Hemlock 82, 2008The word 'woodcut' typically refers creating images by chiseling our gouging a relief into a wood surface and then printing the results. Bryan Nash Gill's work takes the word in a different direction; he makes relief prints from cross-sections of trees. Rather than using the wood as a medium for a carved image, he tries to capture the tree itself. Good portraiture is limited in its frame but expansive in its impact. Here, Gill has found a wonderful form of portraiture for trees, where the simple patterns of rings and texture are captured, while other traditional boreal imagery like the vertical shapes and warm hues are only implied. Gill's work starkly captures age, growth patterns, rot and other abnormalities that tell a tree's stories. He doesn't simply work with whole crosscut trees, but dimensional lumber, plywood, telephone poles... any wood he can find that tells a story or creates an interesting image. 

This book from Princeton Architectural Press presents a fantastic retrospective of Gill's woodcut work. This represents only a segment of the work that Gill does - his sculpture and installation work, for example, is not show here. While the images alone are nice, I really enjoyed the text as well, with little blurbs telling what makes a specimen unique, where he found it, or what challenges the piece provided the artist. As well, Gill also extensively documents his creative process. My only quibble is that I would have liked to see more of his studio... Of course at UPPERCASE were suckers for seeing an artist's studio, and here there's only one grainy photo of what looks to be an absolutely stunning workspace. 

Crafting a Meaningful Home

As a book lover, designer and publisher, I am always on the lookout for books that inspire. With review copies, keeping up with the blogs, my magazine and books in progress, it seems that I look at so many things these days that it takes something extra special to grab my full attention. Crafting a Meaningful Home is such a book. Written by Meg Mateo Ilasco (I've blogged about her recent book collaboration with Joy Cho, Creative Inc) with gorgeous photography by Thayer Allyson Gowdy, the book goes beyond the typical craft how-to and really does live up to its title: each of the crafts in the book is made by a different artist or family. Sharing meaningful stories on how culture, family and personal histories inform their crafts and home environment, the book is a very interesting read.

The book arrived at just the right time; Glen and I have been redoing our house: putting down new floors, painting the walls, new furniture and bookshelves... With this clean slate, I am inspired to feature more personal items, crafts and collections. (In the photo above you can see a bit of a lovely crochet blanket that Tif made for Finley, and below the amazing colour combination so-awful-it's-great throw I bought at Value Village.) With all of the activity and work I have to do, I have not had time to sew or crochet... but I remind myself that am crafting a home in the larger sense: Glen and I are creating a wonderful place for all of us to grow as a family.

The book features many of my favourite creative people: Rae Dunn, Joy Cho, Lauren & Derek from The Curiosity Shoppe, Lorena Siminovich and many other fine crafters. Lisa Congdon is also a contributor and her decoupage plates are featured on the cover. Below is a sweet video of Lisa that Meg shares with us:

Crafting a Meaningful Home - Lisa Congdon from Meg Mateo Ilasco on Vimeo.


The book is available through Rare Device and The Curiosity Shoppe as well as other fine booksellers.

The Exquisite Book

The Exquisite Book by Julia Rothman, Jenny Volvovski and Matt Lamothe takes the surrealist game of the exquisite corpse and puts a modern spin on it. With 100 artists and illustrators it was an ambitious project of organization, communication and design to create a book in which to present a technically difficult format: a very long accordion fold. To make it manageable, the book is organized into ten sections of ten images each. These five-page accordion pages with images on either side are then bound into the book. I'm sure it was a labour-intensive process to bind the book!

Some of the participating artists include UPPERCASE favourites Camilla Engman, Lisa Congdon, Ray Fenwick, The Heads of State, Sarajo Frieden, Nick Dewar, Lab Partners, Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch, Esther Pearl Watson, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Irina Troitskaya, Calef Brown and Matte Stephens among others. (All these people I've just listed have participated in UPPERCASE magazine, our books or gallery shows over the years. Sorry if I've missed anyone!)

Although by the very nature of the exquisite corpse game the connections between images can be hit or miss, there are some nice moments between illustrations — particularly when each illustrator is sensitive to the content motifs of what came before their piece. And for those fold outs where the connection from one to the next is lacking, there are plenty of standalone images that are interesting in their own right.

