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Correy Baldwin on Dear Human's Patchworked In Canada

Added on by Cara Howlett.
photos from

photos from

post by Cara Howlett

Dear Human is a husband and wife ceramic company based in Vancouver, Canada. Correy Baldwin, UPPERCASE's copy editor, interviewed the duo made of Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O'Connell for Issue #21's Dynamic Duo section.

Dear Human displayed their project Patchworked in Canada, a project using tiles shipped from Portugal, at the Toronto Design Offisite Festival in January. After the festival ended, Jasna and Noel applied magnets to the tiles and took them to the streets of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver encouraging passersby to find unanticipated beauty in the urban landscape, inviting a moment of pause and response. 

We asked Correy about his experience of finding a tile in Montreal. 

photos from

I found the tiles quite late on a Sunday evening. I was walking home after a night of playing music with friends in their living room on the other end of town—a pretty classic Montreal evening. So when I got home I had a banjo in one hand and a Portuguese tile in the other.

I had already been in touch with Jasna and Noel from Dear Human, so I knew the tiles were around and had been keeping my eye out for them. I’d actually gone out hunting for them specifically a few days earlier, but hadn’t seen any. That night I found them quite accidentally, which seemed more appropriate somehow.


I only took one of the tiles, and left the other one for someone else to find. At first I kept it at my workspace, but in the end I did probably the most ordinary thing possible and stuck it to my fridge. Jasna and Noel had put magnets on the back of the tiles, so the fridge seemed an obvious place to put it. It’s still there. Maybe this summer I’ll place it on the metal railings of my balcony.

I interviewed Dear Human a few days after I found the tile. Noel wanted to know which one I’d found, and he recognized it as soon as I described the pattern on it. If I hadn’t already been in touch with them, I would have called the number on the back for sure.

A few blocks from where I found [my tile] there’s a small Portuguese square with a lot of beautiful Portuguese tiles around it. I knew they would have found it an irresistible spot, and sure enough, I found a number scattered around the square. I pulled a couple of them off and looked at them, then put them back. A couple of old men had been watching me, and as I left one of them went over and look at them, too. So if Dear Human got a phone call from a confused old man, it’s my fault.

The project was inviting us to be more aware of our surroundings, to pay more attention to the smaller details around us, and I think it did a great job. Long after I found a tile I kept looking a lot more closely at everything while walking around, even in other neighbourhoods.

And I wasn’t just looking for tiles. I was just looking.

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

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{ via Co.Design }

cassette tape; seen but not heard

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Here's a very intriguing series by Terence Hannum.


"Typically one does not engage with the material of the cassette. Unless it was being eaten by a tape player, the average consumer never gazed upon its reflective spool. To this point most media requires a certain precious handling of it, the CD, DVD and LP require the listener to hold only the edge." 


"Perhaps speaking to the ubiquity of the digital file these days, the MP3, FLAC, WAV and others have no real handling instructions. I want to focus on the surface as an engaging texture."


"I am a visual artist and musician who has used cassette tape in my music and now my material and subject in my visual art. I have an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and teach Art Foundations at Stevenson University outside Baltimore."


match + maker

Added on by Janine.

Head on over to Oh My Handmade Goodness for a great post by Jessika Hepburn... I recently enlisted Jessika to interview ceramicist Mariko Paterson for issue #21. Jessika writes:

"I expected we would talk about her work and hopefully connect but imagine my joy when I realized Janine had paired us perfectly, we were totally kindred spirits! What are the chances of finding another creative, multicultural, from Vancouver, collaborative, tattooed lady in our little town? I don’t know but thankfully they were in our favour!"

I suspected the two might enjoy meeting one another and since Mariko is relatively new to their small town they hadn't yet met—even though they're just four blocks apart. The meeting inspired a brilliant idea for a blog series called Match + Maker. I look forward to reading more stories of creative folks matched for interviews and studio tours on Oh My Handmade.

