Collector's Edition

Irma Boom photographed by Ivan Jones

Irma Boom photographed by Ivan Jones

As a book-lover and designer/publisher of books, I'm always interested when a new compilation of design work comes out. It is a chance to discover interesting formats, designs and "why didn't I think of that!" ideas all in one place. I'm immersed in the design of The Typewriter book which, at 320 pages currently, is quite the undertaking. I printed out a mini mockup to work on the page flow, which reminded me of Irma Book's tiny book.

Sample spread from Collector’s Edition, Innovative Packaging and Graphics by Stuart Tolley

Sample spread from Collector’s Edition, Innovative Packaging and Graphics by Stuart Tolley

“The future for book designers is becoming more and more interesting. I think we are in the Renaissance period of making books. I have to think about why something should be a book and not a website. This challenge makes me want to continue designing books.” –Irma Boom


Art Director Stuart Tolley wholeheartedly agrees with the importance of creating physical design objects. Through publisher Thames & Hudson, he has produced Collector's Edition: Innovative Packaging and Graphics: "a visual culture book showcasing the new wave of beautifully produced, limited edition, large format, graphic design and packaging for music, book, magazines."

The book is organized into sections categorized by boxed sets, multiples, handmade and 'extras' such as collectible memorabilia and objects.

If you're in London, the book launches with an exhibition running from August 19 to 31. Find out more here. I look forward to adding Collector's Edition to my library.

International Typewriter Day: book cover reveal!

On this special day, I am happy to finally reveal the cover of The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine. It's International Typewriter Day, commemorating this day in 1868 that Christopher Latham Sholes was granted a patent for his invention. 

When I embarked on this project two years ago, I had no idea that the book would take so long to make. Epic floods, moving offices, personnel changes, working on the magazine and so on... there have been many obstacles. During that time, typewriters have only gotten older and more interesting! (And my collection of artifacts and vintage ads has grown considerably.)

The book will be heading to print in late summer. Please preorder yours in the shop. Thanks!

chicks at a typewriter

With cute chicks, pretty flowers and a typewriter, this Easter postcard from 1910 looks cute—but look a little closer and the whole scenario becomes a bit more sinister!

Typewriter Notes

Typewriter Notes is a box set of 20 different cards capturing the timeless appeal of the typewriter. Published by Chronicle Books, I curated and designed the set. It features photographs by UPPERCASE readers. The cover photo is by Jane Bernstein.

In addition to a few of my own photos, there are photographs by Brianne Walk, Andrea Corrona Jenkins, Cari Wayman, Celina Wyss, Cori Kindred, Denise Regan, Jane Bernstein, Joanna Brown, Sarah Book, Shelley Davies, Svenja Schulte-Dahmen, Tracey Ayton and Vanessa Pham.

Thank you to Caitlin and Kristen at Chronicle Books for being so lovely to work with!

Sets can be purchased in our online shop along with Shoegazing Notecards, a previous collaboration with Chronicle. Thanks!

another year


make it an old-fashioned typewriter Christmas















A few more from my collection of old typewriter ads! To find out more about The Typewriter book that I'm working on, click here. If you'd like to support the project through a book pre-order, you may do so in the shop. Thanks!

The Typewriter: update


As you might have read on the project page, the release of The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine was delayed by some trying and time-consuming events this year — moving the studio and the big Calgary flood being some major unforeseeable circumstances that seriously infringed on my time. I am happy to say that the book is on track for release in early 2014. I will be posting regular updates in the new year here on the blog and on the project page.

In the past year, my collection of interesting and visually inspiring typewriter-related advertisements, ephemera and memorabilia has grown. (Thank you to some intrepid interns who helped scan over 500 items!) I also have met with some typewriter experts such as collector Martin Howard who will be providing some images for the book, Berkeley Typewriter, the proprietor of Canada's oldest business machines and some other fine collectors. It is nice to know that appreciation for the typewriter remains strong!


button tree decorations


It is that time of year when I bring out my typewriter Christmas tree! Finley was spending the afternoon at the office, so I let him do the honours of unfolding the tree.


I didn't have any decorations for it—normally its tinsel branches and strange typewriter base are enough for me—but Finley thought it needed something more...


