"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.

inky hands at the Letterpress Academy

Saint Gertrude Letterpress Academy is a letterpress workshop in Melbourne, Australia that designs and prints letterpress ephemera on their 100-year-old platen affectionately named Gordon. Saint Gertrude is now offering hands-on letterpress classes. 


"Letterpress Academy is a new open access workshop offering participants the chance to learn more about the process of modern letterpress printing," says founder and Creative Director Amy Constable

The classes are open to professional designers and beginners alike. To get your hands dirty (and inky) with Saint Gertrude, click here

Swedish illustrator Lotta Kühlhorn


Lotta Kühlhorn is a Swedish illustrator who, at the age of ten, already knew that she wanted to be an illustrator when she grew up.

Lotta's illustrations and patterns can be found on cookware, books, fabrics, textiles–even wall tiles!

In January, Lotta released her book called Designing Patterns for Decoration, Fashion and Graphics. 

illustrating courtroom drama for 38 years

{Via NY Times

from Mississippi to New York: illustrator Kelly Lasserre

Illustrator Kelly Lasserre is featured in Work/Life 3, a directory of illustration published by UPPERCASE. Here is an excerpt from Kelly's profile. 

Kelly seeing herself in Work/Life 3

Kelly seeing herself in Work/Life 3

I am originally from Mississippi. The majority of my family still lives there and I have spent all my summers in the South being exposed to its amazing, strange and beautiful environment. The people, culture and physical landscape is endlessly inspiring. I definitely have a romantic feeling about it, maybe because I’ve been back and forth and am able to see it differently than if I had never left.

I’ve spent most of my life, including my school years, on the south shore of Massachusetts in a small Irish fishing town, very different from Mississippi, but dreamy in its own way. I feel fortunate that I grew up appreciating and learning from two opposite parts of the United States. It makes me feel very balanced in a way.

It became clear to me early in my teenage years that I had a real desire to make things and to communicate visually—it just made each day simpler. At some point I realized it was more than an angsty teenage need to express myself, so I really pushed my interest and had a lot of support from some great teachers. I went to art school in Baltimore, at the Maryland Institute College of Art, where I graduated with a BFA in illustration in 2008.

My style has been extremely pared down over the years into something I feel comfortable with, which is very simple, intentional, concise. I have reduced it down to the bare essential of what it is I am trying to visually discuss or record in my personal work. I used to be more self-conscious about my style because it didn't have this traditional approach to telling stories that fit into the illustration work I was being exposed to. But I eventually just let myself do what came naturally, which happens to be very direct and to the point.


Currently I am living and working in New York City. It’s not the easiest place to live, but it is very stimulating, frustrating, endlessly entertaining and inspiring. You have to be quite crafty to make it work. I just moved to Queens a few weeks ago so I could afford to live in this crazy city but also have enough space to work and breathe a bit. And I have my own studio, which is key.

Work/Life 3 is a directory of talent showcasing illustrators around the world. Artists are individually interviewed about their creative focus and artistic technique as well as their inspirations and aspirations. Beautiful images of sketchbook pages, studio shots, inspirational objects or personally illustrated anecdotes are shown on each participant's spread, letting the reader catch a glimpse of the artist's work/life. 

Click here to get your copy of Work/Life 3. 

Victoria Weiss of Butterpop Studio


Victoria Weiss is the founder of Butterpop Studio, an illustration, graphic design and web design shop based in New York. "I graduated from Parsons with a Communication Design degree, although my last 15 years has been mostly in animation, licensing, graphic and web design. I’ve lived in Hong Kong for some years as well and now freelancing from my house in Virginia Beach,” says Victoria. 

"I grew up in NYC and I spent many days in newsstands and bookshops just going through magazines in the mid nineties. Things have changed so much. Its hard to find ones with great content and treated with great care. UPPERCASE is beautiful."

Victoria’s on her way to SURTEX this year for the first time, and will be at booth 726.

"My portfolio is set up in a way for art directors to be able to use many icons to develop patterns for their collections. I’m aiming for wall art, stationery, gift, home decor and fabric companies this year. Also craft markets like scrapbooking.”

Be sure to check out Victoria’s website and stop by her booth at SURTEX! 

watercolour and florals by Nicole Tamarin

Nicole Tamarin works in watercolour and is drawn to classic themes and imagery, anything from florals to children’s to the everyday. She loves details and little extras, and tries to deliver a consistent level of polish to all of her work. She launched her business at SURTEX in 2012 and is excited to return for her third show this spring.

If you would like to know more about surface pattern design, you can download the UPPERCASE Surface Pattern Design Guide here

a dapper zebra and an odd flamingo

Paper & Cloth is a design studio in the UK with a strong focus on illustrational talent. "There has been the odd flamingo running crazy in the studio,” they write about their promo piece. "We are loving all the gorgeous painterly, inky trends we are seeing… Check out the dapper zebra. Inky and yet somewhat debonair don't you think?"

strawberries, bacon and jam by Holly Maguire


Holly Maguire is an illustrator based in Bristol, UK, with a big passion for surface pattern and textiles. Her work tends to include detailed yet playful and bright imagery made using gouache, and pen and ink. Holly really enjoys being able to apply her work to homeward, clothing and functional items. Her patterns are inspired by vintage design, packaging, fashion and popular culture. They often feature elements of nature and food, as well as everyday objects. 