Show and Tell: April V. Walters

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"Donuts of the Bay Area" is quite the best title I've seen for a calendar. Even better, it is filled with watercolour portraits of donuts (or doughnuts, if you prefer) spotted and, I assume, consumed in the San Francisco vicinity.

For more delectables, visit April V. Walter's Etsy shop, look through her website to get to know April and then read her entertaining illustrated blog post about 21 days served on jury duty. It's one of the best and original blog posts I've read in quite a while.

Show and Tell: Cleomade

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I was happy to meet Cleo Papanikolas in person: Cleo is one of the artists in Work/Life 3 and also created the great hat illustrations in our current issue. If you want to be astounded by her prolific creativity, spend some time on Cleo's blog: she has created a long list of intricately illustrated downloadable projects based around her paintings. Scroll through her Tiny Paintings Project, visit her Pinterest boards and purchase craft kits from her Etsy shop.


lost & found

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Kathryn John sent in a pitch, which led me to explore her website where I discovered this collaborative video project made with Jo Keeling. An ode to collecting, Kathryn writes, "That is my voiceover and the script came from something I wrote for Jo, the filmmaker, with a few tweaks from her to suit the shots she visualized." It was their first effort as part of a digital film making class—I hope they continue their collaboration!

the truck art of India

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I received a wealth of submissions for the recent Open Pitch. Not all of them can be included in print, so I will share some here on the blog.

The following submission is from Shantanu Suman, a graphic designer from India who currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina:

After working as an art director for over six years in India, I left my job in 2010 to get my Masters in Graphic Design at the University of Florida. During this unanticipated adventure I found myself exploring a long buried love for the truck art of India. During the summer of 2012, I traveled to India for 45 days, carried out extensive research and collaborated with friends to make Horn Please—a documentary film that narrates the story of the Indian truck art. I was accountable for developing the concept and doing the research of the project. I also acted as the joint director, director of photography, and art director to work with a team of individuals who played their own role during the making of the film." 


The trucking industry of India has played an instrumental role in shaping Indian trade and commerce for decades. It’s a common belief among the truck owners of India that a beautiful truck is good for business and therefore the owners decorate their trucks with ornamented designs and vivid colors. My initial research during 2011, demonstrated that little has been done to document this vernacular art form of India. It was this lack that inspired me to do further research. During the summer of 2012, I traveled in six cities of India and collected information about the Indian truck art and people related to this art form. The information collected during this trip has acted as a catalyst to develop some design projects, an exhibition and finally a documentary film — Horn Please


The designs painted on the trucks do not merely represent an aesthetic purpose, but also attempt to depict religious, sentimental, and emotional viewpoints of the people related to the truck industry. My research focused on the ways in which this vernacular art form influences not just the world of art but also the lives of its artists and the truckers who interact with it on a daily basis. Largely, it investigates whether this traditional art, as a unique form of expression, will survive the modern day demands of the industry. 


Project Horn Please is aimed at raising social awareness and engaging people through voices and aesthetics of the Indian trucking Industry. It marks the starting of a campaign in which design would serve as research rather than another visually pleasing piece of work. Although I have spent the last couple of years researching on the truck art of India, I believe that there is more that needs to be accomplished. During my research trip in India, I stumbled upon something really beautiful. What I found in these places of decline was a sense of pride among the people working there. There was an excitement to share their stories—about their families, about the journeys, about the beautiful symbols and motifs and of the age old tradition of decorating their trucks, of which still not many are familiar with. They are the torchbearers of a beautiful custom of adding a personal touch and creating an identity with their vehicles. 

For a photo gallery of Indian truck art, click here. For forthcoming screenings of this documentary, go here.

making future magic

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This film explores playful uses for the increasingly ubiquitous ‘glowing rectangles’ that inhabit the world. We use photographic and animation techniques that were developed to draw moving 3-dimensional typography and objects with an iPad. In dark environments, we play movies on the surface of the iPad that extrude 3-d light forms as they move through the exposure. Multiple exposures with slightly different movies make up the stop-frame animation. 