Lucky for us, I have no shortage of creative odds and ends... like a jarful of vintage buttons. These are the leftovers from assembling the goodies that come with the Dottie Angel book we published a few years ago (by the way, there are just a few copies left in the shop). Since all these buttons have shanks, we couldn't include them in the flat goodie envelopes that come with each book.


Also on hand? Some handy waxed thread from the Maine Thread Company—we profiled them in issue #16 earlier this year.


Finley and I proceeded to string multiple buttons onto lengths of the thread and I tied them into a loop.


I also made a string garland of buttons by knotting the shank of the buttons at even intervals on a 6-foot length of string. The waxed thread worked really well since nothing slips out of position.


This was a fun! And super easy. The best kind of spur-of-the-moment creative activity.

the Martin Howard collection of antique typewriters

Martin Howard and his collection of early typewriters.

Martin Howard and his collection of early typewriters.

Martin's display of typewriter tins above the workstation where he cleans and repairs his machines. 

Martin's display of typewriter tins above the workstation where he cleans and repairs his machines. 

In addition to machines, Martin has an extensive collection of artifacts, like this advertisement for the Crandall Typewriter. 

In addition to machines, Martin has an extensive collection of artifacts, like this advertisement for the Crandall Typewriter. 

A gorgeous Crandall from 1886.

A gorgeous Crandall from 1886.

During my trip to Toronto, I was fortunate to visit Martin Howard and his beautiful collection of early typewriters. His website offers clear and detailed photographs of his collection and is certainly the best site and photographs that I have come across. I am pleased that Martin will be sharing some of his images in The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine.

I had not previously had the opportunity to see these early typewriters up close, let alone to see how they work.  Martin graciously demonstrates two models, a Standard Folding and a Mignon 2, in the videos below.

A note on the photographs The photos above are ones that I took during our visit. Martin and I both kindly request that respect be given to our images and ask that proper credit is given if you use any of these images on your blog or post them to Pinterest or elsewhere. Personally, I have come across many unauthorized uses of my typewriter photographs for blog headers and commercial purposes. We invest a lot of effort into preparing the machines, lighting, equipment, etc and photographs of the machines are copyrighted to the photographers. Just because it is a picture of something old, the photographs themselves are not "public domain". thank you.

flea fun: typewriters & tea cups

Paige's lucky table! 

Paige's lucky table! 

I purchased this toy machine. It will polish up nicely for inclusion in The Typewriter book. 

I purchased this toy machine. It will polish up nicely for inclusion in The Typewriter book. 

I'm having a terrific weekend for typewriter sightings! My friend Paige and I combed the aisles of the St Laurence flea market here in Toronto this morning. I always enjoy going to flea markets with Paige. We both love old stuff, but she's also a great companion because we're each on the lookout for different things, so we're not competing for the ultimate find!

Visit my Instagram feed to see more vintage finds (all of which stayed behind at the tables).

I'm willing to suffer new shoe discomforts for a glimpse downward at my new striped sandals.

I'm willing to suffer new shoe discomforts for a glimpse downward at my new striped sandals.


The Typewriter: goal reached!


You did it! Thanks to your generosity, the funding goal of $25,000 for The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine has been met. The amount will be used towards production and print costs for this forthcoming book.

Now it is my turn to get the book finished!

The production schedule has been delayed—having to find a new studio really put a wrench into my plans and out of necessity I had to put the project aside for a few months. But rest assured that this book will be available just as soon as it can be. I'm very excited to start sharing images from the book with you.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support of my publishing endeavours. I am very grateful and motivated by your enthusiasm.

(If you'd like to preorder the book, you can do so right here at "The Standard" level. I will leave the perks up for a few more days before taking them off the site.)

type tuesday: Jonathan Boyd


Upon discovering Jonathan Boyd's work through Flow Gallery's current exhibiition, I'm at a loss for words. wow.

jonathan boyd 2010_2011_5.jpg

"Jonathan’s work deals with the strange and complex relationships that exist between object, written language and the body. Interested in how language can shape thoughts about an object and its context, his works often being inspired by the text’s narrative."