Be sure to take a look at Molly’s Etsy page to purchase her cheerful patterns on prints and cards. 

meet Melanie Luther, our Creative-in-Residence

photos by Cara Howlett

photos by Cara Howlett

UPPERCASE is pleased to introduce a new Creative-in-Residence program for illustrators, artists, photographers, writers, crafters, makers and doers! The month-long residency allows the participant to use the UPPERCASE studio space and equipment in order to produce a specific professional or personal work. In return, the participant will share their talents by creating something particular for UPPERCASE, such as an illustration, photographs, an article or an object.

Illustration has always been a part of Melanie’s life. As a child growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Melanie seemed to be born with the skills of an illustrator. “Illustration was always there. My parents always bought me sketchbooks. As soon as I was done with one, they would have a new one for me right away. They were really happy that I was so into drawing,” says Melanie. 

Throughout high school, Melanie’s love for art continued, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue it right after graduating. “I was kind of done with school for a little bit, so I took a year off and worked retail…it was horrible. Partway through that year all I thought was, 'Okay, I’m going back to school for sure!’" Melanie had a friend that was enrolled in the animation program Sheridan College in Ontario, and after hearing about how exciting things were at Sheridan, Melanie decided to register into the illustration program and work towards a Bachelor of Applied Arts.

Over the years, Melanie developed her own unique style of illustration using ink, acrylic paint, and sometimes charcoal. Her narrative and emotive illustrations usually take the viewer on a journey. “I definitely enjoy telling stories, and that’s always been the case…even when I was little I’d always draw these really elaborate stories and they didn’t really make much sense, but they were very dramatic with lots of action and stuff, so I guess that’s kind of stuck with me.”

An owner of two little dogs named Douglas and Veronica, Melanie loves to illustrate her furry family members. “My dogs are always up to something. I have lots of ideas for little comics or little images of them getting into trouble.” You can see illustrations of Melanie’s pooches on her website

After Melanie finished her degree at Sheridan, she and her partner moved to Calgary in September 2013. “When I moved to Calgary, I knew I wanted to be a part of UPPERCASE,” says Melanie. “I just knew that I wanted to get involved more with the arts scene here in Calgary, and I figured working with Janine would be a good way to jump-start that and hopefully get my freelance going a little bit more.”

During Melanie’s time here at UPPERCASE, she’s working on an illustrated booklet about teen issues. Using colours to emphasize emotion and action, Melanie hopes that readers will relate to her drawings and be reminded of their teenage years through her use of colour. “I had a really nerdy, kind of sheltered, safe little teenage-hood, but I’m kind of going off of experiences from other people and things I witnessed first-hand. I’m trying to keep it easy to get into, but not too heavy,” says Melanie.


After her residency at UPPERCASE, Melanie hopes to illustrate full time. “That’s the dream, to do it for a living, and to just really enjoy it."

We’re looking forward to seeing Melanie’s work throughout the month and we’re even more excited to see her work in the summer issue of UPPERCASE.


If you're a Calgary creative interested in applying for a residency, please read through all the details posted here.

I've been spoiled by Kim Welling

I have to say that one of the nicest things about UPPERCASE readers is their generosity. Not only do you share your work with me in each and every issue, but your tweets and instagram photos and emails of compliments and suggestions are very much appreciated. I am also completely spoiled when it comes to getting amazing mail from all over the world.

Kim Welling, an illustrator from the Netherlands, surprised me with this beautiful plate for my birthday. (You can read our profile about Kim here.) The lady on the plate resembles me a bit—I'm not sure if that's on purpose!—but I'd definitely love to dress like her with that stylish cape and fashionable envelope purse. Thank you, Kim!

illustration by Kim Welling for Flow Magazine

illustration by Kim Welling for Flow Magazine

Kim just launched a new website where it is easier than ever to appreciate the great work in her portfolio.

Winter Camping by Kim Welling

Winter Camping by Kim Welling

Have a Happy Friday!

{Hand lettering by Neil Tasker}

Weeds Find a Way: Carolyn Fisher's new book


Join Carolyn Fisher in celebrating her new book called WEEDS Find A Way. A book launch party will be held at Monkeyshines Childrens Books at 2:00 pm on Saturday, April 26. Take a look at the WEEDS book trailer here.

Lesley Barnes' Post-it Notes!

Surface Pattern Design Guide and Work/Life 3 participant Lesley Barnes was asked by 3M, the makers of the famous Post-it note pad collection, to work on some designs for their Signature SERIES. Lesley's Lavish Elegance and Eclectic Chic collections are available for purchase here


Happy Easter!

Our friend Shelley Davies created this colourful Easter assemblage. 

Happy Easter, everyone!

illustrator Emily Balsley's collection of bunnies

Bunny illustrations by Work/Life 3 and Surface Pattern Design Guide participant Emily Balsley.