The book is available through Chronicle here. Enter the promo code EXQ to get 25% discount & Free Shipping. Thanks to Patti Quill for inviting me to be part of the book tour. (I got to meet Patti and other members of the Chronicle family when in San Francisco this past summer — you can see some images from inside the headquarters in the current issue 7 of UPPERCASE magazine.)

With different bloggers profiling the book, it is interesting to see how each person connects with the book. Decor8 wants to hang it on her wall. I want to figure out how it was manufactured!

Tour Dates
10/18 Design For Mankind
10/19 My Love for You is a Stampede of Horses
10/20 Creature Comforts
10/21 Oh Joy!
10/22 Pikaland
10/25 Print & Pattern
10/26 ReadyMade
10/28 The Post Family
10/29 Decor8
11/2 Mint
11/3 Grain Edit
11/5 7◊7 Magazine

Creative Inc.

I'm happy to be part of the Creative Inc. blog tour organized by Chronicle Books. Co-written by Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Cho, Creative Inc. is a guidebook for setting up your own creative enterprise. With a friendly and encouraging voice, the book is a great resource for those just starting out as a freelancer (designer, illustrator, stylist, photographer and other creative fields).

Even if you've been around for a while (like me) you'll find inspiration and motivation to keep forging your own path. One of the toughest things as a freelancer and entrepreneur is to keep positive, keep working, keep striving. It is nice to have mentors such as Meg and Joy in whom you can find such encouragement.

Chronicle Books sent me a review copy and I read it cover to cover this past weekend. It is an excellent companion to Meg's Craft Inc. (Leave a comment and we'll do a draw for a giveaway for the book. UPDATE: congrats Emily, we'll send you the book! Thanks for all your comments, everyone.)

I follow Joy's blog daily and so it is nice that we get to include her in the upcoming issue of UPPERCASE magazine. In the inaugural article for a new column entitled "Beginnings", Joy graciously found time in her busy schedule to speak with Erin Loechner (Design for Mankind) about how she got her start. It is an informative and entertaining read with even more great tips for creative business.

Please follow along on this virtual book tour:

8/23 Poppy Talk
8/24 Oh Happy Day
8/25 SFGirl By Bay
8/26 Mint Design
8/27 Wit + Delight
8/28 Cathy of California
8/29 Book By Its Cover
8/30 Not Martha
8/31 Frolic
9/02 Craft
9/03 Decor8
9/04 Kris Atomic
9/05 Grain Edit

Art of McSweeney's

Summer Fiction

Fine summer fiction in pretty packages.

See the New Yorker  above ("Future Generations
by Dan Clowes)
and the Walrus below (cover by Joost Swarte).

Christopher Silas Neal

I just came across the Sunday New York Times Book Review Summer Reading 2009 issue and was immediately smitten by the cover art.

To see more of Christopher Silas Neal's breezy illustrations, as well as the original sketches he did in the work up to this job, see the process archive on his website.

And the book reviews are good to!

Hers & His

This Sunday's nytimes featured an article championing the American Short Story and some of its great writers. The famous, and well used, typewriters above are master machines belonging to Flannery O'Connor and Donald Barthelme. Click here to read the full article.

If you are an O'Connor fan like me you will be keen to get your hands on a copy of Brad Gooch's new biography, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, exploring the unsung chapters and quiet complexities of this Southern spitfire's creative and personal life. I had no idea she only lived to the age of 38.

Joyce Carol Oates wrote a whipsmart review of Gooch's book in the wider context of O'Connor's literary legacy in the New York Review of Books. O'Connor's lifelong passion for peacocks (as celebrated on the book covers above) is measured alongside her unsentimental prose and biting wit: "She would of been a good woman -- if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life." (From the title story in A Good Man Is Hard To Find, 1955.) To read an extended excerpt from this story, click here.

The New Rules

We at UPPERCASE abide by Dave Eggers 'The New Rules' on book buying:

I came across this piece in McSweeney's lovely & amazing collection, One Hundred and Forty Five Stories in a Small Box. The box, pictured below, is beautifully illustrated with bears and clouds of golden smoke. The stories are tiny gems written by Dave Eggers, Sarah Manguso and Deb Olin Unferth.

Make UPPERCASE books 3 of your 10 - and you won't come to a nasty, brutish end.

Fresh Books!


Here are two brand-new books that I look forward to reading this weekend! I've just added them to the shop. (click on the covers to get directly to their pages.) Hey, fresh ACAD VC and illustration grads: these two books have got you covered.

Lotta Prints

Lotta Jansdotter is here! Well, her new book anyway.

With beautiful photographs by Lotta's childhood friend, Jenny Hallengren (you can see many of the book's photos on her site), Lotta Prints is an guide on how to print with "anything from potatoes to linoleum". Rubber stamping, iron-on transfer, leaves, stencils, and Lotta's forte: silkscreening, are all covered. Lotta's writing is conversational and to the point. The projects are easy in process, but it is her ability to create elegant organic lines and simple shapes that truly inspires. The book includes a number of tear-away stencils so that you can reproduce her patterns and there's a handy back pocket to keep the used stencils and even perhaps your rough drawings or printed experiments.

Click here to purchase the book in the UPPERCASE shop ($19.95 - we're selling it at the US cover price). We've also restocked her sticky labels, Seedlings journal, Simple Sewing book and other goodies. All this can be found in the Lotta Jansdotter category on the site.

p.s. We're having a spring sale on the website – just enter the code "spring" on checkout to save $10 on purchases over $30. Valid until the Tuesday after Easter.

Trio Magnus Book Review

by Frances Ewington

Oh, a peaceful Saturday afternoon with the art of Trio Magnus. The testosterone-filled Canadian artists Clayton Hanmer, Aaron Leighton, and Steve Wilson have finally published the inner workings of their warped sketchbooks.

As I flip among the bright pages of 'Equally Superior' I am forced to come face to face with the mind diarrhea of these feisty, brew-drinking Canuck boys and their collective works of sketched vomit. That introduction may sound like I don't approve of this book. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I love this book! Who wouldn't want to spend an hour exposing one's eyes to the loud chaos of fart-man scribbles, Jesus-freak pictures and ass-picking perverts. This book puts life into perspective in a totally warped way: How can you be sad when that poor alligator is trapped in a space suit, aimlessly floating in an abyss of tongue-slurping space ships? How can you be scared when Cappy Wilso isn't afraid to don a cape and brave fully exposing his Johnson to save the dehydrated grass? How can you be vain when every character in this book is uglier, more disgusting, and stupider than you in every possible way? At least you don't don the ancient symbol for retard on your head! This is the feel-good read of the year, especially because there isn't much to read but so much to read into. I hope those who find power in being offended find this book empowering. I hope those who can't draw are encouraged to try it. I hope these warped artists sell all their books. I hope little children everywhere never get their hands on this wonderful piece of filth.

And for all the rest I say: if a turd going for a jog in fubar pants doesn't make you smile then nothing will.

Craft Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby Into a Business


This book covers absolutely everything you need to know if you've ever toyed with the idea of turning a profit with your creative pursuits. Craft Inc. guides you step-by-step through the very basics of tapping into your creative interests, coming up with a name for yourself, pricing your wares, sourcing the materials you'll need, eventually leading you to the point where you could be booming with business and getting up for work every day to do something you genuinely enjoy.

Also, interviews with artists-made-business owners like Lotta Jansdotter, Jill Bliss and Jonathan Adler  provide practical insight and inspiration.

I couldn't put this book down because like most creative individuals, the idea of making money from what I do for fun seems like a total dream, and after reading Craft Inc. I have a pretty good idea of how to get started.

Written by designer/illustrator/business owner Meg Mateo Ilasco. 

Rex Ray Art & Design


Rex Ray is a San Francisco artist and designer who makes beautiful paper collages. The images above are from his website, except for the second from the top which is a shot of his newly-published book.

The process used in these works began by cutting up magazines for my own pleasure. (see paper collages). It's as simple as scissors, paper, and glue. As these works became more popular I began drawing, painting, and block printing various archival papers for source material.These papers are then cut up, collaged and assembled on plywood panels. The panels are then coated with a high gloss epoxy resin.

The new monograph on his work is really inspirational – it makes me want to start cutting and pasting all the eclecto scraps that I have. The book and a Rex Ray notebook are available in our store. You can enter to win an original artwork on the publisher's website and visit his work at Gallery 16 in San Francisco.


Couture Interiors


Couture Interiors by Marnie Fogg

Now here's a gorgeous book! Fashion and interior design have a natural relationship; many fashion designers also expand their aesthetics into interiors for the shops as well as products for home decor. "The home is now subject to the same directional trends as fashion, in part because so many designers are extending their practice to include interiors, as well as products and accessories. The fusion between fashion and interiors has never been more relevant. The proliferation of ideas, the speed of manufacture, and an increasingly visually literate consumer, have all resulted in interiors being subject to the same desire for innovation, change and fashionability as fashion. This investigation of the hectic dissemination of trends takes the reader on an eclectic, adventurous excursion into living with fashion." (from the publisher's website)

One of my favourites is above - a peek into Orla Kiely's studio (directly above). Inspirations mood boards, catwalk images paired with product designs, fabrics, textures, great photography - this is a must-have book for all style lovers. More photos here.


Hand Job

Play Pen

I've been eagerly awaiting this book for quite some time! Play Pen showcases new children's book illustration from diverse cultures. French, British, Korean, Japanese, Swedish, Norwegian, American and other cultures are represented. The author writes, "In making what must be of necessity a highly subjective selection, the aim of this book has been to represent a broad range of stylistic and conceptual trends and a range of cultural characteristics from around the world, across what is increasingly a global market."

One of the stand-out illustrators is Frenchman Marc Boutavant, who illustrated the cover and endpapers. His work has a marvelous sensitivity, texture and retro quality. It is amazing that his work is done entirely in Photoshop with a Wacom tablet. "I used to work late into the the night with a zero pencil and acrylic paints but one day, suddenly, I was free... And the great thing was, I was no longer looking at the end of my finger. My hand was drawing but my eyes were looking only at what I was drawing. It made me rasie my nose from the paper. Of course, beyond the technical, the biggest influence on work is life. My own children play an important part in feeding the work too... intangible things, little smiles or things like that."


The work in Play Pen is charming, exquisite and innovative. The book is divided into sections covering picture and board books, alphabets and wordplay, illustration for older children and art for non-fiction projects. The book itself is well-designed and presents each artist's work at large sizes so that it can be fully appreciated. Highly recommended!

Play Pen is available in the shop and online in the book section, illustration category.

Taking Things Seriously

Is it possible to be in love with a book?


Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance is the object of my affections. First of all, the cover photograph is stunning. The book's modest dimensions make the act of reading a very intimate affair. The perfect binding and crisp, precise page trim lend this little block of book importance and heft. The page design is simple and elegant and lets the personality of the objects be fully appreciated, elevating the most mundane to that of a museum artifact. Taking Things Seriously presents a curious mix of items with personal significance to its owners: dirt piles, an ugly Santa, childhood toys, bizarre gifts, found objects... with the right circumstances, an ordinary object can have extraordinary significance. The contributors to this book are creative individuals (designers, writers, artists, architects) and all the entries are equally well-written, humourous, insightful and quirky.

This book is something to treasure.

(copies are available in UPPERCASE for $21.95... and soon will be available on our online store: launching very soon!) 

Neo Japanesque Graphics


Available at UPPERCASE $90


Illusive: Contemporary Illustration and its Context













Illustration is everywhere; on clothing, in product and book design, fashion design, advertisements and even corporate identity.  Pictures have the power to express what words cannot; they are personalized, immediate and powerful visual statements.  As reflections of the times, illustrative styles range so greatly today that the only consistency comes from a general acceptance that 'anything goes'. Illusive, edited by Robert Klanten and Henrik Hellige is a collection of illustrations from around the world, and touches on stylistic approaches ranging from hand-cut paper images to polished vectored computer graphics, and everything in between. The book also features interviews with emerging illustrators, showcasing their technique, inspiration and business practices. Illusive is a thorough overview of some of the most beautiful and inspired illustration happening today.

Available at UPPERCASE $62


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