I believe that some of the letterforms are from typewriters and apparently he has designed a typewriter to type out his own handwriting.

jonathan boyd 2010_2011_10.jpg
jonathan boyd 2010_2011_16.jpg
jonathan boyd 2010_2011_8.jpg
jonathan boyd 2010_2011_13.jpg

guy friday: typewriter show and tell with Smokeproof Press

Brad's collection of typewriters are housed in their cases on a shelving system he devised.

Brad's collection of typewriters are housed in their cases on a shelving system he devised.

During my last few hours in Boulder, I was happily surprised with an invitation to visit Brad O'Sullivan's letterpress studio. (We featured Smokeproof Press back in issue #8's Letterpress Sampler. Copies are still available for sale in our shop.)

Thank you to Allison of Bird Dog Press for making this happen and for my Crafting Content partner-in-crime Heide Murray of All Good Wishes who also drove me to the airport after our visit. (Check out Heide's amazing felt creatures.)

Brad shows us one of his many machines. 

Brad shows us one of his many machines. 

A gorgeous "Floating Shift" key.

A gorgeous "Floating Shift" key.

Allison and Heide admire the details.

Allison and Heide admire the details.

An Italian Olivetti art deco-era in mint condition.

An Italian Olivetti art deco-era in mint condition.

An Hermes Rocket in hot orange.

An Hermes Rocket in hot orange.

A later model Hermes Rocket is workhorse grey.

A later model Hermes Rocket is workhorse grey.

For me, the ephemera of typewriters are part of the appeal.

For me, the ephemera of typewriters are part of the appeal.

An Odell Typewriter wooden box.

An Odell Typewriter wooden box.

Thanks, Brad, for climbing up and retrieving one amazing machine after another.

Thanks, Brad, for climbing up and retrieving one amazing machine after another.

A cursive model.

A cursive model.

Brad saves ink samples in old film cannisters, with typewritten labels of course.

Brad saves ink samples in old film cannisters, with typewritten labels of course.

In addition to the typewriter collection, there were plenty of things to keep an eye happy at Smokeproof Press.

Note the collection of UPPERCASE magazines on the upper shelves!

Note the collection of UPPERCASE magazines on the upper shelves!


Thanks again, Brad, Allison and Heide for your hospitality.

typewriter update


The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine is just about at our goal! We're just $1,690 away.... please pledge to one of the various levels of support and get the book plus a project perk. Or simply preorder the book for $45 (we would need to sell 38 preordered copies, for example.) It would be great to see this reach 100% this week!

There's an interesting article on the Dell website about our project and the challenges of crowdfunding outside of the popular Kickstarter platform.

girl friday: toutes les filles veulent êtres secrétaire


A French romantic comedy set in the high-stakes world of typewriting competitions? Mais oui! C'est Populaire!

Spring, 1958. 21-year-old Rose Pamphyle lives with her grouchy widower father who runs the village store. Engaged to the son of the local mechanic, she seems destined for the quiet, drudgery-filled life of a housewife. But that's not the life Rose longs for. When she travels to Lisieux in Normandy, where charismatic insurance agency boss Louis Echard is advertising for a secretary, the ensuing interview is a disaster. But Rose reveals a special gift—she can type at extraordinary speed. Unwittingly, the young woman awakens the dormant sports fan in Louis. If she wants the job she'll have to compete in a speed typing competition. Whatever sacrifices Rose must make to reach the top, Louis declares himself her trainer. He'll turn her into the fastest girl not only in the country, but in the world! But a love of sport doesn't always mix well with love itself ... IMDB


Ridiculous concept? oui.
Sexist? oui.
Amazing locations, costumes and period detail? oui.
Do I want to test my rusty grade school French immersion skills? oui.
Do I want to see it? mais, oui!

girl friday: oh orla

OrlaKiely_typingpool_60sStyleoffice desks_1.jpg
OrlaKiely_typingpool_60sStyleoffice desks_6.jpg

I'm late for this meeting! Last month, Orla Kiely launched a collection by staging a "Typing Pool" scene in an art gallery. See more fab photos on Kristatomic and view a video presentation here.


typewriter fun with florals

red love you.jpg
typewriter bunnies.jpg
floral pink.jpg

If you follow me on Instagram, you'd have seen a flurry of floral typewriter pictures this afternoon. I was experimenting with photos (digital camera, Polaroid, Instagram) for some the Typewriter Notecard collaboration with Chronicle Books.


