It was my pleasure to be invited as a guest on Grace Bonney's (Design*Sponge) radio show / podcast After The Jump today. Along with Paul Lowe and Paul Vitale of Sweet Paul magazine and Michele Outland of Gather Journal, we discussed the future of print media and what it's like to be a small publisher today.
Jennifer Joanou is one of those multi-talented artists who finds a way to express themselves no matter what the medium or the method. The first iteration of her creative career was as a fashion designer in Los Angeles; her work was popular in Hollywood and was sold in Barneys. Then about ten years ago, she began art journaling and found that it encompassed all her loves: fabric, photography, paper and paint.
Postcards and stickers of her journal pages are available in her shop. Gift them as a set, send them to friends or tack them to your inspiration wall as incentive to start your own journal in 2015.
Thank you to Jennifer for supporting UPPERCASE magazine through the purchase of a Calling Card. I'm pleased to report that the Calling Card page for the forthcoming issue is now full, but if you're interested in being part of the spring issue, spots are now open.
A Gathering of Stitches is offering some amazing retreats next year! Participants will have the opportunity to work intimately with some really talented and generous teachers in 2015.
The dynamic trio of Carolyn Friedlander, Chawne Kimber and Rebecca Ringquist take up residence at the Medomak Retreat centre in Washington, ME, in August, for a long Slow Stitching weekend. Slow down and connect to needle and thread or floss in a summer camp setting with a small community of stitchers.
Thank you to Samantha Lindgren for her support of UPPERCASE magazine through the purchase of this Calling Card ad.
Happy Monday and Happy December 1st! There's no denying that the end-of-the-year rush is on. Today, let's just catch our breath and get back to doing what we love... making things!
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 handmade notebook of blank pages with a found-paper cover... just take a look at an issue of UPPERCASE and I'm sure an idea will come to mind.
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! Share what you're up to on Twitter and Instagram #makesomethingmonday #uppercasereader.
A huge thank you to UPPERCASE reader Lisa Courtnage for the beautiful quilt block made of vintage feedsacks. She writes, "I saw your request for feedack fabric on your blog. I found a vendor while at the International Quilt Festival in Houston who was selling charm squares of feedsack fabric (5 inch squares) so I snagged a few packs. I have enclosed 419 one-and-a-half-inch squares. Also made a mini-quilt block with the leftover scraps... that is how quilts were made back in the day!" Once again, I'm amazed and inspired by the generosity and talent of UPPERCASE readers. Thank you, Lisa.
My son was with me at the office when I received Lisa's package of feedsacks. He was instantly enamoured with the quilt block and wanted it for his teddy bear. I have other plans for the block, so I suggested that we make teddy his own special blanket. All my sewing supplies are here in the office so Finley selected a favourite feedsack square from Lisa's packet and we went to work. My mother-in-law had recently downsized her fabric collection and I acquired some of it, so the blue and white fabric was at-the-ready. The train fabric was purchased from a thrift store on a car trip home to Saskatchewan some summers ago. Finley helped by sitting under the table and pushing on the sewing machine pedal or by taking out the pins as needed. Within an hour, we had a cute but wonky tiny blanket and a happy mother and son. We'll both cherish the blanket for the stories of how the fabrics were chosen and the fun we had putting it together. I think teddy liked it, too.
Speaking of quilts, I'm excited to tell you that I'll be one of three judges for next year's QuiltCon! I look forward to spending three days surrounded by beautiful quilt designs.
Have a lovely day making something!
Did you know that UPPERCASE's spines were originally inspired by Little Golden Books? I've always loved their eye-catching golden spines and wanted my magazine to have a similar recognizable shelf presence, even when displayed spine out. Using a silver foil for issue 23's spine brings that idea full circle. It's nice when childhood inspirations still apply to your adult life!
I’m pleased to introduce a new face and new monthly feature to the UPPERCASE blog. Solita Work is the proprietor of ReWorks Upcycle Shop in Calgary’s Inglewood neighbourhood. Solita uses the skills she honed during years in graphic and exhibit design to curate and style the spacious and eclectic shop. Everything in the shop is made with some form of recycled, upcycled, repurposed or reclaimed material. You’ll find coat racks made from old rails spikes, purses from vintage license plates or a cast iron tub transformed into a cozy sofa. The business reduces waste, but also inspires people to redefine their understanding of waste.
"It is so exciting to see how far artists, designers and crafts people have come in finding ways to reuse materials originally destined for our landfills,” says Solita. "Not only does the shop bring in talent from around North America but also gives me the opportunity to continue to be creative through in-house product development, graphic design, retail displays and community connections.”
In its third year, Solita has big plans for her shop, hoping to rearrange the configuration to make way for a "making area” which will allow her to do sewing and make objects for the store. The new studio area will also be available for makers-in-residence to create their own work or be inspired by the treasure trove of interesting objects and textiles that she as amassed in her back-room storage. Word has gotten out that Solita likes to find uses for discarded things, so she has often been the recipient of good quality items that need some TLC before they become new products. Last week when I visited the shop, Solita showed me some opaque glass bottles that were previously emblazoned with branding. She’s experimenting with sandblasting new designs and illustrations to upcycle them into new products that will be available for sale in the shop. Solita thrives on the challenge.
This brings us to the ReWorks Monthly Recycling Challenge. Every month, Solita will post an old item to be recreated into something new. She will pick her favourite entries and share them here along with the following month’s challenge. If she likes the idea enough, she may even offer to help you develop it into a viable, new product for sale in Reworks Upcycle Shop.
ReWorks Monthly Recycling Challenge: Blue Jeans
This month’s challenge is to create something wonderful from an old pairs of blue jeans. Blue jeans are a durable staple item in just about everyone's closet. Inevitably, blue jeans will rip or tear at the knee or a pocket but that doesn't mean that there isn't still lots of good fabric left over for repurposing. Show us what you can do with that leftover fabric!
I have included a few examples to help get your inspiration flowing. Blue jeans have already been made into comfy pillows, a wildly creative bear rug and a colourful hand bag. I look forward to seeing what you make.
To enter the challenge, please email good quality digital photographs of your creation (800 pixels wide at 72 dpi) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Entries must be submitted on or before the last day of the month to qualify for the challenge. Entries must also include your name, contact information and a brief description of your creation. If you have any questions about this challenge, please direct them to Solita at the email listed above. UPPERCASE is not involved in the administration or adjudication of this challenge.
If you haven't experienced a book by Hervé Tullet, seek one out. His books offer fun experiences that use the format of the book to play with creative concepts. His latest book, Mix it Up! demonstrates how colours combine to form new colours and tints. It's a great book about mixing paint... and you won't get your fingers dirty!
Hervé is in Toronto next week, leading a hands-on art event for children on Wednesday, October 8. On October 9 at 2 pm he will be drop by Type (883 Queen St W, an UPPERCASE stockist) to sign copies of his new book.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Columbian artist Ximena Escobar has taken the concept of paint by numbers into a completely different medium. By cutting up coloured felt, she assembles portraits of beautiful women with florals. "This medium is very special to me because the colours also have texture and that makes my work richer and more interesting," she explains. "It is a medium where I can't mix the colours, every one of them is a solid block, so I need to use them in a way I can blend the colours without mixing them. That challenges my work and takes me to some interesting and exciting results."
"Colour is a very important element in my work. It defines the mood of what I am creating, it is also the way I communicate my aesthetic no matter which medium I'm using. Colour inspires and challenges me all the time."
"Colour is part of what I am as an artist. I was born in Colombia which is a very tropical and colourful country. It is almost impossible for me to create something without colour, it is how I communicate what I want to say."
Cover artist Shelley Davies was wonderful to work with. And she is always so generous with her creativity! Above's an "outtake" called Ripe Banana.
