated: the stories of George Nelson's secretary, Hilda Longinotti

{ via Co.Design }

She's a beauty.

When a new issue is released, the first thing I do with having the physical object is to photograph some "glamour shots". #21 is looking mighty fine in her closeups!

Subscribe today.

(Hurry: if you want your subscription to start with January's issue #20, that option is available in the shop until Monday. You'll get both #20 and #21 at the same time. 232 pages of great content delivered to your doorstep.)

type tuesday: feed yourself with letterform

Here's a feed to follow on Instagram: Letterform. Combining a love of food and typography, their online shop is called Nourishing Notes.

"Started in 2007 by Julie Morelli and Andy Schwegler (shortly after they opened their design studio Letterform) Nourishing Notes combines their passions for food, design, illustration, type, and laughter. One joke about a lamb shank quickly turned into the very first greeting card, which led to a crash course in letterpress printing, which led to a full line of stationery, kitchen towels, art prints, and lots more in the years to come." 

issue #21

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you'll have seen that a few boxes were delivered this morning... 

Hip hip hooray — Issue #21 is done!

Please be patient as this new issue makes its way through the mailing and shipping process... New subscriptions are being routed to our fulfillment house now, so those orders will queue up and ship as soon as physically possible. Even though the Internet makes us believe in immediacy, the world is a big, big place... and magazines going to our US fulfillment warehouse have to be delivered nearly 2000 miles by truck. In the meantime, you can subscribe here!

Alberta Magazine Awards

Thursday night was an exciting evening for the magazine industry in Alberta—the annual awards dinner celebrating the best in publishing, writing and design was held in Calgary. I had already been informed that I was the recipient the Alberta Magazine Awards' Editor of the Year. It was a surprise to also pick up a gold for Best Art Direction for a Single Issue (for collage-themed issue #18, cover by Sarah Bridgland) and the final award of the night Magazine of the Year! It is an honour to have UPPERCASE recognized in this way; there are so many quality publications being produced in this province. I'll paste my Editor of the Year acceptance speech below....

Thank you very much to Suzanne and Rebecca and the AMPA team for championing UPPERCASE and supporting me. 

As a graphic designer with no formal education in writing or editing, being an editor is a skill that I have picked up in practical ways over the years: first through observation and learning through book and magazine projects that I did as a freelancer. There, I picked up the techniques of editing manuscripts by being the person who had to input all those little revisions to grammar and punctuation. As the curator and designer of UPPERCASE magazine, I am honing my organizational, editorial and curatorial skills and learning by just diving head first into whatever task is at hand. 

If I were to edit the title “editor of the year” I would rename it to “multi-tasker of the year”. As publisher, editor, designer, subscription manager with a whole host of other responsibilities, it is nice that all this hard work is recognized my AMPA and my peers. Thank you to Nikki Sheppy and Sharon McIntyre for their wonderful letters of support following my nomination for this award.

I have the pleasure of collaborating with great writers, photographers and illustrators from around the world for each issue. Thanks to my core contributors and freelancers who always deliver beyond what I ask.

I’d like to acknowledge Erin Bacon, a vital part of the UPPERCASE family. She is a great support and handles marketing, publicity and whatever else that needs to get done.

I’d like to thank my family — my husband Glen Dresser for his continued support of everything that I do and being so understanding of how consuming UPPERCASE can be — and to my son Finley who is wonderful in all ways and inspires me every day.

registration marks



Catarina Vaz is a Lisbon-based designer who makes beautiful notebooks. She describes her company, Grafolita, as "a small universe where paper, ink and colour rule." 100% crafted by hand, Catarina's notebooks are letterpress-printed and bound one by one. 

"Grafolita is about one person who self teaches doing what she needs in order to do what she wants: Special handmade notebooks, through traditional techniques, that are reinterpreted and used in a new design approach, in the care for finishings and materials."

photos by Rui Abreu

photos by Rui Abreu

lino fun

The whirlwind trip to San Diego is nearing an end; I'm off to the airport momentarily. The Y Conference was a good one and I am proud to have been one of the speakers.

Here are some photos from the Thinkshop on Saturday, in which I did a linocut... my first one in nearly two decades?

issue 21 is on press!


Thanks to the intrepid Chris Young for sending in these shots of UPPERCASE issue #21 on the floor of the Prolific pressroom! (Get your subscription here for the fabulous spring issue featuring our Surface Pattern Design Guide.)

creative manifesto: Alessandra Lanot


In our current issue #20 (released in January), we had a creative challenge asking our readers to submit their Creative Manifestos. Today we will feature some of the best submissions.

My Creative Manifesto: Follow Your Art

Your Name: Alessandra Lanot

Your City: Quezon City

Your Country: Philippines

Your website:


creative manifesto: Amanda Prouten


In our current issue #20 (released in January), we had a creative challenge asking our readers to submit their Creative Manifestos. Today we will feature some of the best submissions.

My Creative Manifesto: A quiet life in loud colour

Your Name: Amanda Prouten

Your City: London

Your Country: UK

Your website:

creative manifesto: Jane Rainwater

In our current issue #20 (released in January), we had a creative challenge asking our readers to submit their Creative Manifestos. Today we will feature some of the best submissions.

My Creative Manifesto: Beautiful Tyranny

Your Name: Jane Rainwater

Your City: Andover,CT

Your Country: USA

Your website if applicable:

creative manifesto: Mary Peterson


In our current issue #20 (released in January), we had a creative challenge asking our readers to submit their Creative Manifestos. Today we will feature some of the best submissions.

My Creative Manifesto: Make. Help. Smile.

Your Name: Mary Peterson

Your City: Los Angeles

Your Country: USA

Your website if applicable.:

creative manifesto: Maria Carluccio


In our current issue #20 (released in January), we had a creative challenge asking our readers to submit their Creative Manifestos. Today we will feature some of the best submissions.

My Creative Manifesto: One.

Your Name: Maria Carluccio

Your City: Dobbs Ferry, NY

Your Country: USA

Your website: