Win a spot in The Ultimate Portfolio Builder! (Comments Closed)

See the winner here.

Together with our friends at Make it in Design, we are offering a very special prize to ONE very lucky reader - one free place on the next The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course worth $895 (£579).

Places on this course are strictly limited and are highly sought after, but one person from this competition will be guaranteed a place! 

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder is an advanced seven-week online professional surface pattern design course, consisting of an intense five-week class followed by two weeks of design reviews. The classroom is accessible 24/7 so you can join from anywhere in the world, and fit the course into your busy life.

This powerful course will give you all the tools and advice you need to grow, refine and strengthen your professional design portfolio, make your designs more sellable and give you the fast-track to trade show success.

Brought to you in association with Printsource, one of the top surface and textile design shows in the world, this course will provide you with exclusive insight to help you secure the right buyers for your work, deal effectively with clients, get trade show ready and discover the secrets to landing your dream work. Plus one lucky person on the course will win a free booth at Printsource Aug 2016 and $1,000 to get you to New York! 

Course alumni have gone on to launch their own design studios, win national awards, be featured in design books, on leading blogs and more. Fancy a bit of this action too? Read on to find out how to enter.

The Ultimate Portfolio Builder includes:

  • Five weeks of exceptional in-depth teaching on subject matter (objects, characters, nature, geometrics, typography and abstract), colour and media, the power of recolouring, designing for occasions, genre and style, audience and market and so much more

  • A series of advanced design challenges to help you grow as a designer and build a strong, rounded portfolio

  • An array of LIVE briefs from real companies looking to sign the next big talent – is it you?

  • A series of video based technical masterclasses from guest designers on typography, characters, photography, mixed media collages and more, to hone your professional design skills

  • Invaluable individual work reviews from Rachael Taylor, Janine Burrows and Khristian A. Howell

  • Insight into the practicalities of managing a growing design studio

  • Trade show planning advice direct from Printsource New York

  • Opportunity to put questions to Rachael Taylor

  • 90 days’ free access to the top trend forecasting site WGSN


  • One lucky person on the course will win a free booth at Printsource New York, August 2016 and $1,000 towards the cost of travel to the show

  • An incredible four-part creative brief from Printsource to help you attract the clients you want and the kind of work you dream of

  • Bonus material on managing your finances, how to be your own career strategist and thinking outside the box

  • Access to a huge library of textures to give your work depth and distinction

  • Access to exclusively styled room set images ready-made for you to render your designs on

  • A selection of colour palettes intended to help you push your colour choices

  • And a whole lot more – this course really is jam-packed full of goodness!


The prize: ONE place on The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design – The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course starting September 21, 2015, delivered on-line.

How to enter: 

Check out the course website to find out more about it, then come back to this post and leave a comment with a link to your website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram so that we can contact you and write in no more than 50 words why this course would benefit you right now and how it could transform your design career.

Deadline: 5pm GMT on Friday September 18, 2015. Any comments left after this time will not be counted. 

Good luck!

Terms and Conditions: This competition is to win a place on The Ultimate Portfolio Builder course from Make it in Design starting September 21, 2015. One entry allowed per person. The winning place is not transferrable – either by date or to another individual and must not be sold on and no cash alternative will be offered in the event that the winner is unable to use the prize for any reason. By entering this competition you agree to your entry to be promoted on the Uppercase and Make it in Design website and their associated social networks. The winner will be jointly selected by Janine Vangool and Rachael Taylor and announced by Sunday September 20. The judges’ decision is final.

Thanks, Sabine!


Illustrator Sabine Wisman sent this to me on Twitter! I'm so lucky to have such amazing readers. Thanks, Sabine!

Calling Card: Tempest Studios

Artist Erika Schulz believes in keeping busy. "I have a few series of artworks ongoing at the moment. I don't believe in tackling one subject at a time, so I switch between spaceships and robots, medieval gargoyles, birds, nature, and fantasy/macabre illustration. I try to challenge myself to grow as an artist."

"My inspirations are as diverse as my subjects, although if you knew me well, nothing I do would seem such a stretch. I grew up in a house surrounded by Asian artwork, collected by both my mother and grandmother. Summers were spent near the ocean or a mountain lake. My father introduced me to The Lord of the Rings, and Dune at an early age, which lead me to Star Trek. Fantasy novels were always my prefered escape, and throughout my life I have been fascinated by ancient history. What a strange melting pot, but perhaps not that uncommon. Nature, fantasy, fiction, and history, what a wonderful world for creativity and imagination."

She has a busy month ahead: Her Alberta Aviary series will be on display from November 15 to December 4 at the Bluerock Gallery in Black Diamond, Alberta. (Bluerock Gallery is also a fine stockist of UPPERCASE magazine.)

Then, she'll be showcasing her work at Red Deer's "All Things Pretty Market" on November 22 and 23rd. 

Prints, cards and zines are available on her Etsy shop.

Thank you to Erika Schulz for supporting the content in UPPERCASE issue 23 by purchasing a Calling Card ad. If you'd like to have your Calling Card appear on the blog, sidebar, social media and in print, please visit our advertising for the details.

Naftali Beder: I am Obsidian

By illustrator Naftali Beder.

New Craft Coalition: Rabbet

My friends Louisa and James Jensen will be at NCC this Friday and Saturday. Check out this great "about" page to get to know them and their company, Rabbet. They make "happy art for happy homes" with illustrated cards and art poster prints. Their art is cute and quirky, but always genuine—just like James and Louisa!


Made You Look

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.

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. 

Cat People


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

Greetings from Canada

"A short teaser for Greetings From Canada, a limited edition run of fine letterpress postcards featuring the work of 10 Canadian artists, illustrators and designers. The first project of its kind in the country, it aims to elevate the art of letterpress printing while showcasing a selection of some of the best creative talent Canada has to offer." 

Back in the day, I had my own set of postcards called "Greetings from Canada." I used to sell them when UPPERCASE was a public gallery.

"It is almost impossible for me to create without colour."

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."

Ripe bananas and other outtakes from issue 22

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!

Hello Pattern by Judy Kaufmann

Judy Kaufmann has just released this fresh collection of patterns. "This collection has a wide selection of geometric, organic, typographic forms which can be applied from paper to fabric, from wood to walls." Her fantastical representations of her patterns in use is a terrific way of promoting this new work.

Judy is another talented designer who was featured in the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide in the spring issue. 

Colours and Emotions with Maria Carluccio

In response to my weekly newsletter that I sent on Tuesday, Maria Carluccio shares this composition with us, made of chopped up old watercolour paintings. "It was so liberating!" she exclaims.

"Out with the old, in with the new—reusing old art to make new art."

"I highly recommend it as a fun way to explore colour connection," advises Maria. "After I pieced these together I started thinking about how colours remind me of emotions and feelings so I wrote in pencil the first thing that came to me when I thought of that swatch."

Maria is one of the 100 artists profiled in the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide included in the spring issue (#21). The Guide is also available as a free download when you sign up for my newsletter—I'll send inspiring content directly to your inbox once a week!

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i wish...

Aunyarat Watanabe was featured in the newsletter that I sent yesterday. She's quite happy about being published in the summer issue, too! If I could personally deliver a magazine to her and each of my readers, I would.

If you'd like to receive my weekly e-newsletter, "An UPPERCASE Letter", please join here.