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.

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.