TYPEWRITER NOTECARDS is a boxed set of 20 notecards and envelopes featuring photographs of vintage typewriters, taken by UPPERCASE readers. It will combine our love of this outdated-but-not-forgotten icon into beautiful notecards suitable for a variety of occasions.

There's still time to get your photographic submissions in! Full details are right here.

Girl Friday: Jessica Brilli


I received a submission this week to share with you. I had already bookmarked Jessica's paintings before but they definitely merit posting on the blog!

Jessica Brilli explores the beauty in artifacts that have withstood a radical transition of function—from practical use to design inspiration and decor. These artifacts have an immediate and lasting appeal, now captured in Brilli’s paintings. 

Although many of the objects—vintage typewriters, cameras, and radios—are not widely used anymore, they still have a place in our lives, for admiring and remembering more than using. Brilli investigates our cultural fascination with near-obsolete commodities. Will today’s technological devices have a similar effect in the future, or will their impression be fleeting because of their transient nature?

Jessica is a graphic designer/painter living in Quincy, MA. She works at The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. "I design by day, and paint by night," she writes.

my wall of typewriters


Getting my babies all in rows for a photoshoot this afternoon!


The Typewriter: a Graphic History of the Beloved Machine is at 75% of its funding goal. Your support would be very much appreciated! If you love typewriters, graphic design, beautiful lettering and vintage fashion, then this book will be for you!

love or no love?

love love love poster.jpeg

LOVE LOVE LOVE by UPPERCASE The poster I designed in 2009 and sold via my website. It was designed by typing the word love with various pressures on my Royal typewriter and then scanning and enlarging the results. See the original blog post here.

love shirt.jpeg

LOVE LOVE LOVE by The Gap This week, Eleanor came to work wearing this shirt. This isn't a new shirt, she recalls purchasing it maybe three years ago which would place both designs to the same time period (and right when my posters were making the blog rounds). This design from The Gap uses various weights of the font Trixie. 

What do you think? Creative coincidence or lazy knockoff? Love or no love for The Gap?

However this tshirt came to be, it is old news now. And that's the thing... it is so difficult to police your designs once they are out on the web and in the world. If Eleanor hadn't worn the shirt to work, I would have never seen this design so very similar to my own. In the course of design career, my work has been copied and blatantly ripped off a few times. Unfortunately, there has been a case quite recently where I could very obviously trace the path from my work directly to some other company's product. In fact, I could overlay their design onto my original and trace the similarities in fonts, angles and placement of elements—let alone that the overall impression of the design was that it looked like it was by UPPERCASE. I sent polite but firm letters to the offenders, consulted with a lawyer and was very disappointed with my lack of choices to see the wrongs made right. Ultimately, I decided that I could not commit the time, emotional energy or funds to pursue it and I had to just "let it go". But the disappointment lingers and I wonder how the infringement will affect my income. It is very hard to let it go.


Modern Dog is a Seattle-based design firm who is standing up to the big guys in another case of infringement on a tshirt. They have chosen to fight, at considerable expense and effort. In order to offset the costs, they have set up a website which accepts donations to help in their legal bills. I made a small donation to show my support. 

Modern Dog writes: "Compelled to make things right, we entered into a lawsuit that is now a year in the making. If anyone had asked me a year ago if I thought this case would drag out for months, I would have said no. I naively believed that this case would be settled in a few weeks.

Boy, was I wrong.

We find ourselves in a battle with some of the biggest corporations in the world, and we have no idea how long and hard they intend to fight as they have seemingly unlimited resources. Our jury trial date is not until September 2013, in that time the process could easily bankrupt us. We need money to see this case go to trial; money for depositions, forensic accounting, expert witness testimonies, and other expenses related to the case.

In June of 2012, I made the decision to sell our Greenwood house, partly to reduce our overhead expenses, and partly to fund the lawsuit. I realize now that we are in it for the long haul. I cried the day I handed the new owners the keys, but I also felt a sense of relief because I knew that I personally would be able to help my company fight."

Please help the underdogs.

And do your part when it comes to respecting intellectual property. Know the difference between inspiration and infringement. Don't put images on Pinterest if you don't know who created them. Don't repin or post without attribution. Give credit where credit it due.