I asked Shelley to make the collage for the cover because of her affinity for working with paint swatches, her love of incorporating type into her work and her overall exuberance for bright colour. Here are some more colourful compositions from Shelley.
Here are some roughs that Shelley made when working on the cover. We decided that the radiating colour wheel was more dynamic, but these studies are nice on their own!
Jason Taylor was featured in Issue #21, and has an exhibition this week at The Harley Gallery from June 11 to August 10, 2014.
Here is an excerpt from Fun with Function written by Vinciane de Pape.
Jason Taylor is an established, UK-based artist and industrial designer whose innovative work plays with the form and function of readymade objects. His line of lighting and furniture designs has been sold internationally and exhibited in museums and art galleries around the world. Jason brings an artistic sensibility to his design process and enjoys the restrictions and challenges of creating unconventional products inspired by mundane objects.
Finding early on that he enjoyed manipulating and inventing simple designs from objects like tin cans, Jason pursued an education in design to follow his passion for experimentation and to further develop his skill set.
“I chose to do a 3D design course because of the techniques I could learn in different materials, but the focus was mainly on functional objects,” he explains. “An object would become my starting point and I developed different paths I could go down, such as developing a different function for it or remaking it in a different material.”
Somewhat frustrated with the compromises required by the commercial side of product design, Jason decided to go back to what he does best—experimenting with objects. This is when his Everyday Objects project came to life.
“I learned with a previous project that I could be more productive than I thought, and I also enjoyed the sculptural side,” Jason describes. “But what would be the reason and how could I make myself do it? I had seen other people do everyday photography projects and then thought of the double meaning of ‘everyday objects’ and I had to go for it.”
To read the full article about Jason Taylor in Issue #21, click here.
Creativebug is an online source for craft and design video workshops. They have just released a video introducing their June classes with instructors Marisa Lynch, Maggie Pace, Elke Bergeron, and Lia Griffith teaching a range of crafts–from how to make a braided leather bracelet, to knitting a pair of baby booties.
For more information on Creativebug, click here.
Rihannon Adam is an artist who lives and works in London, England. She attended Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and also the University of Cambridge. She recently released her new book called Dreamlands / Wastelands, a collection of photographs taken on expired Polaroid film in the resort towns of Margate and Benidorm.
"I’ve always been interested in 'the holiday destination', partly down to my unusual upbringing aboard our boat, Jannes. While sailing, we spent a lot of time in coastal holiday locations stocking up on supplies. Most people that we met there assumed we were on holiday, like them, rather than our nomadic existence being a lifestyle choice," says Rihannon in her book.
Here is an excerpt written by Rihannon from Dreamlands / Wastelands:
"MARGATE Mar – Gate. Gateway to the sea. Though I hated living on our boat, I still love the sea and am always drawn back to it. It also hard to avoid when living in the UK – drive in any direction and you eventually hit water.
Somehow Britishness relates to being an Island nation, having an indefatigable spirit, and being determined to make the best of what we have. There is nothing more British than standing on a beach in gale force winds with your toes buried in cold clammy sand having a ‘good time’. Or sitting in a parked car with a thermos, the windscreen wipers brushing away the tears of another summer downpour.
Margate is a place that most of us have heard of. It is the poster child British seaside town, its name synonymous with childhood memories of swimming in water that's just a bit too cold, of buckets and spades, ice cream, deck chairs and donkeys. Its history riddled with familiar pairs: mods and rockers, Chas and Dave, Del Boy and Rodney, highs and lows, boom and bust. We all have our own Margate – you can find one on every British coast.
This project explores what is beautiful about Margate - then, and now. Shot entirely with expired Polaroid film echoing family snapshots of yesteryear, these pictures show what a good old-fashioned British holiday resort looks like on the cusp of resurgence. Polaroids imbue a cultural cellular memory and nostalgia for all of the millions of childhood moments spent ‘beside the seaside, beside the sea’.