Though this project dates to 2010, I still found it quite surprising and clever. For more, click here.

What did you learn today?

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Illustrator and designer Jag Nagra has set out on a year-long quest to ask one person a day: "What did you learn today?" Follow along on Instagram and on the project site.

You may remember Jag's previous (amazing) 365-day project:

make it last, make it count

Added on by Janine.
The UPPERCASE Creative Manifesto is available as a free download until December 26.

The UPPERCASE Creative Manifesto is available as a free download until December 26.

Over the past couple years, I have been working on improving my "scrawl" as I call it. I use UPPERCASE projects as a reason to get out my brush pen and start lettering. Some efforts are more successful than others, but overall I think I am finding my style. 

As a Christmas gift to you, dear readers, here is the UPPERCASE creative manifesto available as a free download until December 26. (After that, it will be available as a print for sale in the new poster section I'm setting up in our online shop.) I hope my quirky lettering will inspire you in your creative endeavours through the coming year. Merry Christmas!


Lost & Found

Added on by Janine.

From Vimeo: In a remote corner of New Zealand’s South Island, tucked away among the last remaining tracts of native forest, lies a little-known place of wonder. It is the life’s work and extraordinary creation of inventor, artist and self-confessed tinkerer, Blair Somerville. For over ten years Blair has single-handedly owned, operated and ceaselessly expanded the Lost Gypsy Gallery, his wonderland of homegrown wizardry and a playground for kids and adults alike. Using only recycled materials, Blair takes DIY to artistic extremes. His creations are ingenious, interactive, and often hilariously impractical. They take many shapes and forms and share an uncanny ability to amaze, entertain and inspire. ‘Lost & Found’ invites you to take a peek into Blair's bizarre and beautiful world.

{ Thanks to Eva Franco for the link. }

Added on by Janine.

Other than a photo of Finley with Santa from last year, we don't have any photographs of our son on display. I have to confess that when Finley was a baby, though I absolutely adored taking pictures of him in the moment and am so glad that I did, it was too emotional for me to look at those photos later... he was changing and growing so fast, all these little amazing moments were so fleeting. Trying to put together a baby book, I failed a few times. With the exception of two Blurb books of Instagram photos, I still haven't made him a baby book.

Earlier this year, I watched a crowdfunding campaign that promised to turn digital photos and Instagrams into oil paintings for less than $150. I'm always taking personal photos but they end up stored in the cloud and on my laptop, rarely to be seen again. Curious, I decided to support the campaign and recently I received my painting in the mail. I am so pleased with the resulting painting, it is so much better than I imagined.


I knew that the paintings were made by Chinese artists, but the thing that was lacking with the final oil painting was a credit and brief bio about the individual who created it. I emailed and asked them about their process. Will Freeman replied:

China has a number of "art villages" which are generally small areas of cities where artists congregate. Some are famous for creative and cutting edge art like "the 798" in Beijing. Others are places where less successful artists find cheap housing and hang out with their peers, "like Songzhuang" in Beijing. Still others are centres for art production and export. Xiamen, a smaller city in Fujian province, where our artists live, is one of these. Xiamen actually has two "art villages", but artists and export factories are scattered all around the city. A lot of the oil paintings you find in home-interiors shops, hotel rooms, etc are made in Xiamen or Shenzhen. Most of these are done by migrant workers who create the same paintings hundreds, or even thousands, of times over in an assembly line fashion (one person paints the top corner, the next person paintings the bottom corner, and so on). The artists we use tend to be art-school graduates who do custom one-off painting projects and act as art directors for these assembly line sort of factories. They are extremely talented painters, but tend to see painting as a fun job—a means to earn a living—rather than purely a creative pursuit.

When we receive an order, our team's most important job is to chose the right artist for the particular photo. Some of our artists excel in human portraits; others paint mostly landscapes; others prefer cityscapes; and so on. A painting is usually finished about ten days after the order is placed. Our art staff then reviews the painting to make sure there are no alterations are needed. I'd say about 30% of our paintings require revisions. When someone places a custom order with us, we bring them into this process by sending them photos of their finished painting and allowing them to comment on any changes they'd like. After a painting is approved for shipping, we do all packaging at a central location in Xiamen and ship with various express carriers. The whole process tends to take 3-5 weeks, depending on how burdened the shipping companies are at a particular time. 

The photo I submitted is on the left, the painting on the right.

The photo I submitted is on the left, the painting on the right.

Will said that artist bios was something they were working on. I think giving credit where credit is due would only add value to a painting that was relatively inexpensive and created by someone with genuine talent. Thank you to whomever painted such a lovely portrait of my Finley—I can tell it was done with care and great skill!

Find out more about here.

Bill & Editta: New York City

Added on by Janine.

The countdown to my New York trip is on: the whole family is leaving this Saturday for a week-long experience. I'll be a judge at the Society of Illustrators and will be attending the Nearly Impossible conference. It's going to be a whirlwind, but if there's anything that you think is a must-see activity, event or destination, I welcome your suggestions in the comments on via Twitter.

A still from the movie, Bill Cunningham at home on the streets.

A still from the movie, Bill Cunningham at home on the streets.

To get in the New York state of mind, this weekend I thoroughly enjoyed watching the documentary Bill Cunningham New York . It chronicles the 80-year-old-and-then-some Bill, an intrepid street fashion photographer. It is an amusing and touching portrait of a man who has literally dedicated his life to his creative pursuit.

For most of his career, Bill lived a monk-like existance in an artist studio above Carnegie Hall. Surrounded by filing cabinets and stacks of books and magazines, he slept on a simple cot and didn't have a kitchen. During the filming of the movie (released 2011), Bill and the other residence were faced with finding new accommodations. There is another documentary dedicated to these artists and their stories: Lost Bohemia.

For most of his career, Bill lived a monk-like existance in an artist studio above Carnegie Hall. Surrounded by filing cabinets and stacks of books and magazines, he slept on a simple cot and didn't have a kitchen. During the filming of the movie (released 2011), Bill and the other residence were faced with finding new accommodations. There is another documentary dedicated to these artists and their stories: Lost Bohemia.

The film also introduced me to classic celebrity photographer Editta Sherman—she just celebrated her 101st birthday. 

Bill photographer Editta in 1976 for a fashion book entitled Facades, a celebration of 200 years of fashion and architecture in NYC.

Bill photographer Editta in 1976 for a fashion book entitled Facades, a celebration of 200 years of fashion and architecture in NYC.

Paul Octavious

Added on by Janine.

It snowed yesterday here in Calgary. It made me think of this video by Paul Octavious (whom we featured way back in issue 4) and his project Same Hill, Different Day.  Paul is a prolific and inspired person. Need a lift? View more from Paul:

I've never been to an exhibit like  Ann Hamiltons:  the event of a thread before that had inspired me to no end. So one day I brought my parents and a camera and documented my experience. Music / Sufjan Stevens - Redford ( for Yia -Yia and Pappou)

A 60sec experiment with the color Indigo. Music John Brion - Spotless Mind

monday movies: invisible drawings: Grey Area

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"Using homemade giant brushes and water as a medium, calligraphers practice their writing in the parks in Beijing. Inspired from this, Invisible Drawings: GREY AREA is part performance, part graffiti, and part social experiment.

Invisible Drawings: GREY AREA is a process-based, social experiment that aims to connect artistic practices across disciplines, nationalities and backgrounds within the fields of drawing and performance.

Using commonplace materials, public spaces and private spaces are utilized; the action of production becomes as important as the drawing itself. Spontaneity and improvisation are the methods of exploration in the creation of objects as well as ephemeral works."