The film is now extremely expired causing imperfections, bearing resemblance to the scars of passing time and memories transforming, blurring the boundaries between past and present. These effects also mirror the cracks and decay that permeate the walls of every British resort town. These photographs are my memories, your memories, our memories.
Even after a recession, a change in taste, and the advent of cheap flights and package holidays abroad, Margate is still beautiful when the sun shines."
For more information on Dreamlands / Wastelands, click here.
Mr. Ned (aka Ned Jolliffe) is an illustrator and designer from Oxford, England whose work can be seen on book covers, magazines and theatre posters. He has been compiling a scrapbook for about 10 years in which he pastes his collected ephemera items. "Juxtaposing a new bit or bob in its pages makes me very happy; It's not finished - there's lots of pages blank, and I fear the thing will disintegrate before I complete it,” says Ned.
"It's small, squarish little thing that has grown stout over the years from absorbing little ephemeral treasures as I trudge along the streets of wherever I happen to be at the time. My scrapbook is the one possession I would rescue from the raging flames."
To see more of Mr. Ned’s work, take a look at his portfolio here.
The New Craft Coalition in Calgary is having a Spring Show + Sale on May 23 and 24.
Here’s a little bit of info from the NCC ladies themselves, "At our core New Craft Coalition is a group of three artists working together to make a difference in our creative community. We are makers, moms, entrepreneurs and firm believers in the power of art, craft and design to change not only our communities, but the world. Our current mission is to bring a carefully curated collection of independently produced, Canadian art, craft and design to the people of Calgary twice annually, with other plans unfolding all the time!"
If you’re one of our Calgary fans, come by and say hi! We will have our current issue plus a selection of books, notebooks and lots of back issues for you to peruse.
There will be 24 artists selling their latests works, so come down to Festive Hall in Inglewood to support local artisans in UPPERCASE’s hometown.
Friday, May 23, 2014 4:00pm-9:00pm
Saturday, May 24, 2014 10:00am-6:00pm
Festive Hall, Inglewood 1215 10 AVE SE
Admission is $2 per person
Create.Explore.Discover is a warm, creative retreat in Truckee, California where women of all ages and backgrounds gather to uncover, and discover, their creative spark. This October, Sarah Stevenson, an interior designer and mixed media artist from Chicago, will lead participants through a weekend of creativity and learning with instructors Mati McDonough, Anne Weil, Andrea Jenkins and Courtney Cerruti.
“No matter your skill–or comfort–level, Create.Explore.Discover is safe space for experimenting and trying out new projects. If you don’t currently identify as a creative individual, you will surprise yourself by the end of the retreat. If creativity is a part of your daily life, you will leave Creat.Explore.Discover energized and brimming with ideas for your next project,” says Sarah.
Participants are able to choose from 9 different workshops with topics ranging from learning how to make paper flower bouquets to making a patchwork collage.
For more information and registration details click here.
On my first day of grade seven, my teacher, after handing out our math text books, asked us to wrap them in craft paper to protect them from the inevitable wear and tear they would endure throughout the year. UK-based artist Yinka Shonibare has taken the textbook request to the extreme.
A new installation called The British Library has opened at the Brighton Museum & Art Gallery Until May 25, visitors can see 10,000 books that have been covered with wax batik fabric that Yinka designed himself. Yinka’s hope for the library was to make visible the cultural influences of colonization, and to celebrate immigrants and their contributions to British Culture.
Book artist Louise Best helped wrap some of the thousands of books in bright Dutch and African fabrics. "Those colours contributed to our happiness and well being as well as all the mugs of tea, chocolate bourbons and custard creams we consumed for 8 hours a day. It was a great job and expertly executed even if I do say so myself. I'm in my element surrounded by books, fabric, glue and scissors. And nice people,” said Louise.
To read Louise’s full blog post, click here.