"Over the course of ten days, we employed elementary materials such as industrial iron plates, rope, salt, chalk and charcoal,  and used the gallery space as pictorial surfaces through drawing and dance. Here patterns begin to emerge in terms of sound, observation, echo and erasure as well as gestural relationships. Through large-scale artworks, video and sound installation, fragments of performative gestures and live actions, we improvised mark-making and body movement. The public was invited to observe past and on-going performances; the realms of drawing and dancing became blurred."  

Thank you to Christine Cheung for submitting the link to her project site.


inventing kindergarten

Added on by Janine.

Inventing Kindergarten is a book originally published in 1997. It is an intelligent and visually inspiring history on the concept of kindergarten and the creative education of children. When I first purchased my copy, I was interested in it from a graphic design standpoint, such as the design and packaging of the "gifts" (levels of educational tools and toys invented in 1837 by Friedrich Froebel as the first "garden of children".) I actually purchased a second copy and gave it to someone studying early childhood education.


I own a soft cover of the book and shared photos of it back in 2008 on Flickr. Recently, I was contacted by Scott Bultman and the book's author Norman Brosterman who found those images and wanted to use some in their Kickstarter campaign to reprint Inventing Kindergarten. The book has been out of print for some time and the copyright has reverted back to the author. They plan on reprinting the original hardcover version. Find out more on Kickstarter.


creative calgary: wreck city

Added on by Janine.

A row of houses in my neighbourhood is slated for demolition (seems to be a recurring theme) and a community of artists have transformed the buildings before they're torn down. We headed down to see Wreck City before this art installation project ends tonight.

Though it was certainly interesting to see something like this on mass scale and I can see how this was a fun project for lots of young artists to do whatever they wanted, it did feel a bit like a missed conceptual opportunity. Perhaps there could have been some way to comment intelligently on development (ie 'progress'), on respect for the past, on recycling and upcycling, on 'home-fullness' and homelessness... or the history of the houses? Who used to live there? How do they feel about their former homes being torn down? Where are they now?

Maybe I missed some of these concepts as I held tightly to Finley's hand in some potentially hazardous spaces (for a curious 3-year-old) and juggled my camera. I'm not sure. (There was a house with a lineup and controlled entry that intrigued me but we couldn't wait in line.) The overall experience left me melancholic.

A commenter on the Wreck City site wrote something that I agree with:

"As a neighbour, I am glad to see the demolisher (aka Developer) interested in some of the neighbourhood’s culture by supporting WRECK CITY, however, I find it a bit funny that we’re going to have this influx of art and culture just to have the culture entirely wiped out by a colossal condominium spanning an entire city block in the heart of this heritage community." 

thanks for the thanks

Added on by Janine.
Sass Cocker and Diesel

Sass Cocker and Diesel

Our current issue features an extensive Stationery Guide with 50 profiled stationers and paper goods companies. Australian company Ask Alice is included and proprietor Sass Cocker emailed this fun image in thanks:

"Congratulations on another freakin' A-M-A-Z-I-N-G issue of UPPERCASE. I can't thank you enough for featuring Ask Alice... not once, but twice! It's a real honour for me. My cute Mum was teary eyed when I showed her and has since purchased several copies!"

Looks like her dog Diesel was a little too enthusiastic with the paper flag! (But we love to devour paper products, too. Like this lovely blank notebook with multiple found and upcycled paper stocks.)

Thanks, Sass!

arrow by Bryan McManus

Added on by Janine.

Bryan McManus wrote in to share his video portfolio:

"My passion as a filmmaker is uncovering the beauty of the ordinary. Your magazine brilliantly pursues that goal and resonates with me to that end. It seems there may be some overlap in our vision — to highlight the simple and ordinary objects of life — and to uncover their underlying beauty, meaning, and presence to enrich life."

Check out some more intriguing videos by Bryan.

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